Participant Story: Rebecca Dyck

Living in a city is not always what it seems. Before experiencing a new place, we can hardly predict what it will be like. Often times, we develop expectations based upon what we hear from others.

Rebecca Dyck traveled to Pittsburgh after hearing about the PULSE program through a family friend. Not only is she new to Pittsburgh, PA, but also despite her dual Canadian-American citizenship, this is the first time she has resided in the United States.

“Something that surprised me about the city of Pittsburgh is how much it feels like a small town,” Rebecca said. “People say hello to you on the street, walk in the middle of the road, and stop their cars in the middle of the street to talk with their neighbors. Those things remind me of the small town I’m from, which I wasn’t expecting.”

In fact, most newcomers do not expect the small town feel that resides within each of the city’s 90 neighborhoods. Each neighborhood comes with its own personality and sense of community. PULSE began in East Liberty nearly two decades ago but within the last few years has branched into other neighborhoods. In 2011, PULSE added a house in Garfield. This year PULSE added a house in Highland Park, and Rebecca is one of four participants to be the first residents of the house.

As any homeowner understands, “Being in the new house has its ups and downs – we started with a few issues and we’ve had to improvise,” said Rebecca. “But, since no PULSEr has lived here before, we’ve been able to really make the house feel like our own.”

Home improvement is a large part of Rebecca’s PULSE experience beyond the intentional community living piece. In her work placement, she serves as the Community Programs Fellow at the Design Center. One of her major responsibilities is facilitating the Design Consults program which matches homeowners doing home renovations or repairs with an affordable professional designer. Rebecca shares that her experience with the Design Center has been very positive thus far.

She notes that she has felt tremendous support from the PULSE community as well. Current participants, staff, alumni, coworkers, her church community at Pittsburgh Mennonite Church all contribute to this positive experience.

“PULSE challenges you to try new things. PULSE wants you to be successful, will help you along the way, and support you even if things don’t turn out.”

Notably, the friendliness and support from PULSE extends to the citizens of the city as well.

“Whenever I’ve asked someone for directions at a bus stop, they have been very friendly and helpful,” shared Rebecca. “I love how the people who live here are so passionate about Pittsburgh. They really love this city, and that feeling is infectious.”

Story by Sarah (Spicuzza) Davelaar, alumna of PULSE 2011-2012.

Read more stories about the Participant experience with PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.