The Pittsburgh Project's purpose to develop servant leaders and uphold the dignity of vulnerable homeowners has much in common with Waynesburg University's mission of educating students through faith, learning and serving.
For several years, Waynesburg University has worked to build a partnership with The Pittsburgh Project, a nonprofit community development organization committed to meeting the needs of the Pittsburgh community. Each semester, Waynesburg students are given the opportunity to serve extensively with The Project in programs such as tutoring, work camps and community garden.
“The Pittsburgh Project is striving to provide for its community through education and home improvements for the elderly, widows and those with disabilities who fall 150 percent below the poverty level,” said Sarah Brandstetter, coordinator of Waynesburg University's Bonner Scholar Program.
This year, five Waynesburg students and a recent alumnus are dedicating their summers to the cause, serving as worksite liaisons from the beginning of June to mid-August.
Those working with The Project include: Kimber Blair, a junior interactive design major from New Castle, Pa; Darartu Boyer, a senior early childhood education major from Columbia, Pa; Ethan Hacker, a junior biblical ministry studies (children and youth) major from Butler, Pa; Blake McCarty, a sophomore business management major from Frisco, Tx; Esteban Saldi a 2012 human services alumnus from La Paz, Bolivia and Steven Snow, a sophomore criminal justice administration major from Butler, Pa.
“I decided to serve at the Pittsburgh Project this summer so that I could minister to people in my home city,” Hacker said. “I like working hands on and doing labor. I am excited to work with the homeowners and other groups to make the city a little bit better every day.”
Dave Calvario, Director of the Center for Service Leadership, and Brandstetter have worked alongside students within The Project throughout the years and regularly encourage students to take the next step when it comes to serving others.
“Sarah Brandstetter and Dave Calvario have always been supportive and influential in my life, and they are the ones who helped me decide to work with The Project my first summer,” Blair said.
Proud to be part of an organization that has genuine interest in the people of Pittsburgh, Blair reflected on how God has opened her eyes to the need in the area.
“There's a need to care for vulnerable, sometimes neglected, homeowners who are unable to continue the upkeep on their own homes,” she said. “There is a need for positive influences in the lives of the youth. There is a need for reconciliation between gangs and other groups.”
With all of the need in the Pittsburgh area, and around the world, there is an even bigger need for individuals like these Waynesburg students and alumnus who have given their summers in order to serve God and make a difference for those around them.