I’ve taken a little bit longer in getting this next blog post out. Part of that is because I’m getting a lot busier with work. But the other part has been that every time I’ve thought of writing about North Hills Community Outreach, I felt a little bit overwhelmed. I visited their main North Hills location in Alison Park last month to learn about what they do; I’ve read their literature and brochures; I’ve scoured their website – and then every time I sat down to write about their work, I wondered where on earth to start.
They have a mission of “addressing the needs of people in crisis, hardship, and poverty” for those who live in the northern portions of Allegheny County. And as they’ve grown from a tiny group founded by clergy in the North Hills in response to some serious flooding that occurred in 1986, they’ve been able to address more and more needs through a growing variety of programs.
I’m going to end up sharing a lot of facts and statistics in this post, mostly because they are impressive and North Hills Community Outreach has done such a good job tracking what they do. In fact, if I were just telling you what most impressed me when I was at their offices, it would be their commitment to wise stewardship and making use of every single opportunity to give. Their is no waste in this organization. Bring them your leftover , blue Giant Eagle grocery bags. They can put them to use. Donating food? They will even clip the Box tops and make sure they are given to a school in need. Printing on just one side of that internal document? They don’t through it away. They put it back in the copier and use the other side. Every dime and every donation are treated with the utmost respect. It all matters.
The following numbers are from their most recent annual report.
–3,804 families and 33,117 people were assisted in the fiscal year 2015-2016
–1,743 volunteers logged 39,000 hour of assistance. (This is the equivalent of 19 full-time staff).
–185 senior citizens received 5,817 rides from the Free Rides for Seniors ride share program that operates two vehicles along the Route 28 corridor.
-Seasonal sharing projects were able to done 1,060 holiday gifts, 241 winter warms utility credits, 2,000 winter coats, 130 spring baskets, & 1,240 backpacks filled with school supplies.
–29 working people with low income were able to purchase cars through the Community Auto Program.
–4,450 lbs of organic produce were distributed through the NHCO Community Gardens.
The list could, honestly, go on and on. I imagine there must be some limit to the number of services offered through North Hills community Outreach, but it really seems like they have worked very hard to meet every need and cover every gap in some way, shape, or form. And for whetever they don’t do themselves, they’ve developed partnerships with a number of other Allegheny County organizations they can direct people towards.
How You Can Help
I know it sounds like they have all their bases covered, but they can only do this much because generous people and volunteers have been so willing to help. Perhaps you could do that, too? Some specific volunteer needs that were emphasized to me during my visit include weekday drivers to help get local seniors to appointments, people skilled with data entry (given what a great job they do tracking everything, this should be a surprise), and willing souls able to participate outside of the popular Thanksgiving through Christmas volunteer window.
Donations are gladly accepted. They need to keep three large food pantries stocked (I’m told that canned potatoes, tomatoes, and peaches are especially popular); vehicle donations for Community Auto can do a lot of good; and appropriate items for the seasonal sharing projects are especially helpful.
Please call ahead if you have a specific or unique donation to share (412-487-6316). They love to find a home for everything but they don’t have a lot of extra storage space to hold on to items that are a little outside of the norm.
I’ve honestly only scratched the surface here in sharing with you all that North Hills community Outreach does for North Hills residents. It’s clear their founding pillars of faith, compassion, empowerment, and stewardship really do fuel the work they accomplish each day. And if you don’t happen to live in the area that they service, take heart. Just call the front desk and somebody will be able to direct you to an organization that can help you in your home area. They really do have everything covered.