Make the most of your summer by donating your time and efforts to a local nonprofit. These generous organizations thrive on the support of selfless volunteers, and your helping hand can make a difference in someone’s life. We’ve compiled this guide to 15 Pittsburgh area nonprofits and their unique projects that need your involvement. We know you’ll be inspired to get out there and make a positive impact on our community!
By Rachel Jones
THE MISSION: To enrich the community through musical discovery, expression, and education
THE PROJECT: WYEP’s Street Team
WHAT IT DOES: An extension of WYEP, the Street Team is a group of independent and knowledgeable music lovers who represent the station at various community events and concerts in the summer and fall. Team members work to update the community with the latest news from WYEP and connect people with interesting and relevant happenings in Pittsburgh.
WHO IT HELPS: Anyone who loves listening to music, supporting local arts groups, and being involved with their community will benefit from the team’s information. Since WYEP sponsors events that benefit other nonprofits, supporting WYEP will in turn support these groups throughout the Pittsburgh area.
HOW TO HELP: To sign up for the team, visit wyep.org.
CONTACT: 91.3 WYEP, 67 Bedford Square, South Side. 412.381.9900.
THE MISSION: To provide birthday cheer to every child, regardless of personal or financial status
THE PROJECT: Year-round volunteer opportunities
WHAT IT DOES: To help celebrate every child and spread birthday cheer all year, volunteers are needed to staff parties, bake cupcakes, sponsor treat bags, and assist with projects at the office.
WHO IT HELPS: Children experiencing homelessness and families in need receive the celebrations they deserve through Beverly’s Birthdays.
HOW TO HELP: To sign up for a volunteer project, visit beverlysbirthdays.org.
CONTACT: Beverly’s Birthdays, 31 Robbins Station Road, North Huntingdon. 412.720.9737.
THE MISSION: To improve the quality of life for children, young people, and their families by providing a specialized continuum of services that enables them to reach their potential
THE PROJECT: Make an Amazing Difference Campaign
WHAT IT DOES: The $12 million campaign works to provide care coordination services, create an extensive telepresence, expand behavioral health services, enhance transition services, and explore promising research possibilities.
WHO IT HELPS: More than 6,400 children with major health challenges come to The Children’s Institute from across the region and around the world.
HOW TO HELP: With $8 million raised since the campaign’s launch in November 2014, volunteers are needed to help raise the final $4 million needed to achieve its goal. To help plan a fundraising event, contact Kathy at 412.420.2203.
CONTACT: The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, 1405 Shady Ave., Squirrel Hill. 412.420.2400.
THE MISSION: To promote the economic independence of women by providing professional attire, a network of support, and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and life
THE PROJECT: Learn and Earn Employment Initiative
WHAT IT DOES: By collaborating with the government, corporate companies, and nonprofits, the Learn and Earn Employment Initiative provides work experience across Allegheny County in June. Dress for Success Pittsburgh specifically provides the proper attire and confidence to help the participants succeed.
WHO IT HELPS: More than 2,000 people, ages 14-21, will gain the experience and skills to start creating their personal brand at an early age.
HOW TO HELP: Volunteers are needed to donate clothing, sort through hundreds of clothing donations, and suit about 130 youth a day for the entire month. To sign up, contact Tanya Mallory at email@example.com.
CONTACT: Dress for Success Pittsburgh, 332 Fifth Ave., #510, Downtown. 412.201.4204.
THE MISSION: To lead the fight to stop seizures, find a cure, and overcome the challenges created by epilepsy
THE PROJECT: 27th Annual Pittsburgh Family Fun Run/Walk for Epilepsy on July 25
WHAT IT DOES: Held at PNC Park, the event helps raise awareness of epilepsy and funds for the programs and supportive services that the nonprofit provides.
WHO IT HELPS: One in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime. The event, which is expecting more than 2,000 participants, will raise funds to support the children, adults, and families affected by epilepsy/seizure disorders.
HOW TO HELP: Volunteers can assist with registration, prize distribution, cheering on runners/walkers, and the tailgate party on the Roberto Clemente Bridge. To sign up, contact Colleen Fulkerson at 412.322.5880.
CONTACT: Epilepsy Foundation Western/Central Pennsylvania, 1501 Reedsdale St., Suite 3002, North Shore. 412.322.5880.
THE MISSION: To provide a special “home away from home” for patients and their families who are seeking medical treatment in Pittsburgh
THE PROJECT: House Volunteers
WHAT IT DOES: Volunteers will check in guests, provide fresh linens, and serve as a friendly face for guests who are experiencing stressful situations. Groups are also welcome to come to the houses and cook dinners, play games, and complete landscaping projects to keep the houses comfortable and attractive.
WHO IT HELPS: More than 15,000 patients and their families stay at Family House each year, traveling from all 50 states. The nonprofit reduces their
emotional and financial stress by offering convenient, affordable housing in a home-like environment.
HOW TO HELP: To sign up, contact Julia Homa at 412.647.4917 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONTACT: Family House, 5001 Baum Blvd., Suite 545, Shadyside. 412.647.5811.
THE MISSION: To support people through all of life’s changes and challenges by providing comprehensive psychological, employment, and social services for children and adults of all ages throughout the Greater Pittsburgh region
THE PROJECT: AgeWell Rides
WHAT IT DOES: As a part of AgeWell Pittsburgh — a collaboration of JF&CS, the Jewish Association on Aging, and the Jewish Community Center — AgeWell Rides is administered by JF&CS and matches local volunteers with seniors who do not or cannot drive. These drivers take the participants to medical appointments, grocery stores, or community social events.
WHO IT HELPS: Senior citizens who want to stay as active and independent as possible can benefit from AgeWell Rides.
HOW TO HELP: Volunteer drivers receive training, flexible schedules, secondary insurance, and more, while making a difference in a senior’s life. To sign up, contact Ellen Leger at 412.422.0400 or email@example.com. And, keep an eye out for AgeWell Visits this summer. The program promotes socialization and interaction by connecting volunteers with older adults for home visits.
CONTACT: Jewish Family & Children’s Services, 5743 Bartlett St., Squirrel Hill. 412.422.7200.
THE MISSION: To build a thriving, vibrant, and engaged Jewish community by raising and allocating funds, providing programming, and helping other organizations more effectively serve Jews and non-Jews in Pittsburgh and around the world
THE PROJECT: The Jewish Federation Volunteer Center
WHAT IT DOES: The center matches volunteers to needs all year, reflecting the Jewish tradition to repair the world and, in doing so, build relationships and help people realize the satisfaction of sharing.
WHO IT HELPS: A wide range of people — including children, senior citizens, those with physical disabilities, those with housing needs, and teens who need mentors — benefit from the Jewish Federation Volunteer Center. You do not need to be Jewish to volunteer for or benefit from the center.
HOW TO HELP: To sign up, call 412.992.5229 or visit jfedvolunteer.org. Mark your calendars for two annual “mega events”: Mitzvah Day, December 25, and Good Deeds Day, April 10. Each event attracts hundreds of volunteers at sites across the Pittsburgh region.
CONTACT: Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, 234 McKee Place, Oakland. 412.681.8000.
THE MISSION: To provide life-changing programs, food, shelter, and the hope of Christ to Pittsburgh’s poor and homeless
THE PROJECT: The Day of Hope Picnic on July 23
WHAT IT DOES: The picnic provides a free lunch, service projects, Christian music, stories about how God is changing lives, and community resources to all attendees.
WHO IT HELPS: Men, women, and children in the North Side community will benefit from this event, while the area’s churches and organizations will be supported by the service projects.
HOW TO HELP: Volunteers provide the manpower to carry out this event and complete the service projects. To sign up, contact Bri Feindt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONTACT: Light of Life Rescue Mission, 10 E. North Ave., North Side. 412.258.6100.
THE MISSION: To remain dedicated to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease for hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals, millions of patients and their families, and tens of millions of Americans at risk
THE PROJECT: Pittsburgh Kidney Walk on November 1
WHAT IT DOES: Held at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, the walk raises awareness and funds lifesaving programs that educate and support kidney patients, their families, and those at risk.
WHO IT HELPS: More than 26 million Americans have kidney disease and almost 73 million are at risk. For every dollar raised for the National Kidney Foundation, more than 80 cents goes directly to services, such as free community screenings and education.
HOW TO HELP: Volunteers are needed to participate in and help execute the walk. To sign up, visit kidneywalk.org.
CONTACT: The National Kidney Foundation, 3109 Forbes Ave., #101, Oakland. 412.261.4115.
THE MISSION: To inspire and educate all with the beauty and importance of plants; to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research; and to celebrate its historic glasshouse
THE PROJECTS: Discovery Activities at Phipps, Homegrown, and Let’s Move Pittsburgh
WHAT THEY DO: Discovery Activities at Phipps allows volunteers to interact with young visitors through hands-on nature and plant-related activities; Homegrown helps families in Homewood plant edible gardens at their homes; and Let’s Move Pittsburgh is a collaboration of organizations, parents, and caregivers in Southwestern Pennsylvania who help improve the health of our region’s children and families.
WHO THEY HELP: Phipps’ projects benefit the members of our community by teaching them the importance of protecting the environment, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly.
HOW TO HELP: To sign up for one of these projects, call 412.622.6915 x 6958 or email email@example.com.
CONTACT: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, 1 Schenley Drive, Oakland. 412.622.6914.
THE MISSION: To provide families with seriously ill children receiving medical treatment a home away from home, and to help children and their families lead happier, healthier, and more productive lives
THE PROJECT: Year-Round Volunteers
WHAT IT DOES: These volunteers serve as greeters, assist with apartment preparation, and provide additional support to families who stay at the Ronald McDonald House. Their service ensures that the staff can fully meet the needs of the families.
WHO IT HELPS: Nearly 1,000 families with seriously ill children stay at the Ronald McDonald House each year so they can focus solely on the well-being of their children.
HOW TO HELP: To sign up as a volunteer, contact the volunteer coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONTACT: The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh, 451 44th St., Downtown. 412.362.3400.
THE MISSION: To preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination
THE PROJECT: The Salvation Army’s Most Amazing Race
WHAT IT DOES: Similar to the TV show, The Amazing Race, the fundraiser challenges teams of two to compete in physical and mental challenges throughout Pittsburgh. Participants will raise funds for The Salvation Army’s youth programming, while learning more about the nonprofit’s programs and services.
WHO IT HELPS: Funds raised at the event will support children throughout Allegheny County by providing meals, recreational programs, music instruction, homework tutoring, character development programs, and more.
HOW TO HELP: With 12-16 challenges in the race, volunteers are needed to manage each one, judge the performances, and distribute clues. To sign up as a participant or volunteer along the course, visit mostamazingrace.org.
CONTACT: The Salvation Army, 700 North Bell Ave., Carnegie. 412.446.1500.
THE MISSION: To foster Christian community development in the North Side by changing lives one person, one family, one block at a time
THE PROJECT: 2015 Urban Impact Golf Outing on September 21
WHAT IT DOES: Held at Cranberry Highlands Golf Course, the outing raises funds for Urban Impact’s programs in the areas of performing arts, athletics, and education, which are then used to build relationships and mentorships with children.
WHO IT HELPS: At-risk youth and their families in the North Side benefit from these programs.
HOW TO HELP: To join the event team or help on the day of the event, contact Cindy Dell at 412.321.3811 x120 or email@example.com.
CONTACT: Urban Impact, 801 Union Ave., North Side. 412.321.3811.
THE MISSION: To be a caring community of faith committed to bringing people to Christ and developing their faith through worshiping God together, teaching the faith, and serving in mission
THE PROJECT: The Pocket Change Project
WHAT IT DOES: The project invites people to donate their spare pocket change to an ongoing mission that helps sponsor school children in La Croix, Haiti.
WHO IT HELPS: Every $240 collected will sponsor a child for one year, including a quality education, a school uniform, and a daily meal.
HOW TO HELP: To donate your own pocket change, or to get your group involved in the project, email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also purchase a new children’s book, “The Pocket Change Project,” starting June 15. All proceeds will contribute to child sponsorship.
CONTACT: Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2040 Washington Road, Upper St. Clair. 412.835.6630.