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Nonprofit groups essential for disadvantaged residents

| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 8:58 p.m.
The Herald
Ryane Corwin, left, along with her mother Heidi Corwin volunteer long hours wrapping gifts for the Spirit Of Christmas Program. Jan Pakler | for The Herald
The Herald
Owner of Pittsburgh Closets Lou Sebastian, left, and Glen Webber volunteer long hours with the Spirit Of Christmas Program. Pittsburgh Closets hosted the gift wrapping day on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. Jan Pakler | for The Herald
The Herald
Judy Oliver volunteering numerous hours to get gifts ready for the Sharpsburg Family Worship Center Network of Hope two day gift give away. Jan Pakler | for The Herald

Volunteers of America, which has an office in Sharpsburg, focuses its efforts on two programs in the Pittsburgh area — Working Order and All of Us Care.

Working Order is a business incubator that helps people with disadvantages and disabilities start and sustain their own business.

All of Us Care works to prevent crime and substance abuse for at-risk children.

This holiday season, Gateway Newspapers will highlight local nonprofit organizations to tell readers what the needs are in communities and the challenges groups face in meeting those needs throughout the suburbs.

J. Patrick Serey, chief development and marketing officer and vice president for Volunteer of America's southwestern region, said both programs have a steady need and they welcome any financial assistance.

“There's a constant demand for services in those two programs,” Serey said.

“We're routinely serving more than 500 children and youth through the All of Us Care program on an annual basis and more than 200 individuals through the Working Order program.”

Meeting various needs of the community and residents also is the goal for the Sharpsburg Family Worship Center.

The center works with the Network of Hope on several programs and looks to help others beyond the church.

“We don't necessarily want to be just a spiritual wellness church, we also want to be a place where people can meet their emotional needs and their physical needs,” Jamie Horne, children's ministry and outreach director, said.

The church teams with the Network of Hope for the Give A Gift program, which provides toys for families in need at Christmas, and Hope 4 the ‘Burgh, which provides school supplies, groceries and health screenings.

Families also got help this Christmas from The Spirit of Christmas.

The organization, which uses Bob's Garage in O'Hara for many fundraisers and events, provides presents for children.

Bob Paganico, the group's president, said members are thankful for the many volunteers who help each year and welcome people to help.

“Anybody who comes in here (Bob's Garage) basically volunteers,” Paganico said.

Economic struggles have meant that more people are in need of help.

“I think the added challenge over time has been the economy and the struggle that people in our area have encountered,” Serey said.

Horne said the type of support people need has grown.

“People have really, really big needs,” Horne said. “Not only physical needs but their emotional needs as well as they're trying to care for their children and work and find a job.”

All of the groups in the area are needed to help make the community a better place, Horne said.

“All of the nonprofits in the area are important,” Horne said. “It's not a competitive thing, it's let's work together to see what we can do to transform our community to make a difference.”

Tom McGee is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 1513 or tmcgee@tribweb.com.

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