Fox Chapel woman devoted to improving community

| Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

Amanda Carvelli predicts this weekend's third annual River Rocks bash will be spectacular fun.

She and the two other co-chairwomen are putting the finishing touches on the preparations this week as the final tickets are being snapped up for the event, which is Friday.

“This isn't going to be the last party. Don't worry,” Amanda said.

Because Aspinwall Riverfront Park is funded by donations, and River Rocks is the one and only fundraiser, public support is vital.

Amanda wants anyone who misses out on this week's party to realize there is a lot to be done before the waterfront is ready for families.

Right now, the park area accessed off Freeport Road, close to Brilliant Avenue, is off limits to the public as earth is moved and design becomes reality. Safety precludes visitors now, and piles of work — literally — need to be done before plans, such as the fishing wharf and walking paths, become a reality.

“Do you know how much a bulldozer costs to rent for a week?” Amanda asked.

Petite and chic, Amanda looks like the last person who would worry about money but mentions the need to watch every penny a number of times.

The balance is to make the party shine yet add to the park's piggy bank.

Many of the special touches are creative.

The speakeasy theme will include hand-rolled cigars.

Smokes, a local company, is donating all proceeds from the night.

“We really had fun with it, bouncing ideas off each other,” Amanda said of working with the other co-chairwomen, Sarah Tuthill and Diane Walsh.

They started right after the winter holidays and met once or twice each week. Often they researched ideas.

They listened to bands online. They discovered recipes from the 1920s, such as Toll House Cookies.

Today, Thursday, and Friday, finishing touches will be made at Fox Chapel Golf Club; however, things kicked into high gear last Saturday.

Amanda turned the family table into a production center. The former marketing and advertising account manager created posters.

Amanda said her garage still has flecks of neon paint after creating last year's giant guitars. Luckily, the rest of the Carvelli home displays her style. Bright colors pop from her favorite black-and-white background.

The family home is tucked into one of the many twists and turns on Fairview Road.

Amanda and her husband have redone their backyard.

They have a large patio and extended play area and a creek that borders the property.

“My favorite time is with my family on the back patio, digging in the dirt or around the fireplace,” Amanda said in her dark-coffee voice.

Amanda is devoted to her family.

In fact, her many volunteer activities are devoted to all children. Along with the Aspinwall Riverfront Park, she has served on the board and organized fundraisers for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. Amanda uses her creative ideas to help Fairview Elementary, too.

Amanda has a heritage of helping this community. Growing up in O'Hara, her parents, Tom and Gretchen Montgomery, were involved in the founding of the Boyd Community Center and library.

Now, she is creating another community asset for her girls and all children.

Sharon Drake is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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