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Open House shows what All of Us Care in Sharpsburg offers youths

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Donald McNulty, 16, uses computers after school at the All of us Care program in Sharpsburg.

What started as a computer center for Fox Chapel Area School District students has grown into much more, and leaders are eager to show it off in hopes of attracting more youths.

All of Us Care, a program of Volunteers of America, will host an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 17 for parents, children, community members and school leaders. The site is at 1650 Main St., Sharpsburg.

“At first, we wanted somewhere for children to spend time in a safe, supervised manner,” said Director Hanna Ufnar.

“We have transformed into a place where children commit to helping themselves and others.”

Aimed at preventing youth crime and substance abuse, All of Us Care provides positive activities to engage children. It offers an open gym, reading activities, summer enrichment series and student leadership committee.

“The point is to open it up to people who may have heard of it or driven past but aren't familiar with what happens here,” Ufnar said. “We want them to check out what we're doing as it relates to them.”

Open from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays, the program brings in about 30 kids each week. It is free and open to the more than 30,000 residents of the Lower Valley.

Andrew Caldwell, 18, stops at the center a few times a week to use the free computers. The Fox Chapel Area senior said it helps to have access to the technology for school work as well as keeping up with current events.

Ufnar said the program is about more than using computers. Children who attend are expected to learn how to care for themselves and their community.

“In order to earn recreation time on the computers, kids have to commit to one of our programs like homework help, anti-bullying, youth council or community service,” Ufnar said.

The literacy program, for example, helps to encourage a passion for reading.

Community service includes projects such as weeding the garden at the Sharpsburg library or visiting patients at St. Mary's Courtyard senior living center.

“It's a great way for kids to recognize the needs of their community and learn how a small step at a time can make a change,” Ufnar said.

Sharpsburg resident Don McNulty, 16, participates in the PNC Financial Literacy group. Twice a month, a banking representative meets with students to educate them about money.

“It's skills you need to have,” McNulty said. “And then we get to use the computers for fun.”

For details on the open house, or to register for an afterschool program, call 412-782-5344.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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