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Fundraiser illuminates Greensburg shelter's ongoing needs

| Thursday, June 19, 2014, 8:55 p.m.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Michelle Vucish Albert mingles with attendees during her candle fundraiser for the Welcome Home Shelter on Saturday, June 14, 2014 at Pizza Siena in Greensburg.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Michelle Vucish Albert mingles with attendees during her candle fundraiser for the Welcome Home Shelter on Saturday, June 14, 2014 at Pizza Siena in Greensburg.

Michelle Vucish of Greensburg wanted to raise awareness about the city's emergency shelter for women and families and at the same time generate funds for the group.

She and others organized a candle-sale fundraiser Saturday at Pizza Siena in Greensburg for the Welcome Home Shelter on South Maple Avenue.

Once a group becomes established, people can sometimes forget that the need for money continues, even as charities compete for the same dollars, Vucish explained.

“My goal was to get the word out that it was there,” Vucish said.

“The work they do is phenomenal. I was very touched by it.”

Welcome Home is a 30- to 60-day emergency shelter for homeless families and women. It houses an average of 250 people annually.

The money and publicity help the shelter, especially in times of government funding cuts, said Lyndsay Burrik, shelter supervisor.

“Without the support of the community, we wouldn't be able to do what we do,” she added.

Vucish began organizing an online sale of candles through PartyLite months ago.

The company, based in Plymouth, Mass., donated half of the proceeds to the shelter, Vucish said.

Pizza Siena donated its banquet room to be used for the fundraiser, and DeLallo's Italian Market in Jeannette gave a gift basket.

In addition, participants brought donated articles — such as cosmetics, shampoo and diapers — to the fundraiser.

“Right before it started we had two tables full of soap, razors, you name it,” Vucish said.

She estimated at least $1,000 was raised through the candle sales, with some sales not yet finalized.

“We got orders from all over Pennsylvania, Florida, Kentucky, even England,” Vucish said.

This week, the shelter was at maximum capacity with 17 adults and eight children. The shelter accepts men if they are with children and part of a family, Burrik said.

“We are full right now, and we do always have a waiting list,” she said.

This week, Welcome Home needed to refer 12 families to other shelters or charity groups because it was full, Burrik said.

The shelter has four semi-private family rooms that hold up to six. One dorm room with five bunk beds, lockers and dressers, accommodates single women. A community room offers a television, and a large eat-in kitchen is available for food preparation on an individual basis. The site has laundry facilities.

The shelter, which opened in October 2002, is affiliated with Connect Inc. It is part of Charleroi-based Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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