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Whitaker looks to connect with community yard sale

| Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, 4:36 a.m.
Volunteers Paula Silvasy, Bob Silvasy, Dolly Hrinda, Trish Meyers and Rich Hrinda organize items that will be available at a weekend yard sale.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Volunteers Paula Silvasy, Bob Silvasy, Dolly Hrinda, Trish Meyers and Rich Hrinda organize items that will be available at a weekend yard sale.

There'll be far more on display during the Whitaker Community Yard Sale this weekend than lawn chairs and baby clothes.

Trish Meyers, head of Whitaker Community Cares, said the two-day event will demonstrate a much-needed show of solidarity.

“We need to be more connected as a community,” Meyers, 39, said. “Whitaker is a small town where everyone used to know everyone else, but it's not that way anymore. This yard sale is just something we can do to bring the community together.”

That sentiment is what prompted Meyers last year to start Community Cares, a group with about 30 volunteers dedicated to revitalizing the small borough.

“I was born and raised here and I'm part of the third generation of my family who have lived in Whitaker,” Meyers said. “But within the last two years, I've noticed the conditions declining. I felt I had the time and resources to be a person to make the changes needed.”

Last year, Community Cares raised more than $500 through a breakfast with Santa, and in June the group held the borough's first community day.

Meyers, a manager at Lowe's Home Improvement, applied for a grant through Lowe's Heroes, a corporate program that encourages employees to make a difference in their communities, to improve the borough's ball field this summer.

“Lowe's ended up donating mulch, paint and supplies to make the park a little nicer,” she said. “And my volunteers and I spent more than a dozen hours working on it.”

But by late August, vandals spray-painted graffiti on the baseball dugouts and benches, damaged the restrooms and threw a picnic table over a hillside.

“It was extremely upsetting,” Meyers said. “It was like somebody vandalized my house. The people who did it don't know the cost of their silly little stunt. The items could be fixed, but you can't get back all the time and effort we put into it.”

Although her husband painted over the graffiti and an electrician donated time to bring the restrooms back up to code, council voted to remove the hoops at the nearby basketball court, a perceived hot spot for criminal activity. Meyers said she was sad to see the changes made, but police Chief John Vargo said he believes the move has been beneficial to the community.

“The removal of the hoops might have alleviated a problem,” Vargo said. “So far, I haven't heard any complaints or calls from citizens. So I guess it's pretty quiet for now.”

Still, Meyers said there's a long way to go before the borough feels as welcoming as it once did.

“We're not considered a low-income area, so we don't qualify for a lot of funding,” she said. “So we really need to rely on each other to make any sort of positive change. It seems like everyone here has a complaint or nothing else to say. We need to get everyone connected and working together.”

That's where the community yard sale comes in. Meyers said she already has 15 households participating and she expects at least five to 10 more — and every little bit helps.

“Some of the people participating said they'll donate what they make back to Community Cares,” Meyers said. “And that's what this is really all about. Whitaker gets a bad rap. But if we can start looking out for each other and being more productive, we can make it a nicer place to live again.”

The yard sale will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Maps of participating houses will be available at Lizzie's Dairy on Whitaker Way. For more information about the event or Whitaker Community Cares, contact Meyers at 412-414-2493.

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1970, or tkaran@tribweb.com.

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