McCandless resident is award finalist for growing community
Teresa Amelio of McCandless was just being helpful when she arrived at North Hills Community Outreach to volunteer after retiring from teaching foreign languages at Pine-Richland High School.
She worked the little projects, she said, and then found herself helping at the organization's food pantries — one on Ferguson Road in Hampton Township and the other in Bellevue, her old hometown.
Whenever she visited, she remembered.
“My heart was tugging at the idea for a garden in Bellevue,” she said, “just like my parents grew.”
Today, those little tugs have produced an urban farm — on the same ground that her family tended. In two seasons, the land — about an acre — has yielded thousands of pounds of organic vegetables to feed the hungry through the outreach's program. The garden is named for her mother, Rosalinda Sauro Sirianni.
Because of Amelio's efforts and enthusiasm, she now is one of five finalists being considered for the Pittsburgh Volunteer Citizen of the Year Award sponsored by Direct Energy, an energy and energy-related service provider, and Trib Total Media.
Fay Morgan, executive director of North Hills Community Outreach, based in Hampton, nominated her. The winner will be announced at a March 30 gala.
“Terri gave both time and her treasure,” said Morgan, 60, of Shaler Township, who has led the outreach organization for 19 years. “She treasured that land. It fed her own family. She easily could have used the land for her own purpose, but she chose to use it to feed others.”
Amelio, 74, remembered doing inside chores as a young girl, while her parents and four brothers worked the soil in the empty lot across the street. The dirt grew rich and dark.
“‘Teresa, put on the pasta water,' I would hear them say,” she said.
No matter the meal, something from the family garden made it to the Sirianni table.
After she and her brothers inherited the land, Amelio persuaded them to sign over their portions of the property to North Hills Community Outreach. No one ever had given the organization property before, so it took some time for the board to determine how the land could be acquired.
In 2005, Amelio presented her idea of the garden gift. In 2011, the garden was dedicated. Another property also was purchased at a sheriff sale, so there would be a source of water for the plants. The garden rests comfortably next to Luigi Sirianni Memorial Field, a diamond for local baseball players that is named for her father.
Via ongoing fundraising, the garden has a fence, storage building, tools, a high tunnel greenhouse, trellises, fruit trees, flowers, picnic tables and plenty of space to keep the hundreds of volunteers busy through the growing season. At last count, the memorial garden had produced nearly 10,000 pounds of food – grown without pesticides — for more than 1,000 families.
There are plans for a beehive, berry patch and a children's garden. All will be under the watchful eye of Rosie Wise, garden coordinator.
“It's amazing what grows out of this spot,” Amelio said. “Volunteers have said when they touch the dirt, that it is so soft. They can put their hands in the dirt up to their elbows.”
She credits her parents for their wise ways of horticulture.
“They were immigrants,” she said. “They came and worked that land. Now, it is used for the good of the community.”
Amelio will accept her honor on her parents' behalf and with appreciation for the volunteers who keep the project going.
“I'm humbled and satisfied. I accept the honor that it's working,” she said.
“The garden came from a little idea, a little dream that was so strong for me. It honors my parents, and the garden is still in use. It makes me cry.”
Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fish-fry Fridays in North Hills form friendship, fellowship
- North Allegheny graduate receives prestigious scholarship
- Photo Gallery: Chinese New Year at Ross Elementary
- Shaler Area students gear up for production of ‘Mary Poppins’
- Former Steeler Hoge discusses concussions with North Hills student-athletes
- Photo Gallery: St. Teresa of Avila fish fry
- Developer selling home sites in Marshall’s Venango Estates
- Sign welcoming commuters to Shaler planned for Route 8
- Hampton couple finds key to lengthy, loving relationship
- Ross committee created to find uses for former school
- Ross art show to be held in conjunction with Women’s Day