North Hills Community Outreach expands presence in Bellevue facility
What might seem like nothing more than a hallway storage and supply closet at the Allegheny General Hospital Suburban campus in Bellevue can offer a sense of hope for families struggling to meet basic needs, said Jay Evans, a board member for North Hills Community Outreach.
The North Hills-based nonprofit group that provides assistance to families in need last week showed off its new space inside the Bellevue medical facility that's part of the Allegheny Health Network.
While the new digs aren't flashy, the space serves an important role in helping families meet their basic needs of obtaining food, paying bills and receiving support in tough times, Evans said.
“This room — although maybe not the nicest of the rooms we have — is the most important room in this expansion,” he said.
“It was difficult to have private, dignified meetings (with clients).”
The nonprofit serves families across the North Hills and Sewickley Valley, with much of the resources coming from the satellite office in Bellevue.
The regional hospital system offers space throughout the building for $1 a month, North Hills Community Outreach executive director Fay Morgan said.
That's important for an organization dependent upon donations from churches, businesses and private donors, she said.
Along with financial assistance, the organization provides a food-pantry program that serves, on average, 60 or 70 families per month, food pantry coordinator Brandi Rukovena said.
While the pantry offers the usual nonperishable goods, it also receives fresh produce from a variety of business donors and from a garden the nonprofit oversees a few blocks from the Bellevue offices.
“I'd rather give people really good organic food than a jar of peanut butter. We work really hard to get the fresh stuff that we do,” Rukovena said. “It's amazing the amount of produce we get.”
The garden offers about 3,000 pounds of produce. It is weeded and tended to by an array of volunteers, coordinator Mel Cronin said.
While nonperishable goods mostly come prepackaged for clients, produce can be hand picked, Rukovena said.
“It's a really cool way to teach families and kids about food,” Rukovena said.
To determine who benefits from the food pantry and other services offered, the organization mostly follows government guidelines for low-income families, she said — but not always.
“Unfortunately, what happens on paper isn't always what happens in life,” said Rukovena, noting that emergency situations can arise that causer families to need help.
For Morgan, the organization serves as a “conduit” for people to help others in their community.
“It's important for us to take care of our neighbors,” she said. “That's something you can't necessarily do directly.
“(North Hills Community Outreach is) very important because it's a safety net for people who fall on hard times. Every community has someone who needs help.”
Both Morgan and Evans said the organization serves at least one person in every northern suburb in which the group works.
“People think of northern Allegheny County as wealthy suburbs, but there are people out there with needs,” Evans said. “This is invaluable.”
Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Bobby Cherry to your Google+ circles.
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.