Ohio Township woman honored for philanthropy
By Joanne Barron
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 4:33 p.m.
Her colleagues use words like tireless, committed, team leader, inspirational, generous, doing more than just enough, and dedicated to describe Rachel Lorey Allen.
For her efforts at the Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, Sewickley Academy and several other organizations, the Ohio Township woman has been named 2013 National Philanthrophy Day Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser through the Western Pennsylvania chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).
Nominated by shelter, academy and Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh officials, Allen will be among 12 Western Pennsylvania individuals and organizations to be recognized at the Nov. 14 ceremony at the Senator John Heinz History Center.
Kristin Brown, the shelter's development manager and an AFP board member, said she never has had an event co-chairman who has invested as much time and energy as Allen.
For more than 24 years, Allen has organized the shelter's Spring Clothes Out event, a fundraiser that she founded in 1995 to collect business suits for women and raise awareness about how domestic violence affects professional women.
After many years, the shelter teamed up with the Junior League of Pittsburgh and National Council of Jewish Women, which both run thrift shops, to set up a program for women to shop for business suits free of charge.
Allen, a shelter board member, told of how one suit made a difference in one woman's life. She received the suit after she left her husband, ended up going back to him but continued to try on the suit every night. She vowed to wear it someday to a job, and one day, she did.
Allen said most women no longer wear business suits to work or to job interviews, so she changed the fundraiser to also solicit money for other essentials, such as sheets, underwear, pajamas and toiletries.
The annual fundraiser, still called Clothes Out, features an auction, cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, dinner and speeches from domestic violence survivors.
The Ted Craig Humanitarian Award also is given to honor the late Craig, with who Allen worked as a lawyer at K&L Gates and who was a big supporter of the shelter and event.The Spring Clothes Out raised about $100,000 last year, for a total of more than $1 million since its inception.
Allen, a retired partner from Jones Day law firm, works as general counsel for ALung Technologies Inc., a medical device company in the South Side.
Brown said Allen, who also serves as development committee chairman, digs in, does all she can do to make the event a success and is respected by fundraiser committee members.
“She's never afraid to ask on behalf of a cause, which is so important for our work. She has kept the mission with her in everything she does. It's all about helping the women and children we serve,” Brown said.
Allen also is a board member for Community College of Allegheny County Educational Foundation, which helps provide educations for women at the shelter, and for Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh, which helps to provide free health care for the women.
“When the economy is bad, stress goes up, and that means domestic violence goes up. While government funding is going down, the need is going up. The more we can do the better,” she said.
Allen, who is mom to Kathryn, 8, a third-grader at Sewickley Academy, helps with the school's annual fund and auction gala fund-raising events. The annual fund provides scholarship money and enrichment activities not covered by tuition, and the auction is one of the school's largest fundraisers.
Patti Stine, annual fund and auction director, said Allen's “tireless efforts demonstrate her commitment to philanthropy, and her talent to act as a team leader is an inspiration to all of our volunteers.”
Her many other volunteer efforts include working with the Brother's Brother Foundation and providing services for organizations that work to bring, keep and help businesses in the Pittsburgh area.
Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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