Close to Home: Peoples Partners with Urban Impact to Serve North Side During COVID-19
Despite the limitations of the pandemic, Urban Impact found new ways to serve the local community.
In 2014, Peoples teamed up with Urban Impact, a faith-based nonprofit serving the North Side community through athletics, education, and performing arts programs. The partnership soon grew into a lasting relationship that hit close to home, literally, for many Peoples employees.
“Peoples really strives to connect with our partners and support them beyond just a donation,” said Jamie Pavlovsky, Community Relations Specialist at Peoples. “Over the years, several of our Peoples employees – myself included – have volunteered with Urban Impact. We’ve spoken with students about careers at Peoples, we’ve had a chance to get to know Job Inc. students, we’ve cheered them on at their graduation celebrations. I know that the folks at Urban Impact have talked about their appreciation for Peoples’ partnership, but we really do feel like we get just as much out of it.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic came to the U.S. in the spring, Peoples turned to Urban Impact to see how Peoples could help. With much of Urban Impact’s regular programing on hold due to social distancing restrictions, Urban Impact launched their “Acts of Service” initiative to address the needs of students and families in the North Side of Pittsburgh by providing households with meals, groceries, and educational tools.
“We knew that Urban Impact has such a boots-on-the-ground presence, that they could really help kids and families in need around the North Side,” Pavlovsky said. “They mentioned their ‘Acts of Service’ initiative, and we felt that it was a meaningful way that we could help make a difference right away.”
Since the beginning of the campaign, Urban Impact has served more than 80,000 meals, made almost 30,000 trips, delivered more than 25,000 groceries, and supplied 132 educational tools.
Lisa Owens, Director of Options at Urban Impact, said in a Facebook live with Peoples earlier this year: “This has really been a nice opportunity for us to meet some of our parents and to meet real needs that they’ve had in this season. I feel like it’s strengthened our relationships with families. Even though we’re talking through masks and six feet apart, it’s really given us a way to show that we’re there for families, even though we can’t provide the services that we normally provide.”
With the loosening pandemic restrictions, Urban Impact was able to plan socially distant and virtual programming during the summer in addition to continuing their “Acts of Service” initiative.
“We had a great summer with students,” Owens said. “We had 11 students complete the Career Development class with CCAC. We ran a summer gardening program, and we had a summer baseball league & AAU Basketball. Our performing arts students also did 2 productions via video. Our education department did virtual learning with 30 students.”
Although fall may still look a little different this year, Urban Impact is finding new ways to serve the North Side community.
“For the fall, we are going to pilot a learning lab program,” Owens said. “We will bring two select groups of students to campus two days a week to assist them with their remote learning. We are excited to be able to meet parents’ needs for academic support for their children.”
Urban Impact is grateful for Peoples’ contribution to COVID-19 programming, but Peoples feels lucky to be able to contribute to a community so close to home.
“It’s easy to think of Peoples as another big utility company,” Pavlovsky said. “But we're also 1,300+ people who call this place home. As an employee, when I see Peoples helping organizations in my neighborhood and making a difference for my own neighbors and friends and family, it means the world to me. It makes me proud to be a part of this company.”
To get involved with Urban Impact, you can make a donation on their website at www.uifpgh.org or buy from their Amazon wish list to support their learning labs.