Daily Archive: July 7, 2010


Community icon Lavelle dead at 94

Robert R. Lavelle, the man who made buying a home a reality for thousands of Pittsburgh’s African-Americans when racism and red­lining made loans from traditional banks and mortgage lenders impossible, who wrote Bible verses on billing statements and who prayed for men who robbed his bank, has died. He was 94. Lavelle passed away July 4, after having suffered a stroke on Father’s Day while giving the keynote address at Grace Mem­orial Presbyterian Church where he served as an elder, taught Sunday school and led a weekly Bible study for nearly 50 years. ROBERT R. LAVELLE The foun­der of La­velle Real Estate and the past president and CEO of Dwelling House Savings and Loan, Robert Lavelle was revered throughout Pittsburgh’s Black community, especially in the Hill District where he lived and ran his businesses. Lavelle essentially rescued Dwelling House from near ruin in 1957. At that time his real estate company was seeking a mortgage on a nearby property, but was told the loan association could not comply due to withdrawals exceeding liquid assets. Open only a few days of the month, Lavelle suggested they open full time, that they share space with his firm, so they could afford to staff the then Dwelling House Building and Loan Association until it grew.



26 of 38 homicides Black lives…A time for action as 7 of 8 in June were Black

With seven out of the eight murders for the month of June being Black and all 30 years old and under, enough is enough. And it’s us killing us. Now, one cannot even attend a birthday party without worrying about getting shot. It is time for action. It’s time to stop talking about it. The vigils, marches and peace talks are fine, but there is a need for us to do more. It’s time to use all the plans and ideas that have been created and put them into action. We cannot afford to lose another person. As part of an ongoing effort to heighten awareness about the effects of murder in the Black community, the New Pittsburgh Courier will compile a list of homicides in the county each month. It is our hope that as the list of victims grows, so will a true understanding of how these lost lives affect the mental health, economic well-being and self-images of the region’s Black neighborhoods.


Courier honors 50 Women of Excellence

For the third year the New Pittsburgh Courier will host its 50 Women of Excellence luncheon at the Westin Convention Center Hotel. The July 14 event recognizes some of Pittsburgh’s most successful and influential African-American women. As in past years, this list of honorees includes women representing a variety of career fields and community service callings. MARILYN BARNETT “I appreciate this initiative by the Courier because it recognizes women in our community who are doing extraordinary things. They’re some of the unsung heroes or sheroes who deserve to be spotlighted,” said Lamont Jones, who nominated one of this year’s honorees. “Keep doing what you’re doing and do even more because it’s needed. This year’s event is sponsored by Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Carlow University, PNC, UPMC, The Institute for Transfusion Medicine, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, the University of Pittsburgh and Onyx Women Network.


Pittsburgh Promise to raise scholarships

The message is simple. “Live in our city, attend our schools and we’ll send you to college with a $20,000 scholarship.” That’s the motto for the Pittsburgh Promise, a program that offers scholarships to Pittsburgh Public School students who meet certain requirements. In two years, the stakes will be even higher when the amount of the scholarship is raised to $40,000. PROMISE TEAM—From left: Franco Harris, Saleem Ghubril, Sandra N. Danoff, Edie Shapira, Grant Oliphant, Anne Lewis, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Cindy Shapira, David Shapira and David J. Malone. To date, 1,690 scholarships have been awarded with another 750 expected from the recent batch of graduates. Local leaders delivered this and more during a report to the community July 1 at the O’Reilly Theater. “There are amazing stories about the impact of the Promise,” said former Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris.



Parham served in only Black D-Day unit

(Part one of a series) Since the founding of this nation, men and women have had to continue to fight for the rights proclaimed on Independence Day. Over the past century, millions of African-Americans have served in the armed forces to protect America’s freedom. For some, the environment was one where racial discrimination ran rampant. Still, many others found the military as a place where color lines were blurred and brotherhoods were forged with men from different races and cultures. LIVING LEGEND—Henry Parham is one of the few remaining members of the 320th Battalion for Anti-Aircraft Barrage Balloons. For World War II veteran Henry Parham discrimination in the military was no worse than the everyday discrimination he experienced in his hometown of Green­ville, Va. After being drafted in 1942 he joined the all-Black 320th Battalion for Anti-Aircraft Barrage Balloons.


Wilkinsburg weeds through residents’ concerns to seed action

Blight, education and safety were just a few of the major concerns expressed by Wilkinsburg residents at the Everything Counts community forum held on June 23 by Weed and Seed community initiative, in conjunction with the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, at South Avenue United Methodist Church. “We would like our initiative to be community- driven,” said Gail Mitchell Hall, site coordinator of the Wilkinsburg Borough Weed and Seed Initiative. “We’d like to see what the residents’ needs are. We will hold (forums) on a regular basis and we feel they are important.” COMMUNITY COMMITMENT—Gail Mitchell Hall of Weed and Seed discusses how the organization is working to improve the life of Wilkinsburg residents. Weed and Seed has been in existence since 2002 and is a state-funded strategy initiative to bring together residents, local government and business owners to create strategies of solutions to increase the quality of life for the Wilkinsburg community. After the former coordinator left, Hall took over in July of 2009 as the full-time coordinator after being hired as a consultant in March of the same year.


Shop 'n Save coming to Hill

After years of failed negotiations, the Hill House Economic Development Corporation announced Wednesday July 7 that Shop ‘n Save owner Jeff Ross has signed an agreement to operate a new 29,500 square-foot store in the Hill District. Despite near triple-digit temperatures, more than 100 Hill residents, corporate and political leaders, and project supporters met on the building site across Centre Avenue from the Hill House to celebrate the news. “Hot or not, this is a huge day for the Hill District. This is the result of a lots of work, especially by the community coming together to focus on achieving this goal,” said. Hill House President and CEO Victor Roque. “I am pleased to announce that we have a signed agreement with Shop ‘n Save.”


West Penn Hospital cutting 1,500; emergency room closing

When she heard that West Penn Hospital in Bloomfield would be laying off personnel and moving many in-patient services to Allegheny General, retiree Paulette Hicks was saddened about the employees, but worried about care options. All of my doctors are at West Penn,” she said. “What am I supposed to do now, go all the way to the North Side?” HEALTH CARE EMERGENCY—West Penn Allegheny Health Services to layoff 1,500 and close the ER at West Penn Hospital.


Speak Out…Has the recent rash of shootings in McKeesport affected your life?

There was a rash of shootings in McKeesport last month, six in eight days, so we asked McKeesport residents if it affected them. Here’s what you said: “It’s disturbing that it has been going on. It has touched home. There has been a lot of senseless killing. It makes no sense for young Black men to be doing this and I am leery about where I go.”Gidget JonesMcKeesportHome aide Gidget Jones, Henry Robinson, Emmett Turner


Community Calendar

Flea market JULY 10—Citiparks will host a Flea Market from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. at Brookline Memorial Recreation Center, 1400 Block of Brookline Blvd., Brookline. Space is free, but everyone must bring his or her own table. For more information, call 412-571-3222. Home buying workshop JULY 12—Dollar Bank and the Pittsburgh Housing Development Association Inc. will host a Home Buying Workshop at 6 p.m. at the Wilkinsburg Borough Building, Auditorium, 605 Ross Ave., Wilkinsburg. Counselors will be on hand to show individuals how one can own their own home and about grant money for closing costs. Affordable mortgage and down payments, programs for public housing residents, credit counseling and a free credit report will be given. Registration is requested and the workshop is free to all. For more information, call 412-687-1197 or visit http://www.phdainc.org.