Business, education and community service were the focus of the Community Appreciation Benefit for the third consecutive year. Sponsored by Our House Development, Inc. the purpose of the mid-autumn event was to salute and celebrate the accomplishments of Homewood leaders and to bring awareness of the importance of economics to the community as well as the culture and history.
“This is an exciting time for the entire East End area,” said Dawn Webb Turner, organizer of the event. “Our intent is to help stir an awareness of the importance of economics in our communities.”
The Community Appreciation Benefit, held at the Greater Pittsburgh Coliseum, paid homage to Homewood business leaders, individuals in education and organizations servicing the Homewood community. “It’s our way of saying thank you to people for their contributions in their perspective fields of expertise,” said Webb Turner.
Awardees in the education category included Robert Burley, Lance Carter Sr. and George A. Webb Sr. Business recognition went to Angels Car Care Center, Henderson’s Barber Shop and the Southern Platter. Service in Community awards went to the Carnegie Library Homewood-Brushton Branch, the YWCA of Homewood-Brushton, and Bible Center Church.
Once known as the number one soul food restaurant in Pittsburgh, Mary Louise Burns was elated that Our House Development recognized her husband, Art for his dedication and commitment of operating the Southern Platter in Homewood for more than 20 years. “His heart was there. He knew everyone and loved them all,” said an emotional Burns. A Homewood resident most of his life, Burns thought it was vibrant and necessary to have a restaurant in the community. Aside from his cooking skills, Mr. Burns was also a good artist. His art work decorated the walls as murals in his banquet facility.
In business since 1956, Angel’s Car Care Center was started by Jerry Marrone as Bear Alignment Services. Located at 6888 Hamilton Ave. for 38 years Angel’s Car Care is now operated by the originators son, Jerry Jr.
Once a three generational business, Henderson’s Barber Shop established by George Henderson Sr. has been located at 7333 Frankstown Avenue since 1947. His son George Jr. took over and in 1980 his son Steve became involved with the shop. Currently Steve and George Jr’s brother Anthony Hamilton Sr. operate the business.
“We taught at Westinghouse in turbulent times,” said Burley referring to his, Carter and Webb’s tenure. “We turned acorns into trees. I loved teaching at Westinghouse. It was the greatest experience in my life. Things at the school are changing, but they cannot change the legacy.” Burley is a former teacher, basketball coach and vice principal of Westinghouse High School. A member of the Pittsburgh Westinghouse High School Hall of Fame he is currently providing consulting and guidance to various school districts, organizations and corporations and is a sought after speaker and training leader.
Carter has 33 years teaching experience of which 18 were spent at Westinghouse as a special education teacher and activities director.
The first African-American inducted into the Pennsylvania Coaches Hall of Fame, Webb, in his 24 years as Westinghouse High School head football coach had a 156-82-2 record with a winning percentile of .658. His team known for their pride, dedication and aggressive style won the Pittsburgh City League Championship five times and was runner-ups four times. Webb was awarded coach of the year seven times. Jokingly, he said he was an art teacher for 35 years, but people thought he taught physical education. “We don’t have to worry about our future because kids today are more intelligent than we were,” said Webb. “I know these kids will survive.”
An integral part of the Homewood community since 1910, the Homewood Branch of the Carnegie Library is considered a jewel of the 18 city branches. In 2003 the library underwent a $3.5 million dollar renovation. The facility now has a 300 seat auditorium, an African Art collection that includes over 12,000 items of popular and historical information and several meeting rooms.
The YWCA Homewood-Brushton Community Center, an entity of the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh, provides a variety of amenities to the community. Services include early childhood education, teen programs, health education and housing programs.
A family based institution, Bible Center Church of God in Christ was established in 1956. Throughout the years the church has gained the reputation for its outreach ministries. It is actively involved in street ministry and engages in programs that improve the community.
Richard Adams of the Community College of Allegheny County and Esther Bush of the Urban League of Pittsburgh, both Westinghouse High School graduates, served as master and mistress of ceremonies for the Community Appreciation Benefit. Entertainment was provided by the Helen S. Faison Choir, the African American Music Institute Youth Ensemble, vocalist Carmen Miller and line dancing by Roland Ford.
The Economic Awareness Day, held at the Carnegie Library of Homewood consisted of mini-workshops, an African market of vendors and information tables.
Concerned that African-American youth are not aware of their history or understand economics, Webb-Turner operates Our House Development as a way to help educate them on true history and culture, science, math, business and finance. She indicated that its primary goal is to help prepare students to become young entrepreneurs, while utilizing the arts and culture as a positive medium to educate, promote, and reinstate self-pride. She is developing the George A. Webb Learning Institute as a way to accomplish her goal. Proceeds from the Economic Awareness Day & Community Appreciation Benefit help support her efforts in developing the learning institute and museum.
Webb Turner is a 2009 New Pittsburgh Courier 50 Women of Excellence awardee, a 2009 recipient of the “Promise Award” given by the Young Preservation Association of Pittsburgh, and a member of the African-American Chamber of Commerce of Western PA and the National Association of Female Executives. Community activities include the Homewood-Brushton Public Safety committee, the Westinghouse High School Parent, School, Community, Council and the Westinghouse High School Commission of Recognition.