The wine and beer flowed as people from all walks of life attended the Crushed Grapes wine tasting event, Sisters Place annual fundraiser.

“Crushed Grapes brings good people together with exceptional wine (and beer), great food, lovely music and fabulous auction packages,” explained Sister Mary Parks, executive director of Sisters Place.

TASTING THE WINE—Case Manager Tara Heath, left, pours Germaine L. Edmonds, program director, both of Sisters Place, a glass of wine. (Photos by J.L. Martello)

According to Crushed Grapes co-chair Meg Gleason, this year’s event brought more than 80 volunteers for the occasion.

“We’re celebrating a good cause. A little wine is good for you,” Gleason said.

Germaine L. Edmonds, program coordinator for Sisters Place, agreed with Gleason.

“This year we had an increase in the number of individuals who attended. We have people who had committed to the mission of Sisters Place.”

The event, now in its 10th year, has helped Sisters Place expand its service to help five more homeless families in 2011, which means the organization is helping 32 parents and more than 65 children with housing and services daily.

Founded in 1993 by the Catholic sisters of the Tri-Diocesan Sisters Leadership, Sisters Place provides a healthy, caring community for single, homeless parents and their children.

“Sisters Place have helped tremendously,” said Wilma McNeese, former chairman of the Board of Trustees at Sisters Place. “It’s amazing to hear people’s stories and to see where they end up. That makes it all worthwhile.”

Located in Clairton, the organization has 32 fully-furnished town homes scattered throughout the Century Townhomes site.

Statistics like that is what made sisters Janine and Margaret Glover decide to volunteer at the Crushed Grapes event for the second year in a row.

“Homeless and single-parent homes go through a lot. We are very fortunate because we have roofs over our heads,” Barbara Glover said. “You realize we are all one step from being homeless and that’s humbling. It makes you really appreciate what you have.”

Sisters Place has two kinds of subsidized housing. Permanent housing is open to women with physical or mental disabilities or drug and alcohol addiction and their children. While transitional housing offers support for young parents between the ages of 18 and 26. Families may live in rent-assisted housing for up to two years.

The initiative works closely with the Clairton Public School District, the Homeless Children’s Education Fund and other community groups. Those partners have created the Clairton Collaborative, providing training for school personnel and data sharing, along with outreach programs and guidance counselor meetings for parents at Sisters Place.

“Sisters Place is a good organization that helps women,” said Ricardo Williams when asked why he attended the Crushed Grapes fundraiser. “We really don’t have places that help women and this event highlights the good work that Sisters Place does.”

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