Pittsburgh Community Services, Inc: 30 years and still serving

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THANKS FOR THE SUPPORT—Master of Ceremonies for the evening, Charlie Batch stands with the PCSI 2012/2013 award recipients.  From left: Tony Bell, Howard B. Slaughter Jr., Brian Knavish, Darryl McAbee, Christina Wilds, and Luther and Roxanne Sewell. (Photos by Diane Daniels)

 

In 1983 when Pittsburgh Community Services, Inc. was established as the designated City of Pittsburgh Community Action Agency, its purpose was to administer Community Service Block Grant funds. Since then it now services 8,500 individuals annually, has had three executive directors and has survived the administration of five United States presidents including the first African-American.

 

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A TIME TO SHINE—Howard B. Slaughter Jr., center, is surrounded with PCSI Executive Director Cecelia A. Jenkins and Board President Davie S. Huddleston as he receives the groups’ Gwen Elliott President’s Award.

 

“PCSI remains strong, resilient, and flexible in its response to serving the needs of individuals and families,” specified Executive Director Cecelia Jenkins, during its 2013 annual meeting. “PCSI has worked diligently through its mission and vision to empower individuals and families through advocacy and quality services which promote self-sufficiency and economic empowerment.”

To address the causes of poverty and to diminish its effects through the development, implementation, sponsorship, and support of programs and activities designed to enable and empower low-income residents of the City of Pittsburgh to make measurable progress on the continuum from impoverishment to self-sufficiency is the PCSI mission.

Viewing its three decades as a time to be grateful, to reflect, to celebrate and a time to give thanks, the group utilized its annual meeting to do so.  Awards were presented to supporters and participants and an after party took place with music provided by DJ Nick Nice.

“We are all about helping people become self-sufficient and Charles Batch through his Best of the Batch Foundation embodies PCSI’s mission,” said PCSI Board Chairman Davie S. Huddleston while introducing the master of ceremony of the evening.

The Homestead native and former Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback since 2000 has operated the foundation. Its goal, according to Batch is to provide financially challenged youth and their families with the purpose, desire, and resources to give their best efforts in all they do throughout their lives. His message to the attendees was to think outside the box.

“In todays’ time it is necessary to enhance your social media skills because that is the way to get the word out about your organizations,” he pointed out.

“Kids coming through your organizations are on Twitter communicating with 140 characters. You have to understand the language they are using if you want to solve the problems of today.”    

Award recipients included Tony Bell, a retired social worker, and Luther and Roxanne Sewell of LJS Publishing received the Community Award; Duquesne Light Company received the Corporate Award; Dr. Christina Wilds of the Highmark Foundation received the Highmark Foundation, Partner­­ship/­­­Collaboration Award; Dr. Howard B. Slaughter Jr. of the Epilepsy Foundation of Western/Central Pennsylvania received the Gwen Elliott President’s Award; and Darryl McAbee of D&M Carpet Care received the Self-Sufficiency Award.

Complimenting PCSI on the work they do, Slaughter pointed out that Jenkins has vision.

“People without vision will parish,” he reminded.

“There is no place I’d rather be than with PCSI as they celebrate their thirtieth anniversary,” stated Donald Mathis, president of the Community Action Partnership based in Washington, D.C. “This organization helps lift people out of poverty. They are a part of a movement.”

Providing a wide range of services making a positive impact within the communities it serves, PCSI is located at 249 North Craig Street. It services city residents who are at or below 125 per cent federal poverty guidelines.  

In 2009 Sen. Jim Ferlo recognized PCSI as the programmatic arm of the Environment and Energy Community Outreach Center.  Since 2012, the Center has been committed to providing the tools and knowledge necessary within communities for the creation of personal lifestyles and economic models that reduce the human carbon footprint and function within the ecological limits of the planet. Located in the East End on the corner of Larimer Avenue and East Liberty Boulevard, the EECO Center combines resources for greening homes and businesses with a person–to-person connection to utility companies. The EECO Center will improve awareness about utility consumer programs and sustainable practices, as well as ways for residents to better use energy within their homes.    

As reported during the annual meeting, PCSI is funded by the Community Services Block Grant through the conduit of the PA Department of Community and Economic Development and through allocations designated through the City of Pittsburgh’s Community Block Grant, foundations and individuals.

 

 

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