A reception to honor the first Urban Heroes class was held Nov. 15, at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture Downtown.

Sponsored by Geneva College at the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry, the Urban Heroes program was started this year to honor Pittsburgh residents who serve with distinction but often serve behind the scenes.

HONOREES—All honorees and organizers. Back row, from left: Bruce Bickel, Joseph Burke, Clifford Foster, George Spencer, Aaron Walton and Pastor William Glaze. Second row from left: Carlotta Burgess, Daryl Ford-Williams, Paul Harper, Greer Reed Jones, Rev. Barbara Gunn, and Inez Miles. Front row, from left: Karla Threadgill Byrd, Arnisha Keyes, Janet Scott-Mace, Karen Farmer-White, Ellen Sandridge, Dr. Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew and John W. Stanko. Not in photo are honorees Kenneth Barbour and Gloria Walton. (Photos by J.L. Martello).

“We have many adult students who come back to earn their degrees,” explained Karla Byrd, CUBM executive director. “We got to talking one day and thought it would be great to publish their stories of how they put children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and neighbors and now they were back in school themselves.”

John Stanko Ph.D, Urban Heroes cofounder and CUBM assistant director, said, “After we discussed telling our students’ stories, we thought that they probably had their own circle of friends whose stories need to be told. We put out an application and before we knew it, we had 20 qualified candidates.”

Stanko conducted the interviews, which included one with Karla Byrd. “We thought it interesting that Karla helped found the program and then got nominated and accepted,” Stanko explained. “That’s the way we want the Urban Heroes program to work. We want to find Urban Heroes who are worthy of honor but who may not receive it any other way.”

The 2010 class of Urban Heroes includes twenty people including one couple.The Heroes include Dr, Kenneth Barbour, Bruce Bickel, Carlotta Burgess, Joseph Burke, Karla Threadgill Byrd, Karen Farmer-White, Daryl Ford-Williams, Clifford Foster, Pastor William Glaze, Rev. Barbara Gunn, Paul Harper, Arnisha Keyes, Inez Miles, Dr. Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, Greer Reed-Jones, Ellen Sandidge, Janet Scott-Mace, George Spencer and Aaron and Gloria Walton.

“We are delighted at how the program turned out for the first year,” Byrd declared. “We have our 2011 applications ready and we are looking forward to our second class.”

“First things first,” Stanko interjected. “We first have to properly honor this year’s class and we plan on doing that in an elegant way.”

(For information on the Urban Heroes program, contact the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry at 412-247-9010 or at office@cubm.org. Applications for the 2011 Urban Heroes class is also available by calling or visiting the Urban Heroes website.)

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