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October 24, 2013

Community outreach projects set

Pitt is planning its fall community outreach initiatives.

Kannu Sahni, director for community relations, reported on those initiatives at a recent University Senate community relations committee meeting.

• The annual “Pitt’s People for Pets” campaign, which helps feed local pets in need, has a new connection with Pitt Athletics’ “Hometown vs. Hunger” food drive. Pitt’s People for Pets collects pet food and donations for the Animal Friends Chow Wagon, a program that supplies 23 area food pantries so that families do not have to choose between feeding their pets or themselves.

This year’s Pitt’s People for Pets drive starts Oct. 31 and will conclude at the Pitt vs. Buffalo Hometown vs. Hunger women’s basketball game at 2 p.m. Dec. 1.

Collection sites will be set up in locations across campus, including at the Petersen Events Center. Details will be announced later this month.

• Pitt employees are encouraged to organize drives in their schools and departments in November for new socks, hats, scarves and gloves.

Pitt’s annual sock-a-thon has collected thousands of pairs of new socks for homeless shelters, daycare and after-school centers. Hats, scarves and gloves are given to guests at the annual Christmas Day at Pitt dinner.

Last year, 1,600 meals were served at the dinner for the homeless and those in need, Sahni told the University Times. Given the continuing struggle faced by so many in the regional community, more guests are expected this year, he said.

Donations can be dropped off at 710 Alumni Hall, or pickup can be arranged by calling community and governmental relations (4-7755) or emailing

In other business at CRC’s Oct. 15 meeting:

• Tricia Nowalk, faculty member in the Department of Family Medicine and project director at UPMC’s Matilda Theiss Health Center, provided details on the University’s outreach and enrollment team’s plans for helping uninsured people acquire health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Trained application counselors will be in the Hill District on weekdays and on the Pitt campus on Saturdays to assist those who wish to determine their eligibility under the ACA or who would like to enroll in a qualified health care plan. For appointments, call 412/383-2359.

Nowalk noted that open enrollment in the insurance marketplace runs through March 31, but insurance plans start Jan. 1. Those wishing to be covered in January must enroll by Dec. 15.

• Mary Davidson Williams of the Oakland Business Improvement District announced a campaign in partnership with Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University to promote Oakland as a center for tech startups. A kickoff event is set for 4-7 p.m. Oct. 30 at Revv Oakland, 122 Meyran Ave. The event will include food, music and tours of incubator spaces.

• Trevor Smith of Community Human Services said volunteers are needed to help plan next year’s Oakland Forever event. The neighborhood celebration, established this year, will mark Oakland’s 175th anniversary in September.

• CRC co-chair Laurie Cohen is soliciting suggestions for the committee’s field trip, which typically takes place in April. The committee has visited in Larimer and Hazelwood in previous years.

• In his report on construction projects underway on campus, John Wilds, assistant vice chancellor for community relations, noted that work to install steam lines between the Carrillo Street steam plant and mid-campus Pitt buildings and UPMC hospitals likely will conclude around the end of 2013. The stairs in front of the Petersen Events Center will be reconfigured and the affected streets repaired, he said.

• CRC’s next meeting is set for Nov. 19 at Community Human Services in Oakland. Because parking is limited, group transportation has been arranged. RSVP by Oct. 28 to Lovie Jackson Foster ( to reserve a seat. The agenda will include a video documentary by Browne Leadership Fellows in the School of Social Work on residents’ perspectives of their South Oakland neighborhood.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 46 Issue 5

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