OHM’s Transitional Rental Program: A Personal Story

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By Liberty Ferda

Moving from EL Gardens to transitional rental

Imagine this scenario: You decide you want to own a home someday but can’t imagine how you’ll ever save enough for a down payment. Maybe it’s tough enough to support a family on your income and your biggest monthly expense—as for many people— is rent. You have to pay to live somewhere, of course, but how could you really get ahead in such a situation?

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Thanksgiving Reflections

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Image from: http://happythanksgivingimages.us/

This time last year, we were scurrying to get our annual thanksgiving letter together. I had been working with Open Hand Ministries for about 3 months and was still getting the hang of things. I was struggling to get the address labels printed, the envelopes stamped, and the letters folded in time. This year, things are progressing more smoothly. Conveniently for me, being on schedule has allowed me to take some time to reflect on this past year, and in the holiday spirit, I’ve been thinking a lot about the things that I feel incredibly grateful for. So, I’d like to share my letter of thanks to OHM.

Dear Open Hand Ministries,

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Volunteer at an OHM Saturday Workday!

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Volunteer with us on the 1st Saturday of every month (2nd Saturday when conflicting with a holiday) from 9am to 3pm.  Work will be construction related yet wide ranging – from demolition to drywall.  Contact Jodi at Jsalant@openhandpgh.org to reserve a spot for our next workday on December 3rd! 



Check out a Circles Meeting!

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Interested in seeing what Circles is all about? We would love to have you join us for a Circles meeting!

Contact Jodi at Jsalant@openhandpgh.org to schedule a visit.

Pittsburgh Urban Media Interviews OHM Participant Dom!

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Check out full article with pictures here and below:

PUM Black History Salutes: Dominic Odom, Pittsburgh Caterer who Appreciates putting the SOUL back in Food

DOM: I grew up on the Gulf Coast where fresh fruits and vegetables and seafood was abundant: Things that were commonplace that we took for granted included giant peaches in the summer; fresh melon varieties; satsumas that are usually shipped from California were grown by the local farmers. We had plum trees and pecan trees in our back yard. I had two grandmothers who were fantastic cooks. In retirement, my grandmother moved to Detroit Michigan where she helped her sister (also a great cook) run her restaurant. My great grandmother grew fresh vegetables. My grandfather, an outdoorsman who hunted and fished, regularly supplied us with fresh fish and crabs. He also was an “urban” farmer. He kept a chicken coop in his back yard before it was popular. I lived in New England for 15 years prior to moving to Pittsburgh in 1997.

PUM: Tell us more about your small catering business here in Pittsburgh, what sort of parties do you oversee?

DOM: When I first began catering, it was limited to desserts. I catered for friends. My first official catering job was for a friend who was an active fiber artist. I catered an event that she was hosting for 30 people. It was primarily a cocktail party where I supplied the appetizers and miniature desserts. This is still my favorite type of venue. I have catered luncheons for friends who are faculty members; confirmation parties; holiday parties; and sit-down dinners limited to 20 people. I custom tailor the menus according to the clients’ taste.

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OHM Featured In NextPittsburgh

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Sandra Tolliver of Next Pittsburgh wrote an awesome article about OHM and the work we do. Check it out here and below!

Deshawn Daniels remembers when friends from Open Hand Ministries introduced her to the Circles USA chapter in East Liberty. The group, which meets Tuesday evenings, would provide the support she needed to prepare to buy a home.

“I was like, ‘Do I want to do this, talk with people I don’t know?’ But I didn’t have any excuses. They provided daycare, provided a meal for that night. I went, and I’ve been there ever since.”

Her “allies” in the program, Sarah Heppenstall and Quianna Wasler, talk her through ups and downs and share tips for keeping a household budget and improving her credit score. Daniels set these goals with the aim of getting a mortgage next year when the Open Hand crew expects to finish remodeling a house for her on Rural Street in East Liberty.

“They make you want to do better and get what you want. I’ve got to show these people that I can do this,” said Daniels, 42, a single mother of three who rents a home from Open Hand since leaving East Liberty Gardens. She cannot wait to say, “This is my house.”

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Why Do You Support Open Hand Ministries

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This summer has certainly been an exciting one. We finished up our latest renovation project and welcomed our 12th homeowner into her home. We matched our third cohort of Circle Leaders and Allies into Matched Circles. It has been busy, and full of reflection. We, as a staff, have been thinking a lot about how blessed we are to have the support of so many incredible people. For this month’s blog- we reached out to a variety of constituents to ask them, “Why do you support Open Hand Ministries?”

Kristy S., OHM Board Member:

“I support Open Hand Ministries for many reasons, but one of the most important reasons is because of the opportunities and empowerment that Open Hand provides to individuals in my community who are equally if not more deserving of, but who have frequently not received, the blessings and opportunities that I’ve received in my life. I also love Open Hand’s focus on bringing people together and uniting them with a common purpose – demonstrating with every nail, piece of drywall, gathering and kind word that we all belong to God and that we all belong together.”

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Remembering our Foundation: Reflections from a Construction Manager

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A few hours into July’s “First Saturday” workday, I saw something that I had not seen in a very, very long time:
The basement floor. Beneath a swarm of volunteers, and a bustle of sweeping, carrying, moving, and grunting, the concrete floor of the basement re-emerged. We could walk from the steps to the door without zig-zagging like a running back, or tip-toeing like a ballerina. Some of the obstructions we were moving would be used elsewhere in the house: trim for the front porch, lumber for the back landing, grout for the tile. Others would be moving on to the early stages of our next project: the heavy duty locking steel box that takes 3 people to move, even when emptied of our pry-bars and demolition tools. I found myself studying the floor like a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, and remembering things I didn’t realize I had forgotten. I may have joined OHM’s staff just recently in May, but my memories as a volunteer stretch to the early stages of this project. The concrete is a speckled blend of new and old. The old is, well, old. The new spots are markers in the story of our progress, and the house’s transformation.

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Meet Tim- OHM’s Construction Coordinator

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On May 1st, Michael and the OHM Staff welcomed Tim Raufer as the organization’s full time Construction Coordinator. After 6 weeks on the job, Liberty got the chance to sit down and Tim and found out a little bit more of what brought him to OHM.

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OHM awarded $1,000 from Graduate Class at Pitt

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This spring, Open Hand was the proud recipient of a $1,000 grant through the Student Philanthropy Project at the University of Pittsburgh. In the Philanthropy Forum course, 10 graduate students training for non-profit careers got hands-on experience forming Award Review Boards (ARBs) and going through the process of awarding grant funds. (https://www.philanthropy.gspia.pitt.edu/Teaching) Through research and existing connections, they selected non-profits in the community and invited the organizations to apply for the grants focused on capacity building. Sarah Spiegel, a class participant and development officer at the Children’s Museum, knew about Open Hand through her involvement with partner church Shadyside Presbyterian and suggested it to her group. The group’s vision was to fund an organization that embodied innovation, social justice, and inclusivity, and she knew OHM would be a perfect fit. Because she already had a connection, Sarah hung back at first, but everyone responded so well when Michael presented OHM’s mission to the class that it was an easy sell.

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