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. ( 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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Circles Milestone Celebration

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By: Liberty Ferda

Circles-Open Hand had reason to celebrate on Tuesday, March 15. The day marked 18 months in the program for the first cohort of partnered Allies and Leaders. That’s a year and a half of meeting every Tuesday, building relationships, working on goals like, for example, making a budget, getting out of debt, building savings, buying a home, or buying a car.

Each group’s commitment was honored with a trophy for the leader and a chance to share a few words of reflection. Meanwhile, folks at different stages of the program—including teens who were considering getting involved, leaders and allies from the second cohort, and the newest crop of leaders and allies-in-training, —listened over homemade eggplant Parmesan, salad, and pizza.

It was not a “graduation”, because all of the groups honored will continue participating in the program; either continuing to work on their goals or becoming allies for the incoming group of leaders.

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Q & A with Stuart D., an Ally

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By: Liberty Ferda welcome1-325x325

What’s your background, and how did you become an ally? I’m 24 years old and grew up in Blacksburg, Virginia. My family was middle-upper class, my father was a professor and my mother a volunteer EMT rescue. I have 3 siblings, and all of us are college educated. I attended one of the poverty simulations about a year and a half ago and signed up to participate in Circles after that.

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A Relational Pathway to Homeownership: An OHM family’s story

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By Liberty Ferda

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67074234_3f5034a999_oIt started when Annette* vented to her friend about money troubles. She felt she was barely making it, newly divorced with children, with a modest-paying job at an insurance company and not a clue about budgeting. Her friend, Melody, referred her to a money management course called Financial Peace University at Eastminster Church, one of OHM’s partner churches.

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Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes

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Written by: Liberty Ferda

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New research reveals that 1.5 million American households, including 3 million children, subsist on a mere $2 (or less) per person, per day. For many people who don’t live in poverty, understanding what it’s like is difficult. But what if you could experience what it’s like to live in poverty for a month in America, in just an hour?

Attend one of Open Hand Ministry’s Poverty Simulations.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Jordan Pollard

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P6070077 (1)Written by: Liberty Ferda

“I love the sledgehammer!” says 21-year-old Jordan Pollard, who worked on Open Hand Ministry’s property on Beatty Street on October 5. Early in its transformation process, the home is, as he describes it, “totally stripped, all boards and brick.” In six hours, he broke a sweat on every level—he cut 2x4s and fitted floorboard on the upper levels, mixed and laid concrete in the basement, among other tasks.

What motivates this busy college student to give his Saturday to volunteering?

It’s in his bones.

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