Paula McWilliams of the Nonprofit Heritage Community Initiatives, and Ken Zeff, owner of the Crazy Mocha chain, stands in the old CUDA Building in Braddock. (Nate Guidry/Post-Gazette)
By Joyce Gannon / Pittsburgh Post Gazette
The blighted town of Braddock is poised for a jolt of caffeine from a brand-name coffeehouse that could open this fall if financing comes through.
Crazy Mocha plans to develop a cafe and other food operations in the long-vacant Cuda Building along the borough’s main drag, Braddock Avenue.
The Friendship-based chain of 32 stores is partnering on the project with Heritage Community Initiatives, a nonprofit that owns the building and that provides transportation and other services to low-income residents of Braddock and surrounding areas.
Besides a storefront cafe serving coffee, espresso, tea and light food, Crazy Mocha wants to use part of the first floor to set up an expanded kitchen where employees would prepare sandwiches and items for its other stores. The company also may launch a popcorn venture that would deliver to other locations and cater events, said Ken Zeff, Crazy Mocha’s owner.
Eventually, the business could provide jobs for about 20 people, he said.
The Cuda Building was last occupied about 20 years ago by an Italian market.
In the decades when Braddock bustled with shopping activity generated by steelworkers and their families, the site housed a Neisner’s five-and-dime store and a tea room.
But like other places in the Mon Valley, the borough hasn’t prospered since a dramatic downsizing of the steel industry began in the 1970s. Its population has shrunk to about 2,000, and lots of vacant properties line its business corridor.
The town suffered another major blow when UPMC closed its Braddock hospital in 2010.
Since 1988, Braddock has been a state-designated financially distressed community.
With an estimated cost of $474,000 to rehabilitate the Cuda Building, Mr. Zeff and Paula McWilliams, president and chief executive of Heritage, acknowledged the project is risky and ambitious.
But both said their organizations have a strong mission to invest in community revitalization.
Heritage, based a few doors from the Cuda Building, provides low-cost transportation, preschool and after-school programs, and volunteer initiatives for Braddock and 40 other communities.
Heritage Community Initiatives recognized as one of Pittsburgh's 2016 Youth Advocacy Organizations Notice of Pittsburgh's Black Honors PRESS CONFERENCE, Feb. 1st, 1pm at Heinz History Center (Strip District)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
From: William Marshall, CEO & Founder, Stop the Violence-Pittsburgh (724-205-9376)
We are please to inform You that on Monday Feb. 1st, Stop the Violence-Pittsburgh, in partnership with the Heinz History Center, will host a Press Conference at 1pm to outline programming set for 2016, and specifically the 2016 Black Honors Symposium & Gala to be held during Black History Month. On Monday Feb. 1st, Mayor Bill Peduto will issue an event Proclamation and State Rep. Ed Gainey and State Rep Jake Wheatley will issue Citations for Pittsburgh's 2016 Youth Advocacy Organizations*.
Pittsburgh's Black Honor Gala is one of the many events that will be held in conjunction with the City's Bicentennial Programming. This Symposium is one of the marquee events which recognizes African American achievement within the City and Allegheny County since 1755 to present (see attached Endorsement Letters).
PITTSBURGH'S BLACK HONORS SYMPOSIUM & GALA
On Thursday Feb. 25th, 2016, Pittsburgh's Black Honors Event will be held at Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., starting at 7pm, bringing attention to the many contributions made by Pittsburgh's African American community since 1755 to the present in the areas of Education (Helen S. Faison, John Peck, Charles Avery and others), Religion (Rev. Lewis Woodson, Rev. Henry Highland Garnet and others), Sports (Josh Gibson , Maurice Lucas and others) , Politics (Lemuel Googins, K. LeRoy Irvis and others), Economics (Cumberland Willis Posey Sr., John Vashon and others) and Entertainment (Phyllis Hyman, Errol Garner, August Wilson and others).
Presenters at this Gala will be: Professor Laurence Glasco (Univ. of Pitt), Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Jackson (AME Church), Dr. Nelson Harrison (Pgh Jazz Network), Music Historian Colter Harper (Duq. Univ.), Dr. Ralph Proctor (CCAC), Doris Carson Williams (AACCWP), Heinz History Director Samuel W. Black, African-American Historian John L. Ford, Reporter Andrew Stockey (WTAE), Rev. J.E. Gamble, Reporter Bill O'Neal (New Pittsburgh Courier), Dr. James Johnson (AAMI). Reporter Lynne Hayes Freeland (KDKA), Homer S. Brown Association, Mayor Bill Peduto, Dr. Regina Holley (Pgh School Board President), State Rep. Ed. Gainey, State Rep. Brandon Flood of Pa. Black Leg. Caucus, State Rep. Jake Wheatley, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Shawn Hicks (AACCWP).
Pittsburgh's 2016 Legacy Leaders and Honorees include: Alma Speed Fox, retired-Judge J. Warren Watson, Mark Brentley, Rodger Humphreys, Rev. Victor J. Grigsby, Prof. Ralph Proctor, Valerie McDonalds-Roberts and Bishop Loran Mann.
Entertainers for the Event include: Afro American Music Institute's Boys Choir, Travis Malloy, Jordan Welch & Yahweh RYSE, Shailen Abrams & Soul Raydio, AAMI Jazz Group, Teresa Hawthorne and Others.
Sponsors of the Event include: POISE Foundation, University of Pittsburgh, CRICKET Wireless-Smithfield, Rice Enterprises, LLC and McDonalds, RIVERS Casino, Pittsburgh Class Center, CMOA-Teenie Harris Collection and Pgh PIRATES.
To become a sponsor or supporter of the event, or for more info: Bmarshallproductions@yahoo.com.
For Media Attendance Please Contact: Ned Schano of Heinz History Center (412) 454-6000
Afro American Music Institute Gwen's Girls 1Hood Media Academy
7131 Hamilton Ave., 711 W. Commons St., 607 E. Ohio St.,
Pittsburgh, Pa 15208 Pgh., Pa. 15212 Pgh., Pa. 15212
Hip Hop On Lock Heritage Community Initiatives Yahweh RYSE
124 S. Highland Ave., 820 Braddock Ave., Box 634
Pgh., Pa. 15206 Braddock, Pa. 15104 Monroeville, Pa. 15146
Strong Women, Strong Girls MAD DADS The Center that C.A.R.E.S.
1501 Centre Ave., 1342 Traymore Ave., 2701 Centre Ave.,
Pgh., Pa. 15219 Wilkinsburg, Pa. 15221 Pgh., Pa. 15219
Best of the Batch Foundation Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh
Clubhouse Corner Black Male Leadership Inst.,
2000 West Street 610 Wood Street
Munhall, PA 15120 Pgh., Pa. 15222
Dr. Carter G. Woodson Academy
The Kingsley Association
Pgh., Pa. 15208
By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Heritage Community Transportation, a van service that has helped thousands of mostly lower-income residents in the Mon Valley get to work, will begin connecting to new destinations and charging fees of 10 cents or 25 cents.
Starting today, the shuttle will stop at the North Versailles Wal-Mart and the Miracle Mile shopping center in Monroeville and ask most users for a quarter or dime for each ride.
The first-ever fare schedule is a requirement under Act 89, the transportation funding plan approved in 2013 that rescued the service after Congress eliminated the program that funded it, said Paula McWilliams, president and CEO of Heritage Community Initiatives.
While Heritage had to come into compliance under the measure, Ms. McWilliams said her team was “very cognizant of the folks that we serve, who are working very hard to get to work.”
“We needed to be sure we were instituting a fair fare,” she said.
Rides will cost 25 cents for people age 12 and older and 10 cents for children ages 6 to 11 and for people with disabilities. Children 5 and younger and adults 65 and older can ride free. Annual passes are available.
Instead of one long route, the system will eliminate a few lesser-used stops and break it up into three more efficient ones that will meet at the North Versailles Wal-Mart, Ms. McWilliams said. The service also will include more connections to the Port Authority system.
Chris Sandvig, regional policy director for the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, said it’s difficult to say whether the service will lose ridership by imposing a fee.
“If you’re the working poor, every little penny counts,” he said. But there are few other options. “Historically, Heritage has been quite literally a system of last resort” for low-income residents of the Mon Valley, he said.
The system has more than 3,000 registered riders and has provided more than 820,000 rides since 2001. A Heritage analysis conducted this summer revealed that 63 percent of surveyed riders have an annual household income of less than $10,000. More than 30 percent use the system to get to work, and 81 percent said they used it to connect with Port Authority routes.
The shuttle serves Braddock, East Pittsburgh, East McKeesport, Liberty, McKeesport, Monroeville, North Versailles, Pitcairn, Port Vue, Turtle Creek, Wall, White Oak and Wilmerding.
Molly Born: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @molly_born. More information: http://www.heritageserves.org.
See the full story here!
Paula McWilliams believes in running a nonprofit like a business. A former AT&T executive, she transitioned her experience in operations and financial governance to a role leading the company's corporate responsibility and philanthropy efforts. Two years ago, she returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh to serve as President & CEO of Heritage Community Initiatives, a Braddock-based nonprofit serving individuals and families facing socioeconomic challenges. The organization focuses on three primary areas: education, transportation and life-enhancing initiatives.
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Heritage Community Initiatives Prepares to Serve Hundreds of Children and Thousands of Meals this Summer
Heritage Community Initiatives Prepares to Serve Hundreds of Children and Thousands of Meals this Summer
NFL Player and Braddock Native Steven Breaston Steps Up to Lend Support
BRADDOCK, PA; June 23, 2014 – While the nearly 200 students enrolled at Heritage Community Initiatives education programs will continue to enjoy nutritious meals throughout the summer, the organization realized that hundreds of children in their hometown of Braddock needed access to lunch normally provided during the school year. In keeping with their commitment to service, Heritage offered to provide summer nutrition to young people participating in the Braddock Borough Summer Playground Program as well as to Braddock families who want to insure their children have a nutritious lunch. And thanks to Steven Breaston, NFL player and Braddock native, Heritage is able to make this program a reality.
"The Steven Breaston Foundation proudly supports the Heritage Summer Nutrition program and is thankful to be a part of it, because we all benefited from a similar program as kids.” says Steven Breaston, the foundation’s founder “ We find this is an essential way to give back to our community in areas other than athletics. As kids, it relieved our parents of some of the burden of worrying about whether we ate in the afternoons in the summer.” In conjunction with the Summer Food Service Program, this Heritage Summer Initiative will be provided at no cost to local families, Monday through Friday from June 23 – August 22.
In addition to Summer Nutrition, Heritage Community Initiatives is also proud to assist the Make A Splash swimming program of the Woodland Hills Aquatic Team. The fatal drowning rate of African American children ages 5 to 14 is almost three times that of the balance of the population in the same age range (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention); 73% of the population of Braddock Borough is African American with 21% in the 5-14 age group (Census Viewer). Heritage Community Transportation will facilitate transportation for children registered in the swimming program – including nearly 100 students at Heritage’s 4 Kids Early Learning Center and HOST (Heritage Out of School Time Program). The swimming program, whose goal is to teach young people to swim safely, runs from June 30 – July 31.
Heritage Community Initiatives
Heritage Community Initiatives is a nonprofit organization that has been serving individuals and families facing socioeconomic challenges for over thirty years. The organization’s program offerings – driven by need, pragmatism and impact – fall into three main areas of focus: Education, Transportation, and Life Enhancing Initiatives. Based in Braddock, Pennsylvania, Heritage Community Initiatives serves thousands of families in twenty communities within Allegheny County. www.heritageserves.org.
The Steven Breaston Foundation
The Steve Breaston Foundation is a 501©3 nonprofit organization that offers programs designed for at-risk and disadvantaged youth. Their emphasis on areas related to literacy, creativity, self-esteem and communication skills encourages youth to focus on reaching their goals despite potential barriers they may face. The Steve Breaston Foundation was created to make a difference, build a bridge and be a resource for youth across the country.
Heritage Community Initiatives is the proud recipient of a generous donation from Keith Coltura at Babb, Inc.
Mr. Coltura was the winner of the 2014 NCAA March Madness Tournament at Babb, Inc. and choose Heritage as the non-profit to split the proceeds with.
Babb, Inc. is a leading independent insurance broker, third party administrator, and consulting firm headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Heritage considers Babb, Inc. to be a valuable corporate partner whose charitable efforts over the years have included drives for school supplies and Thanksgiving baskets for Heritage education program families.
The success of Heritage programs relies heavily on generous support from exemplary corporate partners like Babb, Inc. and we thank them on behalf of our board, staff and the individuals and families that we serve.
Media Advisory: Heritage Community Initiatives Reschedules the Launch of Heritage Community Transportation
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Contact: Paula G. McWilliams, President & CEO
Phone: 412.351.0535 ext. 101
Heritage Community Initiatives Reschedules the Launch of Heritage Community Transportation (Inclement weather dictates event move to March 13th)
Heritage Community Initiatives is a community based nonprofit dedicated to serving individuals and families facing socio-economic challenges in twenty communities within Allegheny County. Our programs – driven by need, impact, and pragmatism – fall into three primary areas: Education, Transportation, and Life Enhancing Initiatives.
· Launch of Heritage Community Transportation’s newly enhanced services in the Mon Valley Region. NOTE: This service was formerly known as WorkLink.
· The service was made possible by the passage of Act 89 of 2013 – comprehensive statewide funding legislation
· Representatives of all eleven (11) communities served by Heritage Community Transportation, elected public officials – state and local, corporate partners, community leaders and members of the Board of Directors will be in attendance
WHEN: Thursday, March 13, 2014
10:30 am – 11:30 am
WHERE: Heritage Community Initiatives
820 Braddock Avenue
Braddock, Pennsylvania 15104
About Heritage Community Transportation:
Heritage Community Transportation is a fixed-route transportation feeder service designed to provide efficient, cost effective, and non-duplicative services to residents of the geographically isolated and low income communities of the Mon Valley Region of Southwestern Pennsylvania. For the last decade, more than 3,000 riders and families have depended on Heritage Community Transportation for over 820,000 rides connecting communities and residents to employment, retail centers and the greater transportation network while adding $132 Million in economic activity to the region. www.heritageserves.org
For the last decade thousands of families have depended on Heritage Community Initiatives' WorkLink. Now, people who struggle to meet basic needs but are committed to getting to work every day, face the real possibility they will no longer have our service available –unless the Transportation Bill is passed in Harrisburg.
We need your help - Please call Harrisburg today and tell your representatives to pass the Transportation Bill.
House Majority Leader Turzai: (412) 369-2230
House Minority Leader Dermody: (412) 274-4770
Governor Corbett: (717) 787-2500
To find your representative, please visit http://bit.ly/fmkUFC
Encourage your friends and family to make their voices heard - the time is now to make the call.
Heritage Community Initiatives is pleased and grateful to announce that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has committed to an extension of the Heritage WorkLink transit service. The Heritage WorkLink program has operated since 2001, and serves 3,000 families in some of the most economically challenged communities in Allegheny County.
WorkLink had been funded through July 6, 2013 by the Federal Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) program. Funding to continue WorkLink is included in Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1; however the legislation failed to clear the House of Representatives before summer recess. It is hoped that a legislative solution will be resolved when the House of Representatives reconvenes in the fall.
Heritage is committed to finding a sustainable funding solution to provide access to work and job related activities to the thousands of families who have depended on the WorkLink program for over a decade.
Riders are reminded that there is no service on July 4 due to the Independence Day holiday. Riders should contact WorkLink at 412.351.2200 or email@example.com with any questions.
About Heritage WorkLink: WorkLink connects the underserved population of Mon Valley communities to mainline Port Authority of Allegheny County bus services, places of employment, job training, childcare and other job related services. The program serves 3,000 Mon Valley residents per year and provides 13,000 rides each month. WorkLink has a $134 million impact on the Western Pennsylvania region. www.heritageserves.org/worklink