Originally published: Dec 20, 2021
Andrew Goldstein, Pittsburgh Post Gazettte

Taneicia Calloway found the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh’s family support center in East Hills about two months ago, but she’s already seeing the benefits of her discovery.

The center has aided the 31-year-old single mother of four with food, diapers and other necessities — and it might even help her get a job.

“Because of them, I actually went to a job fair yesterday,” Ms. Calloway said earlier this month. “I would have never heard about it if it wasn’t for the [center].”

The Urban League’s East Hills location — one of three family support centers in the Pittsburgh region — works to forward the organization’s mission of helping African Americans and other marginalized communities achieve economic self-reliance, parity and power and civil rights.

The organization informs people of opportunities and offers assistance year-round, but it is perhaps the most imperative during the holiday season when families face extra burdens, such as securing traditional meals and ensuring that children have gifts.

The family support center held a food distribution for Thanksgiving, and it will host a toy giveaway in partnership with the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program this month.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s annual Goodfellows campaign — funded entirely by reader donations — raises money that’s used to buy many of the toys that are distributed by the Marine Corps’ program.

Carlos T. Carter, who recently took over as the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh’s president and CEO, said seeing the organization provide some relief for those in need during the holiday season serves as a reminder of why he does what he does.

But for Mr. Carter, it’s about more than the joyful feeling of giving. It’s about giving parents a sense of dignity, a necessary component of the Urban League’s mission.

“I think every parent wants their children to have a better life than they did, and you say ‘I can do without, but I want my kids to have,’” Mr. Carter said. “For us and me, it warms my heart.”

The center gives parents the ability to do much more than ensure their children toys on Christmas morning, though.

Just like Ms. Calloway, the center helps connect people with job, education and training opportunities, as well as resume building and other important services. The center also has a child care component, but that has been temporarily shuttered due to COVID-19.

And many of those who take advantage of the resources provided by the Urban League want to return the favor, according to Mr. Carter.

“A lot of people who receive services are not just looking for a handout,” Mr. Carter said. “From my experience, a lot of people do want to help. People have pride.”

Arminthia Kim Smith started bringing her 2- and 3-year-old grandsons to the center about six months ago. She soon started volunteering for the organization and has become friends with people who work there.

“This is a beautiful place to be,” she said.

Readers can make a tax-deductible donation to the Goodfellows campaign by using the coupon that appears with this story and sending it to Post-Gazette Goodfellows, Box 590, Pittsburgh PA 15230, or donate online at post-gazette.com/goodfellows.