Annual Pioneer Community Day set to flood city with volunteers


Photo by Mick Stinelli

Nigel Parms (left) and Caleb Draper (right) prepare food as volunteers for the Light of Life Rescue Mission ahead of Pioneer Community Day on Saturday.

Written By Mick Stinelli, Co-Arts & Entertainment Editor

Point Park organizations will gather on Saturday for the eighth annual Pioneer Community Day (PCD) to restore gardens and churches throughout Pittsburgh. The day of volunteering is headed by Matt Bauman, United Student Government (USG) parliamentarian.

“Last year was, I think, a very successful Pioneer Community Day,” Bauman said. He was a volunteer for last year’s PCD, though he only just joined USG this year. “We are working with some different groups this year than last year to kind of diversify how we give back.”

This year, PCD is partnering with organizations like the Oakcliffe Community Organization, Light of Life Rescue Mission, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and Giving Heart Church.

Kate Wadsworth, the public relations and aftercare manager at Light of Life, said that PCD volunteers will be helping the rescue mission prepare meals. Founded in 1952, Light of Life began as a soup kitchen, but has expanded its efforts to providing emergency shelter and helping homeless men and women with education and employment resources. They also hand out toiletry kits and bagged lunches.

“Volunteers have been a very important part of us being able to do all that we do,” Wadsworth said. “There’s a really great sense of doing something helpful that I think students and volunteers benefit from.”

Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership has been working with Point Park on PCD for several years. The organization is known for organizing events like the Market Square Farmers Market, Light Up Night and the Picklesburgh festival.

Leigh White, the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, said that last year’s PCD found students sweeping gravel and debris from the 10th street bypass, cleaning graffiti and scrubbing alleyways.

“Generally, volunteer work revolves around making sure downtown stays clean and beautiful,” White said in a phone interview.

Bauman said that 40 students were on site to volunteer out of the 80 signed up for PCD last year. He said that he is hoping to get 100 volunteer signatures by Friday, April 6.

“We live in this community of the downtown Pittsburgh area,” Bauman said. “It helps Point Park a lot, being in the city with everything that the city has to offer.”

He urged that being able to give back to the city and to charitable organizations that “do so much for so many people” would be great for Point Park students.

“You get the feeling of giving back, which is always a positive thing,” Bauman said, adding that it could also encourage students to do more volunteer work in the future.

The USG release for PCD says the day begins with a breakfast at 8 a.m. Students perform volunteer work from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Afterwards is a dinner with games and activities.

Bauman said work will be staggered throughout the morning and afternoon. From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. students will be assisting Light of Life. Giving Heart will have two separate shifts between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Work with the Downtown Pittsburgh Partnership will occur from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and students will work with Oakcliffe from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.