North Hills Community Outreach’s space in Avalon a great asset

Friday, August 2, 2019 | 10:26 AM


A Hampton-based interfaith organization is helping more people after moving to a new location at one of its three primary sites.

The North Boroughs office of the North Hills Community Outreach has been at the Greenstone United Methodist Church in Avalon since May.

The office offers a food pantry, housing, transportation and utility assistance, individual case management, employment services, legal resources, education assistance, free income-tax preparation and programs providing practical support for seniors. There are no fees for services.

Outreach Executive Director Sharon Wolf said the move is working out beautifully.

“Our new offices and food pantry are totally accessible, located on the first floor, street level, on a main street on a bus line,” Wolf said. “NHCO has been operating for many years in its previous space (at Allegheny General Hospital Suburban).

“As we grew, it became necessary to have our food pantry and offices in three different spaces on two floors in a very large building. When Pastor David Ewing of Greenstone (United) Methodist Church, a volunteer in our food pantry, approached us about available space in his church, we found the new space to be more efficient for our staff and volunteers.”

Ewing said he quickly became aware of the accessibility and space limitations at the former site.

“I met with a NHCO associate to dream about NHCO clients engaging a larger, more hospitable space as they looked for assistance in obtaining basic needs,” Ewing said. “Greenstone UMC is very pleased to be partnered with a high-quality organization like North Hills Community Outreach. We will be looking at ways to continue enhancing ministry to the people of the North Boroughs community.”

Volunteer Althea Worthy said she has seen an increase in clients visiting the office for utility assistance, as well as an increase in in-kind and monetary donations.

“This was a wonderful move,” Worthy said.

Worthy said the space has good vibes.

“(It) is professional, cheerful, bright and welcoming,” Worthy said. “The location is accessible, which is so important to our clients and the fact that we are very close to a bus stop helps so many.”

Wolf said in the first month in the new space, 25 new families signed up to use the food pantry. She said there also has been an increase of community members coming in for other services, or to find out how they can support the outreach’s work in the community.

Founded in 1987 with one food pantry in Hampton, the outreach has grown to six sites in Hampton, Avalon, Millvale, O’Hara, McKees Rocks and Bellevue. Hampton, Avalon and Millvale have food pantries.

Wolf said in the 2018-19 fiscal year, 10,628 people were served, including approximately 3,665 low-income families.

She said after flooding in several communities, there was an increase in the number of people requiring assistance.

Ewing said he likes working with Wolf, who has headed the outreach for five years.

“She has a heart devoted to leading the organization that provides valuable help to others,” Ewing said.

To learn more about the outreach, visit nhco.org or call 412-487-6316.