Pittsburgh chefs support women and children

Published Dec 4, 2013 at 6:38 am (Updated Nov 29, 2013 at 1:17 pm)

Our hearts go out to those in need all year long, but especially during Christmas and the holiday season. By providing a wholesome dinner, warm coats and hats or toys for children, we show support and concern, hoping to break the cycle and improve the lives of the homeless and needy. Putting a smile on someone’s face is always a great feeling.

Through an exchange of grace, caring organizations do what they can to build relationships to benefit others.

It’s hard to believe, but 15 years has passed since WOMEN of Southwestern PA, Inc. was founded, becoming an outstanding service organization. Not affiliated with a national program, from its beginning WOMEN has geared its fundraisers to support the countless local women and children who are brimming with potential but need help with essential benefits.

WOMEN began as the brainchild of Peters Township resident Carolyn Yurkovich. Hoping to fill her empty nest syndrome with worthwhile projects, she presented a few ideas to a small group of friends. Enthusiasm soared and Women Organized to Mentor, Empower and Network had its start.

Giving their all to this tremendous challenge, these amazing women put their combined efforts to work and planned its first event, opening its doors to the entire community. “Art in the Round” quickly became a success, featuring an exhibit and sale of exquisite creations by local artists, set in the historic Washington County Courthouse. In a festive atmosphere, for nine years “Art” led the social scene as friends and associates gathered to purchase outstanding artwork while supporting nonprofit agencies that applied for assistance through grant requests.

Feeling a need for change, Symphony of Food, A Chef’s Showcase Dinner was organized, exciting many away from January doldrums for a delightful evening out and about. Well-known local chefs prepared their signature dishes and the chef’s showcase became a sellout.

Through its efforts, WOMEN has returned $200,000 to the community, helping women and children through more than 100 organizations.

Starting the new year, on Jan. 24, the Best Chefs of Pittsburgh will join Symphony of Food at Bella Sera Event Venue. Chefs from Market District, II Burloni, LaTavola, Bistecca Steakhouse, Piccolina’s, Angelo’s and Country Confections will prepare their sought-after signature courses. Sally Wiggin, WTAE Channel 4 host of the News Chronicle and member of the news department, will be master of ceremonies.

Amazingly, the 2013 Symphony of Food distributed more than $48,000 to 37 charities. Through the generosity of local organizations and individuals, rewarding programs will continue to support women and children with programs such as the few mentioned here. St. Vincent de Paul Society’s Hear Fayette program was able to purchase an iPad to assist those with hearing loss or who are not able to speak. Serving the poor and homeless, Washington City Mission purchased new carpeting, furniture and educational tapes for kids. Zonta Club purchased jogging suits for rape victims. Try Again Homes provided duffle bags and hygiene items for kids suffering from abuse and neglect. Through counselors and teachers, Sisters of St. Joseph are able to educate young people on the tragedy of human trafficking. Hair Peace Charities provides wig options for women diagnosed with cancer.

Family Promise is funding a mentoring program to lead children and parents back to independent living. Special instructional materials are benefiting special needs kids in at-risk situations through The Early Learning Institute. Helping families with children affected by congenital heart defects, Jameson’s Army recently provided 26 families with Thanksgiving dinner. Serving low-income girls, Strong Women, Strong Girls will be able to assist more than 530 girls and train 160 mentors.

Members annually publish a request for grant recipients, reviewing the requests and granting awards in June. A grants-recipients dinner is held each November, gathering representatives from local nonprofits who offer details of their agencies and how their grant would be used. WOMEN members also make visits to local agencies to better understand their place in the community.

The Mission Statement of WOMEN of Southwestern PA, Inc. is to support each other by gathering socially, working on philanthropic projects and networking with the hope that friendships based on trust and mutual respect will develop. Through their praiseworthy efforts, these women teach valuable lessons about life, happiness and survival.

For tickets or sponsorship to Symphony of Food, call 724-514-7176 or visit www.womenofswpa.org.

comments powered by Disqus