In 1995, when the Open Door Community Center wanted to develop an after-school program, Sherry "took the job when it wasn't a job" and developed a whole year of activities, community service projects, crafts and writings about children's books for first, second and third graders. This led to the "After School Special," a community of 30 children "who learned a great deal about how to care for each other, resolve conflict, and love learning." In the summers she planned and led the Open Door, a writing program for 10 fourth, fifth and sixth graders. "She used her artistic gifts and enthusiasm for writing and literature to motivate children to want to write. The children worked in groups to brainstorm, develop story elements, draft, edit and tell their stories. Sherry was proud of their work."
A serious young student of ballet, Elizabeth's roles on behalf of CPAC have ranged from choreographer to wardrobe mistress, backstage manager, to costume storage custodian, to inspired teacher of young ballet students. "To list her accomplishments would take pages," wrote her nominator. But to anyone who has run a fledgling non-profit organization whose very existence depends upon giving individuals, "Elizabeth's contributions are priceless." She stood out as a novice teacher, assisting the teachers in children's classes and teaching herself a beginning ballet class for adults with great success. Elizabeth is a student at the Langley High School Teacher Training Magnet Program.
Maileah took a leadership role in creating the West End Wall of Pride-a large mural painted by young people, with the advice of Pittsburgh artist Robert Qualters, on a blank wall in the West End. The mural has become a point of pride in the neighborhood, and depicts the area's historic past as well as presents a multicultural vision of the future, involving African- American, Indian and Asian traditions. Maileah's own Hmong background is part of the mural, and she established a productive relationship with the other young artists. She persuaded her reluctant younger brother to take part, and was the public spokesperson for the project. She also has assisted her mother in presenting Hmong art and culture to various groups. She is the first of her family of nine to attend college: for the last two years Carlow College, and this semester she is starting at the University of Pittsburgh.
In the early spring of this year, Diona Jones decided it was time to make her neighborhood, Franklin Avenue in Wilkinsburg-an environmentally better place to live. She invited the parents of all school-age children to a pot-luck dinner, and over dinner she outlined her plan: to organize the children into "community youth clean-up crews" to sweep, pick up litter, and mow and weed the laws of elderly residents. She asked for parents to encourage their children's involvement, and to donate trash bags. Now, every Saturday, Diona and six to eight children make Franklin Avenue a better place to live. Diona's community efforts began with the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Program, where she became part of that organization's AmeriCorps program. She continues to devote herself to furthering lifelong learning programs, and teaches both youth and adults some of the skills needed to improve their lives, their homes and their communities.