Chance Encounter Inspires Program Benefiting Pittsburgh’s Homeless
By Adrienne Baldini, BikePGH volunteer contributor
Homelessness is an issue impacting many cities across the United States, including right here in Pittsburgh. A chance encounter with a homeless woman at a local restaurant inspired Bridgette Wright, BikePGH Administrative Assistant and Public Allies Fellow, to make a difference. The woman asked Bridgette for a few dollars so she could buy food for her daughter as well as a toothbrush for herself because she hadn’t had the opportunity to brush her teeth in over a month.
The woman’s lack of access to common toiletries inspired Bridgette to create the Public Allies Care Packs by Bike Program in an effort to support Pittsburgh’s homeless population. I caught up with Bridgette to learn more about this impactful program.
How was the Public Allies Care Packs by Bike Program created?
Once I thought of the idea and shared it with a few people, everyone was on board and wanted to help. We promoted it through blog posts, social media, and flyers, and before we knew it, people began donating the toiletries that would be included in the care packs we’d be handing out to the homeless. Thanks to the support of local organizations and individual donors, we were able to collect boxes filled with toiletries. About fifty people volunteered to help organize donated items, pack bags, and distribute care packs around the city.
What was in the care packs, and how were they distributed?
They included common toiletries like deodorant, tooth brushes, hand sanitizer, shampoo, and soap. With the help of Bike Pittsburgh, we delivered the care packs to different areas of the city on bicycles. Since our initial distribution in December, we have provided nearly 200 care packs to the local homeless. This was all possible thanks to the generous donors and the dedication of our volunteers. We even have enough donations for additional distributions in the next few weeks.
Why do you enjoy volunteering?
I’ve always had a passion for wanting to help people and make a difference – whether in a big or small way. The key behind Public Allies is serving others, and I feel that it’s an obligation to give back. Homelessness is a serious issue in our country and it brings me a lot of joy to help those in need in our local communities.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to volunteer, but is hesitant to get started?
I would say, don’t be afraid to jump in. People are people, especially those who need our help. It’s really rewarding to get out there and volunteer, because you’re personally touching someone’s life and making a positive difference.
This article was authored by Adrienne Baldini, a Bike Pittsburgh volunteer. Interested in writing for the BikePGH blog? Check out our call for creatives and email email@example.com.