Local leaders share how they use kindness in their communities

PITTSBURGH — As 11 Cares continues to celebrate kindness, we took a look at some of the leaders who are making a difference in their community by sharing goodness and kindness.

These leaders are trying to tackle everything from gun violence to poverty.

Janet Hellner-Burris is the co-pastor at the Christian Church of Wilkinsburg. Her mission is to imprint kindness on others.

Children in the church have worked on multiple projects, including hand-drawn peace banners and a community garden.

“I would ask them to put their hand on their heart and I would say, ‘Think of someone who has or a community that has been impacted by gun violence,’” Hellner-Burris said. “You could have heard a pin drop. Most of our kids know someone personally taken by gun violence.”

The church has sponsored a gun buyback program and has been working to improve community relations with police.

During the pandemic, they made sure underserved communities had access to vaccines. The church also houses a “new to you” thrift store.

Across town, similar good works are happening at the Center of Life in Hazelwood, where young people make music.

Tim Smith said the kids are employed with KRUNK, a yearlong music production program that offers free concerts in the neighborhoods.

They build up the neighborhood, offering music and academic programs.

“Our mission is to provide families in the community with life skills and education training and resources for them to be strong, so they can make their community strong,” Smith said.

Center of Life also wants to make sure the people are not being left behind, and can still afford to live in their homes.

“We believe making a community strong is an inside job,” Smith said. “The people who kept the lights on in the community.”

Read more about Kindness Week and how you can participate here.

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