Wilkinsburg volunteers working to bring peace to community with $10K grant

WILKINSBURG, Pa. — On a sunny, hot and humid June day, a group of kids and community volunteers are hard at work.

“When we begin every morning, we talk about peace, we pray about peace. We put an intention in our heart for someone who has been shot or killed,” said pastor Janet Hellner-Burris with Christian Church of Wilkinsburg.

This group in Wilkinsburg is working to create peace, thanks to a $10,000 grant from “Everytown against Gun Violence.”

“What we are modeling them to do what you do when you are traumatized by violence get out there and do something positive. This is our something positive to beautify our community,” Hellner-Burris said.

It starts with something as small as creating a community garden and painting pavers to create colorful meeting spots of peace. While other crews clean out abandoned properties to clean up the blight, the kids of the community are painting a mural that will be displayed in the center of Wilkinsburg.

“As people drive by, people can think, ‘people care about Wilkinsburg, all of us care about Wilkinsburg,’ and so it’s a visible way to show that care,” Hellner-Burris said.

It’s an area hit hard by gun violence, but that’s why people of all ages are working to make that change and hope it inspires others to do the same in their neighborhoods.

“As a mother, I am very concerned and upset by the violence happening within our community as well as our nation as a whole and this just gives the youth and community the opportunity to come together and work towards something that can be part of the solution,” said community volunteer Michelle Simon.

The group plans to finish up its project over the next two days and hang that mural on Penn Avenue for drivers to see on Saturday.

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