Sarah Heinz House changed my life for the better in so many ways. I began as a member at the age of 9 and continued on until the age of 18. I had the opportunity to join numerous groups and experience so many opportunities that a city girl like me would never have gotten. I had my first job there at the age of 14 working at the desk and answering phones. I got to play on the traveling basketball team. I got to be a summer camp counselor. Most of all, I got to be me and learned that being me was ok. I was always made to feel like I was important and that I mattered.
The Sarah Heinz House provides such a wonderful and safe environment for children, and even adults. THe staff are professional and go above & beyond what is expected of them. The Sarah Heinz House changes lives and has inspired me in many ways.
At about 4 or 5 years of age, I would go to work with my dad at SHH and count down the days until I could be a member. Being a member of SHH was, by far, the most influential factor in my adolescent and teen years. I would say SHH was like a second home, but in reality, it was probably more like my first home. I saw so many members go from wallflowers to outgoing, well-rounded kids, myself being one of them. I have no idea what or whom I would be today if it weren't for my involvement in gymnastics and the entire SHH program. The friends I made at SHH were some of the best friends I have ever had and I still look back on my times with them with extreme fondness. Because of the staff and volunteers at SHH, I was able to understand the importance of having a team mentality while also being comfortable enough to stand out. I learned the impact one's character and integrity has on who they become later in life, which I know now, is an incredibly valuable lesson to learn at a young age. It's rare to have such a complete sense of belonging, especially as a child and a teenager, and I have nothing but gratitude for SHH.
From the early age of seven, I had the opportunity to be a member of Sarah Heinz House. I am who I am today because of the varied experiences I gained during my time as a member. Through my eleven career at Sarah Heinz House, I was able to grow as a student, leader, and person. SHH prides itself on developing the character of each and every member. My first volunteer experience was at the age of eight. Since I was a swim team member, I was able to volunteer my time to help other members learn how to swim. Volunteerism and philanthropy is still a huge part of my life due to my early foundation. During my high school years, I was selected to serve on the regional and national steering committees for the Keystone Conferences. This started my experiences with public speaking and honed my leadership skills. Due to my strong leadership abilities, I was able to serve as president in many organizations and also now lead an elementary school. Sarah Heinz House is a special place for young children. Of all the amazing and meaningful activities/clubs/etc that SHH has to offer, the most special part of Heinz is the people that make up the organization. The full-time and part-time staff members and volunteers give and given and give their time, money, and support to help each member realize his/her potential. The staff cares and loves each member unconditionally. As I said, I am who I am because of Sarah Heinz House, a place I considered my home for many years.
I attended SHH from the time I was 7 until I graduated high school I still count the friends I made at Heinz among my best friends, 13 years after leaving. The staff and volunteers had an incredibly positive impact on my life. I can honestly say I would not be the man I am today without Sarah Heinz House. I am now a volunteer at Heinz because I want to help in any way I can and be a positive impact in the lives of today's youth.
My four children attended Sarah Heinz House from the time they were able to join. Specifically, my oldest son, who is now in his 2nd year at a very prestigious university, has benefited from being a member at Sarah Heinz House. It was his second home where he felt comfortable being himself. In school, he was a very introverted person who was teased for being a "nerd". His social circle was small. He did not feel like he could "let his hair down" so to speak. At Heinz House, he was a totally different person. He used to say that he didn’t have to try to be cool at Heinz House, he could just be himself. It took him several years of being "just a member" to come out of his shell. But because he had to attend Heinz twice a week for membership, then also for all of his “extra” activities, he looked forward to being there almost every day of the week and making a name for himself in a very quiet way. He led by example. He led through encouragement from the staff. He led because it was his home away from home. The motto "Success is never final, Failure is never fatal, it's Courage that counts" made such an impression on him and has helped propel him to be successful in his life! This comfort allowed him to gain the confidence to step up in school socially. He started a Comic Book Club at his high school which had a premise of service...being a hero in everyday life. He participated in the musicals at Heinz House where he had the courage to be on stage to perform. He played on various sports teams and attended the summer resident camp and robotics camp. He enjoyed intense participation in the teen leadership programs, like the Keystone Club and Lead Team. Service learning was a powerful component of his experience, and volunteering became a high priority for him. His holistic experience developed and diversified him as a person. Heinz House is doing this again for my three other boys. We will not move from Pittsburgh because there are no other boys and girls clubs like Sarah Heinz House. Our family are "Heinzies" all the way! Over the past few years, Heinz House and its youth members have received recognition at the state, regional, and national levels, including Nick Foley, a friend of my sons, who earned the honor of 2012 National Youth of the Year through Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Nick and my sons are just a few of thousands who have benefitted from Sarah Heinz House.
Sarah Heinz House is not just a non-profit organization, or a Boys and Girls Club. It is a home, and with in a home is a family i have had there since i was 6 years old. From the start Heinz was always a place i could go and grow and be accepted for who i was. I was like a little seed put in a pot of dirt with many others who were there with me. From there we started to grow into young role models and strong independent individuals. Everyone grew at a different pace but that was never a problem because the other members, older members and staff were always there to help you. As we got older our leaves started to bloom and we were given opportunities kids cant even dream about. We were able to get a volunteer job whether it was for a gym class, a club program...but in our eyes, it didn't really matter because we just loved to be engaged and get involved with all the members. Soon we started to step out more on our own. We were always unique and different in our own ways, but hitting the teenage years really brought us to our peak. As a 14 year old I was able to get a job as a locker room attendant. Some can complain and cry that it was stupid. But in my eyes no job was stupid and i was thankful for the opportunity to even have a job at 14 and so were many of my other friends. But Heinz was not always about jobs and volunteering, it was about getting involved with activities and making new friends, and that is exactly what i did. At 6 years old i joined the gymnastics program, I was apart of gymnastics for 11 years and spent my childhood growing up with some amazing people. Some went there own way...but for others who have stayed we aren't just friends we are brothers and sisters to each other. I cannot explain to how much the Staff down Heinz truly means to me. In my life they were my gymnastics coach, gym teacher, swim instructor, but most of all my friend and someone i could talk to. Without them or Heinz, i really cant tell you where I'd be in life. I am so grateful that my parents dropped me off at Heinz those 12 years ago. It would have been very unfortunate to have lived my life only for myself and not spreading my horizons and being able to be there for someone and give them hope or a smile for the day at the club. You never truly know whats going on in someones life and thats why you can never just judge from what you see. Everyday when i went down Heinz I strived to be a role model and tried to be the best I could be. But most of all, it always made my day to be someone they looked up to, or was there when they needed help or someone to talk to, but most of all just to see a smile on there face.
When our children first brought home the application for Heinz House our initial thought was, "This is a big time commitment, but let's give it a try." Three years later, I don't know what we would do without this place!!! We are at Heinz House every single night of the week participating in activities such as swim team, robotics, gymnastics, swim lessons, and design factory. The staff is friendly, encouraging, and loving. They take a true interest in our children and our children love the activities and spending time with their peers outside of school. The summer camps are as awesome as the programs that are offered during the school year. If you want to find a facility where your child can try many different activities, this is it! The choices are abundant!
I am grateful, honored and blessed to be a part of one of the finest organizations I've ever known! There is no better place for kids. The purpose, goals and intentions of SHH are clearly defined and executed. The proof is in the members ~ period.
I would not be where I am today without Sarah Heinz House. It taught me skills that I will be able to use for many things in the future. It was the sole reason I wanted to work with children for a living. Since I left, I have been trying to give back as much I can!
Sarah Heinz House really changes the lives of kids and teens in the Pittsburgh community every single day, and I can say that because I know it changed my life. When I was a young boy I moved to Pittsburgh to be adopted after a tough childhood involving being abandoned by my parents, moving around with several different families, and overall leaving me not knowing what place I had to call home or who to call family. When I first stepped foot into Sarah Heinz House, I found both of those things. For the next 11 years and still to this day, I call Sarah Heinz House my second home, and every single member, volunteer, and staff member is one big family. The people there are incredible; they truly care about everything you do. The programs are amazing in that they set you up for a great future. There are all the fun programs that keep you interested and excited at all ages, but they also teach you so many things in teamwork, the importance of giving back, and teach you how to be a great leader. I know all of these things have had a huge impact on my life because I definitely would not be where I am today without Sarah Heinz House. I would recommend this place to anyone, and I know I will always be a part of this great organization.
Each year, Sarah Heinz House nominates a student to partipate in the Natiuonal Youth of the Year Program. We have consistently been recognized as the leader in space - resulting most recently on the National Youth of the Year (who followed on the heels of recent State and Regional winners). Each year, in connection that program, the Youth of the Year candiates visit with the Board, and share "what Sarah Heinz House" means to them. I was fortunate that my first ever board meeting included these brilliant presentations. As a result, as a Board Member, I am directl connected to how important SHH is to our memebers, and how much our members contribute and deeply care about SHH.
Sarah Heinz House was a haven for me as I grew up! I was there almost every day to participate in sports, swimming, etc, etc. Thanks to the staff and to the outstanding volunteers I learned many things there. Today SHH continues to be a haven for boys and girls in the Northside and surrounding areas. Its a magical place with experiences that you remember forever.
I have been in education for 15 years and the SHH 'gets it.' The are amazing in the development of programs that meet the needs of a very diverse group of kids.
The Sarah Heinze House has a long history of making a difference in the lives of the children of Pittsburgh especially in the Northiside. The motto--laugh,learn, lead--tells the importance of what is offered including an after school program and summer camp. For many needy kids, financially and socially, this is a second home; a place to learn from great teachers and mentors and in turn become leaders. The SHH has over 1000 memebers and serves an additional 2500 kids. The program reguires regular attendance which increases the child's committment. Over 40 % have been members for over 2 years with many remaining in "Club" through high school. Over 90% of those who remain with the program are admitted to college or a trade school. Last year, a student from the SHH, Nick Foley, was awarded the national Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Club of America. Supporting this organization helps many kids who need our help the most.
Once a year I attend the Hamburger and Steak Dinner sponsored by SSS. I am amazed at the childrens' behavior complete with a greeting and a wide smile; their engaging attitude always ready to show interest in you; the etiquette that the children demonstrate at the table ready to use the correct tableware and carry on an interesting conversation. I look forward every year to attend the dinner and "Catch Up" with the students to evaluate their growth (both physical! and maturity.)
Sarah Heinz House has become a national leader in after school care with outcome data to prove it! The joy of its members when they are at SHH is obvious and is the best measure of its success.
I've served as a volunteer for more than ten years and have seen this organization transform itself into a national model for all Boys and Girls Clubs and after-school programs in general. Within the past few years not only have youth-members received national recognition, but all of the top leadership staff have too. The parents of one of the youths served said it well: "Every dollar donated to Sarah Heinz House is carefully considered and spent well." The diversity of daily after-school programs and youth participants is unparalleled. More than 250 volunteers form the backbone of Sarah Heinz House, many with decades of experience volunteering there. I am very proud to be part of an organization where I take away far more than I could ever give. My one big regret is that I didn't know about Sarah Heinz House when my children were in school; had they been members while growing up, I know they would have had greater skills and confidence as they entered young adulthood.
I have been a Board Member and volunteer at Sarah Heinz House for the past four years. This boys and girls club has helped so many of our youth from grades K-12 which I have been able to personally witness. It provides so many opportunities with it's programs and group activities that many of these kids might not ever have experienced. I have been involved long enough to see many of these young kids transform into responsible young adults with endless opportunities ahead of them. Many of these kids have been recognized with various local, state and national awards that would not have been possible without the help and guidance of Sarah Heinz House and it's caring and dedicated staff. This is an organziation well worth investing in.