The Pittsburgh Penguins had a beautiful float in the Saturday morning, Juneteenth Parade, upon which young people rode in celebration. The Pens’ Delvina Morrow was present on the float that accompanied city-goers in a march from the Hill's, Freedom Corner, to Point State Park in celebration of Juneteenth, a national holiday marking the end of slavery in America. The observance commemorates - June 19, 1865 - when the Union army arrived in Galveston, Texas, to free the slaves in the last state where they were permitted to be held. The Grand Jubilee Juneteenth Parade wound through the Hill and Downtown where musicians performed. Among the marchers were Masons, academic groups, horse-drawn carriages and elected officials.
In another part of town, Duquesne Light Company, one of the Lower Hill First Source Center’s sponsors, held a Juneteenth Celebration at its headquarters and Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis served as the keynote speaker. The joyful event was a barbecue with Italian icees, a deejay, line dancing, poetry and all around good fun. Dr. Ellis provided an historical lesson on what Juneteenth meant in both the origins and future of America, as we move toward “a more perfect union.” Juneteenth celebrations have always, historically, been filled with moments of reflection and one’s purpose in life.
On June 14, 2022, District Six City Councilman, Daniel Lavelle, partnered with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to offer a Hill District celebration of the many activities happening in the Historic Hill District, particularly around development. With a delicious menu and a DJ Blakkstreet aka Adam Lewis on hand, the URA set about informing the community of the many opportunities available for residents through the URA (from rehabbed, afforded houses via the PHRC to façade improvement grants for homeowners to the small contractors’ line of credit program, to the Avenues of Hope, upon which developments such as Catapult’s Galleries on Centre was highlighted, as well as upcoming developments such as Big Tom’s, the New Granada Apartments and Amani Christian Academy apartments), many of which were relatively unknown to residents. Things are happening in the Historic Hill District! Tanika Harris served as host while Greg Flisram and other staff members took the stage to educate the interested audience. The program began with honoring Hill resident birthdays and Charlet Holley became the “birthday girl” at 70. A true family affair, other elder Hill residents in attendance were Marlene Ellis at 85 and her friend, who was 91 years of age and happy to be in attendance at the festive and beautiful meeting. The audience was graced by a singer leading us through James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Ev’ry Voice,” popularly known as the Black National Anthem. The entire audience rose to their feet and belted out the verses in harmony and with dignity, which easily sums up the Historic Hill Community Mixer!
Kevin Acklin has been named President of Business Operations for Lower Hill Redevelopment Partner, Pittsburgh Penguins. Acklin, 46, is heading into his fifth season with the team, and first in his newly appointed role. As President of Business Operations, he will report to Fenway Sports Group and manage the day-to-day operations of the business, including strategic planning, corporate partnerships, marketing and community outreach. Acklin will also continue to spearhead the development of the Lower Hill District and former Civic Arena site.
After nearly 16 years as President and CEO, David Morehouse announced his retirement in May.
Brian Burke will continue in his role as President of Hockey Operations reporting directly to Fenway Sports Group. Acklin has spent the past two seasons as the team's Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, and originally joined the organization in 2018 as Senior Vice President and General Counsel, providing strategic advice to the senior executive team and serving as point person on the redevelopment efforts on the former Civic Arena site.
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It’s almost hard to believe but the First Source Center just passed its One Year Anniversary! We held a Grand Opening with members of the Historic Hill District community, elected officials, business owners and operators and a joyous Lower Hill Team! Despite opening during the Coronavirus pandemic, we have some momentum and some solid accomplishments to date!
First, we have witnessed success in the training programs we support, from the Builder’s Guild’s “Introduction to the Construction Trades” to the A. Philip Randolph Institute’s “Breaking the Chains of Poverty” Program to CCAC’s Commercial Driver’s License Program to our newest addition, CARP – the Carpenter’s Apprenticeship Readiness Program. With each new cohort, we are educating, inspiring and encouraging individuals to give themselves another chance to do something different. Many of these programs are great because they accept formerly incarcerated individuals, many of which had been unfairly targeted by biased drug laws. Convictions for non-violent drug offences make up a significant portion of those incarcerated in the United States. We are working to reverse the trend with a career sustaining job through the First Source Center. The Center was initially set up by Pittsburgh Penguins’ Tracey McCants-Lewis before she stepped away from setting up day-to-day operations.
PJ Dick held contracting workshops and one-on-one meetings with prospective contractors at the First Source Center and we made construction drawings available for anyone to view. We have partnerships with PA Career Link, who helps individuals navigate their career paths, UPMC, a major partner in the healthcare field, New Century Careers, for those interested in manufacturing, the BankWork$ program, which has been churning out graduates who want a job in banking and, of course, there are construction opportunities, as well as immediate hires with cleaning companies, catering companies and our new, upcoming neighbor, Salem’s Market and Grille, the owners of our new grocery store and eatery. The Cameron Group, run by Kevin and Francine Cameron, are our First Source Center operators and provide us with our concierge, who is on hand to help callers and visitors navigate their way to greater opportunities and life-changing experiences. We do not promote getting jobs, we promote careers!
Our most successful operation to date, which gave us the energy we needed in our near post-Covid world, was our first Job Fair and Open House, which occurred on March 30, under the leadership of our Director of Community, Arts and Culture, Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis and with the help of The Cameron Group. Dr. Ellis, who came to the First Source Center just before the grand opening, felt strongly that we needed to come together on a singular date instead of having employers waiting in vain on various days of the week. With a full-throttle effort, which included significant advertising in The Soul Pitt Magazine, Brotha Ash Productions Magazine, radio ads on WAMO and more, the First Source Center surpassed its goals and ended with 200 registrants, multiple signups for trainings, jobs, opportunities and the phone kept ringing off the hook since that day. The WAMO ads were particularly successful and we believe it’s because they were written by our playwright-in-residence, Dr. Ellis. There were individuals who said they heard the ad and called in to the First Source Center, immediately. That’s impact!
We will keep pushing to exceed our goals in the future, so be on the look out for our new Job Fair and other opportunities at the First Source Center! Our concierge is waiting for you!