When you hear about the Town Hall South Speaker Series, you probably think of the renowned writers, actors, politicians, journalists, scientists and more who speak at Upper St. Clair High School five times a year and engage our community in dialogue on key issues of our day.
But an equally important part of the Town Hall South mission is to provide outreach to the community through philanthropic gifts to a wide range of local organizations.
Since Town Hall South was organized as an outreach of Westminster Presbyterian Church in 1969, the series has donated nearly $650,000 to local organizations, with grants primarily focusing on children in need, Pittsburgh’s homeless population, and women fleeing from violence and seeking to rebuild their lives.
Recipients of grants resulting from Town Hall South’s 2019-20 season include Boys Hope Girls Hope of Pittsburgh Inc., Spencer Family YMCA/Camp AIM, Operation Safety Net, Washington City Mission and CASA for Kids Inc.
Grants have been used to fulfill needs that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the YMCA’s Camp AIM for special needs children, was offered on a virtual basis this year, and money from Town Hall South helped develop interactive programming featuring life skills, physical activities, music and art.
CASA for Kids Inc. is a nonprofit providing court-appointed special advocates for abused and neglected children in the Washington County juvenile court system. The Town Hall South grant helped to provide training to 17 new advocates, much of which was accomplished via Zoom, enabling CASA for Kids to assign more than 30 children to a new advocate who will speak up for the children’s best interests and give them a voice in court.
Another recipient was Washington City Mission, which used the grant to fund a childcare program for the mission’s 32-bed shelter for homeless women and their families.
Other uses of Town Hall South grants include purchases of blankets, sleeping bags, and tents for Pittsburgh’s homeless population, along with bus tickets to enable such individuals to access housing and recovery services; purchases of equipment to help children requiring therapy and early intervention to achieve their developmental goals; and subsidized counseling sessions for teens and families suffering from mental health issues.
Town Hall South’s gifts come directly from money raised through ticket sales, corporate sponsorships and donations. Although the 2020-21 season was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021-22 season is scheduled to begin Oct. 5 with legendary journalist and news anchor Dan Rather.
Other speakers are Silicon Valley innovator and visionary Kevin Surace, Nov. 9; global adventurer and host of Netflix’s “The Kindness Diaries,” Leon Logothetis, Dec. 7; former Time magazine editor and diplomat Richard Stengel, Feb. 1, 2022; and author and professor of animal science Dr. Temple Grandin, who will discuss her personal journey with autism on March 15, 2022.
Tickets for the coming season and more information about Town Hall South are available at www.townhallsouth.org.