South Hills residents must love a good barbecue.

In the 30 years since the founding of the Rotary Club of Upper St. Clair-Bethel Park, the organization’s annual chicken barbecue has raised more than $700,000.

Tracy Walnoha and Brian Schill

Tracy Walnoha of Watchful Shepherd USA and Rotarian Brian Schill

“It takes the entire club to mobilize support for the event,” said Dennis Gilfoyle, 2018-19 club president.

Gilfoyle acknowledged members Jessica Docherty for chairing the barbecue last year and Sally Morrison for leading the efforts toward the next event, scheduled for Sept. 21 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Upper St. Clair.

The 2018 event raised $48,000, all of it earmarked for nonprofit organizations, and representatives of more than two dozen of the groups gathered with club members recently at Bella Sera in Cecil Township for a celebratory night of giving. Member Susan Hicks organized the proceedings, and Scott Churchill coordinated the club’s philanthropy effort.

Grant recipients include:

  • Adopt a Family South Hills, based in Bethel Park, provides gifts and gift cards to families in need during the holidays. The Rotary grant will support three families of five members each.;
  • Bethel Park Historical Society owns and continues to renovate the former Bethel High School, built in 1905. Last year, the Rotary club assisted with kitchen renovations, and this year’s grant will go toward fixing up a break room.;
  • Bethel Park Public Library continues efforts to create large meeting spaces, and the Rotary money goes toward the purchase of two ceiling-mounted projectors and two 10-foot screens for use in public meetings and presentations.;
  • Bethel Park Police Department’s Traffic Division received a Rotary grant in 2018 for three traffic monitors with data-reporting capabilities. This year’s support is for software subscriptions for the equipment.;
  • Bethel Park Volunteer Fire Company has been responding to an increasing number of flood-related emergencies, most notably last June 20. Rotary funding will provide for 32 personal flotation devices and helmets for firefighters, plus rescue devices for vehicles.;
  • Bethel-St. Clair Meals on Wheels, which strives to ensure older and disabled residents eat nutritiously, has received a grant to subsidize four clients who do not pay the $6-a-day donation and eight who pay reduced rate.;
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  • Boy Scout Troop 366, based at Westminster Presbyterian Church, is led by Colleen Pikras, one of three women who are Scoutmasters in the Pittsburgh area. Scouts from the troop help at each year’s barbecue, and in turn the Rotary club is providing support for new tents, supplies and the funding for some of the troop members to attend leadership camp;
  • The Early Learning Institute provides intervention services for children in Allegheny and Washington counties, serving more than 1,500 people last year. The Rotary grant goes toward therapeutic devices for children who have difficulty eating and/or speaking.;
  • Familylinks serves more than 11,000 people with services related to behavioral health, mental health and other issues. The Rotary is assisting with addiction-prevention presentations and associated costs such as audio-visual rental, printed materials and promotional giveaways.;
  • George Washington Elementary School in Bethel Park is establishing a Friendship Corner, an area where students can socialize, play games and work on problem-solving skills during recess. The Rotary grant for a picnic table and bench.;
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  • Global Links is a medical surplus recovery organization that directs materials that otherwise would end up in landfills to health-care facilities in poor communities. The organization is partnering with South Hills Interfaith Movement to set up drop-off points for appropriate supplies, with the effort supported by the Rotary.,
  • Hair Peace Charities – founded by Pittsburgh radio personality Bonny Diver, who served as Night of Giving emcee – helps female cancer patients purchase wigs in the aftermath of hair loss caused by chemotherapy treatment. The Rotary grant will furnish six wigs.,
  • Hello Neighbor has the mission of improving the lives of recently resettled immigrants families by matching them with Pittsburgh mentors for guide and support. The Rotary club provides financial support for Hello Neighbor-organized family events.,
  • Horses With Hope offers equine therapy to children and adults with special needs and mental disorders. Two saddles and mouthpieces to fit two of the three horses purchased recently will be Rotary-financed.,
  • Military Connections, based in Pittsburgh for 16 years, ships care packages to troops serving overseas. The Rotary club is providing money for 30 packages of essential supplies.,
  • Nyadire Connection offers a hospital, primary and secondary schools, an orphanage and other services in the African nation of Zimbabwe. The Rotary grant helps pay for 45 students at the Home of Hope Orphanage.,
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  • Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team, started by friends Brad Childs and Jonathan Plesset in 2006, now is able to transport thousands of animals each year free of charge all over the eastern part of the United States and even internationally.,
  • Prevention Point Pittsburgh is a nonprofit organization, founded in 1995, dedicated to providing health empowerment services to people who use drugs.,
  • South Hills Interfaith Movement provides support for area residents in need, with 600 families and 1,700 individuals served last year. The Rotary grant is for the purchase of beans and rice for SHIM’s three food pantries, in Bethel Park, Baldwin Borough and Whitehall.,
  • Shop@USC, “Show How Opportunity Pays,” is an Upper St. Clair High School program through which special-needs students design and manufacture products while learning about the facets of running a business. Money from the Rotary club is for a digital press.,
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  • Southwinds Inc. provides residential support for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The Rotary grant goes toward purchase of a Raizer lift device, which allows a single staff member to assist a resident in getting back to a standing position.,
  • Special Olympics Pennsylvania is receiving money to continue to provide year-round sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.,
  • Upper St. Clair Band Parents Association will receive financial support for the outfitting of a new band equipment trailer.,
  • Upper St. Clair Rowing Association, a self-funded crew team for students, has been awarded a grant to assist in purchase of a new equipment trailer on which the Rotary International logo will be emblazoned.,
  • Watchful Shepherd USA, founded by the late Joe Femiani of Peters Township, will receive money to cover the annual monitoring costs of three devices that children at risk can activate if needed.,
  • Western Pennsylvania Police Benevolent Foundation raises money for injured officers and the families of fallen officers, and provides for part-time officers who are not issued ballistic armor. The Rotary club is supporting the foundation’s efforts toward establishing a Washington County First Responders Memorial.,
  • Yahve-Jire Children’s Foundation, Hebrew for “God provides,” serves children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. The Rotary funding is for six benches for two classrooms and storage lockers for a school.,
  • YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh’s Camp Aim, marking its 50th anniversary this year, is six-week day camp that benefits children with physical, mental and/or emotional special needs. The Rotary grant is to provide transportation for camping students.

Rotary Club of Upper St. Clair-Bethel Park (Breakfast) meets at 7 a.m. Tuesdays at the Porch at Siena in Upper St. Clair. For more information, visit

Night of Giving group

Harry Funk/The Almanac

The Rotary Club of Upper St. Clair-Bethel Park raised more than $48,000 during its annual fundraising event.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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