Mt. Lebanon Magazine – You would be hard-pressed to think of a time that has directly affected every single member of our local, national and global community more than the coronavirus has, and it is obvious that it will continue to do so for months, even years, to come. The world changed, almost overnight, and suddenly those things that define us—how we eat, socialize, have fun, work, worship, exercise, shop and interact with other humans—have been discarded and replaced by social distancing practices to protect the most vulnerable members of our society.
Yet kindness remains. So does ingenuity, gratitude and the will to survive. Here is a small sampling of stories about the unique ways some of our community members coped. This is Part 1 of a series of stories that will appear here on lebomag.com and in our June 2020 magazine.
Twice the impact
When the stay-at-home orders began in March, friends Stephanie Fedro-Byrom, Park Entrance Drive, Annie Skiba, Tampa Avenue, and Allison Carey, Main Entrance Drive, got the idea to donate food to the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.
“We weren’t even sure we would be able to cover this one meal,” says Fedro-Byrom. “Our intent was to provide some comfort and assistance to local organizations who serve the most vulnerable populations who are even more at risk now … at the same time, we wanted to support local restaurants who are also facing an uncertain future.”
So the friends posted on various community boards on Facebook, asking for donations, and the response was incredible. Within an hour, they raised $350 to provide boxed lunches from Lebo Subs and Betsy’s Ice Cream for 50, including residents, children and staff.
Since then, they have raised more than $12,000, which has provided more than 1,500 meals to six charities, while supporting 17 local restaurants. On top of that, they made an additional $650 donation to the South Hills Interfaith Movement and provided 31 Easter baskets to the children at the shelter.
“We ask the restaurants to charge us what they normally would, since the purpose is to support them. We are certain, however, that they have all been giving us a bit of a discount and an astounding amount of food,” says Fedro-Byrom. “Gianna Via’s [in Whitehall] insisted on providing a free traditional Easter dinner to the shelter.”
Other beneficiaries of this project include Meals on Wheels, Bethlehem Haven, Sojourner House and Ronald McDonald House. Of the 17 restaurants providing the meals, 14 have been in Mt. Lebanon.
“We have been organizing it, but it is our Lebo community that has made it possible,” says Fedro-Byrom. “. It has really been an honor to be a part of something like this, to feel like we are making at least a small difference at a time when we feel so helpless.”