On a day when hundreds of thousands across the country took to the streets to show their support for stronger climate policy and against climate denial, Millvalians gathered at the Millvale Community Center to celebrate Millvale’s achievements in sustainability and make the connection between the impact our environment has on our health.
Dreamt up by graduating Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellow, Amanda Hagl, the first ever Millvale Environment & Health Fair was an opportunity for Millvale residents to see Millvale’s award winning sustainability projects, volunteer in a community clean-up, provide input for how they envision Millvale’s future, and connect with healthcare resources and professionals, and celebrate the installation of a 32kW, 96 panel solar installation on the Millvale Community Center along with our Teen Solar Fellows.
Led by the Millvale Library’s Volunteer Coordinator, Maria Mongelluzzo, residents and business owners from across the town rose bright and early to volunteer and help clean up Millvale. With bags full of trash and weeds, our heart of town is looking ready for business and the upcoming May Days activities this weekend!
Volunteerism has played a strong hand in all the positive momentum in Millvale, and is our way of showing the world that we are a community that cares. Last Saturday’s clean-up was only one of many opportunities for all of us to get our hands dirty and do our part in keeping Millvale beautiful. For more volunteer opportunities in the future for you or your business, contact Maria!
With services ranging from blood pressure screenings to physical activities like yoga and tai-chi, we had over 20 professionals who volunteered to spend the day in Millvale, connecting our community members to expert advice and fun activities.
The Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority was on hand providing sign-ups for free lead test kits and filters.
Our local businesses also got in the act, with businesses like Medicap Pharmacy partnering with the Millvale Police Department for a prescription drug recycling take-back, and the Lincoln Pharmacy providing free blood pressure screenings. Tupelo Honey Teas provided healthy options for lunch to honor our volunteers and residents while Jenny from the Millvale Yoga Collective provided free yoga and belly dancing classes, showing people that being healthy can be both delicious and fun. Providing free dental advice, Dr. George Sitterle was on hand with free toothbrushes and paste to make sure we brushed after our meal!
Also present for tours was UPMC’s Ronald McDonald Mobile, which provides free pediatric healthcare services for families who may have a hard time accessing health insurance. Families visiting the mobile care unit learned when and where their future service sites will be.
Additional resources and services included nutrition education activities from Let’s Move Pittsburgh, and free HIV screenings, preventative health screenings for women, diabetes education, audiology services, and fall risk prevention education, courtesy of Duquesne University students and 2016-2017 Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows.
The Millvale Environment & Health fair was also an opportunity for community members to provide feedback and continue to shape Millvale’s future.
During the day’s activities, the Millvale Community Library officially kicked off Millvale’s Community Needs Assessment in partnership with the Borough of Millvale, GTECH Strategies, North Hills Community Outreach, and the Sisters of St. Francis. Mirroring the efforts from over two decades ago, the needs assessment is a community driven census with the goal of reaching half of all Millvale residents with survey questions around the needs, hopes, and dreams of our community members.
Implemented by residents hired to go door to door and engage community members, this in-depth study alongside the EcoDistrict Pivot Plan is another way Millvale residents are driving the change we are all witnessing.
Also open to the community for feedback was the old Moose Lodge that was recently purchased by EcoDistrict Collaborative member, New Sun Rising. With a goal of being a community space with an Italian cafe, commercial kitchen, and entrepreneurial programming, residents were welcomed in to learn more about the space, see official plans, and share their own ideas for how they would like to see the space grow and transform.
While heavy rains put a damper on self guided tours of our sustainability projects, the sun still shines bright on Millvale with the Community Center having been solarized just a day earlier, joining the Library, and the Imagine Building as the third community space to be solarized in the past three years.
Installed by our great partners at EIS Solar, the 96 panel installation will produce 35,563 kilowatt-hours of electricity, saving the Borough an estimated $113,000 over 25 years, driving taxpayer dollars towards projects to continue Millvale’s transformation.
As for the environment, this solar installation is reducing Millvale’s carbon footprint by 27.5 tons. Preventing over 26,000 pounds of coal being burned, the installation has the same positive environmental impact as over 23 acres of forest.
Best of all, we celebrated the end of the Millvale Teen Solar Fellowship, where participating teens attended four workshops, learning about how solar energy works and jobs in the ever growing renewable energy industry. The program culminated in the teens getting to interact with and shadow professional solar installers as they worked on the community center.
For over a decade, Millvale has been working to become a stronger, more sustainable community. While Millvale’s efforts are improving environmental conditions the real prize is improving the health and quality of life of our community members. If we all work together with that goal in mind, we know that we will also have a positive impact on the environment and reduce the impacts of climate change. Thinking globally and acting locally, we are grateful to be able to share these kinds of experiences with our community.
Many thanks to the volunteers, residents, and the Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellowship Program for making this an amazing day for our community! Thanks also to the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, Green Mountain Energy, Neighborhood Allies, The Heinz Endowments, and the Grable Foundation for supporting and guiding Millvale’s commitment to sustainability and community health.