4th Annual Collards Cook Off

cookoffBYP hosted our annual Collard Greens Cook Off on November 15. Here are some photos from the event!bouquetThe Community Center was festooned with green and yellow pennants, and every table was graced with a bouquet of flowers. Best of all was the smell of hot, delicious comfort food.tastingEleven cooks brought eight different Collard Greens recipes, ranging from sweet to salty to spicy. For $5, attendees could sample each dish, and then vote for their favorite. The BYP youth supplied side dishes to complement the salty, savory greens, including Mac and Cheese, mashed potatoes, corn bread, cookies and sweet tea.samplesThe event also featured a raffle and silent auction. Raffle prizes included tickets to the Zoo, the Warhol, the Children’s Museum, and a gift basket full of toys from the movie Frozen. The auction was composed of tickets to the Opera, the Symphony, a gift basket from Brew Gentlemen, as well as pieces of artwork, some made by local artists in Braddock, and a few screen prints by the BYP youth.auctionWe want to give a special thank you for the generous donations we received. Thank you to the Children’s Museum, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, Pittsburgh Opera, Brew Gentemen, Cindy McCune, Nancy Shelton and Braddock Redux.overlookOnce the votes were in, we saw that the results were very close. In fact, we had a tie for second place, between Ferry Thankful Greens by Kimmy and Chris Ferry and Growing Up Green by Fairless, brought to us by Valerie Alchier and Jeff Millner. First place went to a returning champ, Rachelle Mackson and her Sweet Sally’s greens. Thank you to our other participating cooks: Jackie Page-Heidelberg, Ben Frazier, Rev. Samuel Thomas, Alice Leibowitz, and Joyce and Brendan Renne. Thank you to everyone who came to the event and made it a success!winners

BYP’s Field Trip to Google


The school year youth had their first field trip last week: a tour of Pittsburgh’s Google office in Bakery Square! It was fantastic to see inside the Google offices and hear from Software engineers during a panel discussion. The company is serious about confidentiality, so we didn’t take pictures beyond the lobby. What I can share is what we learned about how Google uses its office spaces to promote innovation and creativity.


The office was full of homages to Pittsburgh and the past of the building. It was a Nabisco factory from 1918 to 1998, and the office is still sprinkled with references to Nabisco products. An original mixer from the factory is still there, right near one of Google’s famous micro-kitchens. Their Tech-talk space is called the “In A Bisket” room. Parts of the office are also themed after Pittsburgh’s amusement park, Kennywood. They had a replica of a roller coaster car from the Thunderbolt ride. Another floor of the office was themed after bridges.


Our tour involved seeing the micro-kitchens, haircut and massage program, tech repair station and rooftop garden and chicken coop. Our tour guides told us about how the offices include a variety of environments, and this helps stimulate problem-solving. Working in the music room would put you in a much different mindset than the library, for example. One of my favorite sights was a room that had a live tree growing out of the ground.


After the tour, we learned about software engineering and got to ask questions to a panel of Googlers, who talked about the work they do and some of their most challenging projects. We also got to test our own team-working abilities when we were given a tricky logic puzzle to solve. It got us scratching our heads, but was good fun to figure out!

Thanks Google for welcoming us and answering our questions!

Braddock Halloween Event


We had a great success on Halloween at our event hosted in collaboration with Braddock Redux. The Nyia Page Community Center was festooned with ghosts, spider webs, paper chains and dried corn stalks. Families and kids came and were greeted with trick or treat bags filled with candy.


At each station, our guests had the chance to do some more trick or treating. The games and activities included Spider in the web toss, Corn in the hole, the Lollipop game, and making paper pumpkin crafts. Our Halloween guests could get spooky face paint, or take a photo with Dracula. There were tables of prizes to choose from, including books, games, puzzles and stuffed animals.


A popular attraction was also the Haunted Room, a chamber behind the pipe organ that BYP turned into a fright attraction. Those who dared could enter through the Grim Reaper of Terror and brave ghouls galore.


The BYP youth and staff had a great time decorating and staffing the event. Thanks to everyone who came and helped us celebrate Halloween!

The Weekday Update with your host, BYP!

BYP Jr. (Mentoring Team)

Hearts, Homework, and Hamsters

Since the end of October, BYP Jr. has been actively involved in our mentoring and service activities in the Braddock community. One of the things we have really enjoyed doing has been planning fun community events. We were first happy to take part in the Braddock Halloween Party, which filled the Nyia Page Community Center with local families and costumed children eager to play games, make crafts, and eat candy. The night was highlighted by the fantastic haunted house that all the youth worked hard to set up and run. Then in November, with the help of the American Legion and Paula, a wonderful volunteer, we hosted a game show night at Avenue Apartments, a local housing unit for elderly residents. The youth first had the idea to play Deal or No Deal, during which residents took their chances on fun prizes such as tissues, puzzle books, and candles. We then switched gears to an inventive form of Wheel of Fortune! We were all impressed by how quickly the residents used the clues, such as “card games,” to solve the puzzles, such as “hearts.” With the games, snacks, and good cheer, a great time was had by all!


BYP Jr. has also continued our daily mentoring at Heritage’s Out of School Time (HOST) after school program. One of the things we often do at HOST is help with homework. Even though the BYP youth go to school all day and have their own homework, they are always more than willing to help out the younger students with their assignments. While it sometimes takes us a minute to remember the rules for handwriting and counting blocks, we are always thrilled to see the kids succeed on their work! In addition, we have also been spending a lot of time playing badminton, building houses, and generally joining in on a number of activities. The appreciation of BYP Jr. at HOST was maybe most clearly displayed when several of the kids voted to name their class hamster Onta’e, after one of our awesome BYP youth!

BYP Gardening

The BYP gardening team kicked off the new year by planning discussion group topics and gathering information to debate with the discussion groups during homework time. Discussion group gives youth that may not have homework that day a chance to discuss important topics or things they have on their mind about school, home, sports, etc. We have also met with fellow members from the Braddock Community Cafe to come up with themes for the cafe, and recipes for the gardening team to try out as potential options for the menu. The team also got a head start on the long process of making seedlings–a key part to our garden success.


BYP Media Team

Despite a prolonged spate of really lousy weather (hey it’s Winter in da ‘Burgh. Whaddya expect?), the BYP Media Team continues to plow through it’s latest commissioned project: pocket folders for the downtown KEYS office! By now, of course, these pros are getting used to it. Demanding specs? Got it. Really good design? Covered. Tight registration for 2-color screen printing? We’re on it. Tight deadline? No problem. Nothing scares this team. I’ll post images when it’s done.

I shouldn’t be at all surprised. In December, we designed and screen printed Holiday cards that were sold at the Holiday Craft Sale across the street at the Braddock Carnegie Library as well as the Braddock Community Café. One design sold completely out. The others sold quite well. All designs were so popular that Kimmy Ferry, our KEYS Member Development Specialist and overall good egg commissioned our team to design and print HER Holiday cards. Which we did. And, of course, the results were spectacular…


What’s in store for the future? Screen printed hoodies for the Red Lantern Bike Store, t-shirts for another client, Street Sign Poetry in Poster form…

A lot to do, a lot to learn, but a lot to look forward to! See you next time!