On March 16, 2023, Allegheny County's Local Share Account grants were announced and the Etna Center for Community, the Etna library project, received an award of $400,000. This grant would not have been possible without the advocacy of Senator Lindsey Williams and Representative Sara Innamorato.
"The projects receiving LSA funding today are incredibly important for our communities,” said Senator Williams. “I’m incredibly proud to have worked with local (communities) to help secure the funding for these critical projects and I can’t wait to them come to fruition."
“These grants will provide essential dollars for multiple community resources and institutions to make accessibility improvements, repair infrastructure, and lay the groundwork for new resources,” Representative Innamorato said.
With this grant announcement, the library's Capital Campaign led by chair Mary Ellen Ramage has raised $1.6 million with a total goal of $4 million.
Earlier in the month, the Etna Community Organization and Etna Borough met with Senator Williams, Representative Innamorato, and their staff to tour the future site of the Etna Center for Community and the two Pop-Up spaces. We shared the latest plans from GBBN, the project's architects, and discussed how this place will become the vibrant heart of the community.
In addition to the grant announcement, the second library fundraiser of the year "Yoga & Boogie" was a fun, fantastic night out while also raising $3,534 for the future Etna library!
On March 18th, we gathered at Tree Pittsburgh around 7 p.m. to start a yoga class held by Brice Lynn in the beautiful main hall. We looked out the windows at the Allegheny River and could see the Etna Riverfront Park & Trail sign glowing above the river. By 8 p.m. the rest of the guests arrived and we began to "Boogie". We enjoyed delicious beverages from A Few Bad Apples Cider and had a donation jar vote on who is more popular: Michael Keaton or Jeff Goldblum. Dr. Ian Malcolm won the day over Beetlejuice, but we need to do a recount to be sure.
What was very, very special to us at the Etna Community Organization is that this fundraiser was largely developed and hosted by two Etna residents: Alice Gabriel and Judith Koch. If you don't already know them, they're the kind of neighbors that make Etna the wonderful place that it is: generous, hardworking, smart and knowledgeable, action-oriented, focused on helping others. Alice is one of the leaders at the Garden of Etna, grows produce for the Bread of Life Food Pantry, founded and manages Etna's yoga program since 2022, joined Etna Borough Council in 2021, serves on the Etna Center for Community Capital Campaign Committee, and is the mother of three wonderful Etna kids. You've likely seen Alice walking around the neighborhood picking up pieces of stray litter as she works to keep the community clean every day.
While not on our board/staff, we're lucky to have been working closely with Judith Koch since 2018 when she became an active participant in the Etna EcoDistrict as both a Water Champion and Equity Champion. She helped the team develop children's activities during the Pine Creek Awareness Day, created the Pine Creek backpack and nature box, and helped secure grant funding for the Sustainability Stroll, one of Etna's Urban Walking Trails. Judith has been hard at work at the Garden of Etna for almost ten years and serves as the community garden's Site Coordinator. Our closest collaboration was at Etna EcoPark where Judith designed, planted, and now maintains various planted areas throughout the park with her plant nursery company, Phyto Bello. Judith and her business partner Carya were instrumental in launching 'Nature Nights in Etna EcoPark' and served as the lead environmental educators in 2022.
So on top of all the wonderful things that Judith and Alice do for Etna, they also came to us with the idea of "Yoga & Boogie" and ran an event that was meaningful, fun, and impactful. One more shoutout goes to our yoga instructor Brice Lynn who donated his time and services as well as brought many people to share in the fun. You can catch a class with Brice this summer as Riverfront Yoga starts up.
If you find/found their stories to be inspiring, please know that there is a place for you as well, here in Etna or in the town you live. Never hesitate to take that first step in getting involved in your community. If you have an idea, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts.