Special Initiatives

McAuley Ministries occasionally funds special initiatives that support or otherwise advance our grant-making priorities.

McAuley Ministries presents the first Sister Susan Welsh Good Neighbor Award to Ms. Edna Council

By Tina Harper

The first recipient of the Sister Susan Welsh Good Neighbor Award is Edna Council, a life-long resident of the Hill District, who was nominated by Carol Hardeman, co-director of the Hill District Consensus Group, and Terri Baltimore, vice president of Neighborhood Development at the Hill House Association. The award was presented July 22 by the McAuley Ministries Board of Directors during a celebration breakfast held at Carlow University Commons in West Oakland.

McAuley Ministries Executive Director Michele Rone Cooper introduced the new award and presented it to Ms. Edna. Her daughter Janicee Williams and son-in-law Irvin Williams, granddaughter Janai Smith with husband, Lee Smith, and grandson Jann Council were on hand to mark the occasion. Hardeman and Baltimore were also in attendance.

2019 Sister Susan Welsh Good Neighbor Award recipient Ms. Edna Council (second from left), surrounded by family, McAuley Ministries leadership, and community partners. (Photos by E.A. Smith for CREW Productions LLC)

The Good Neighbor Award was created to honor the legacy of Sister Susan Welsh, RSM, retired president and CEO of Pittsburgh Mercy, and current board chairperson and founding board member of McAuley Ministries Foundation. Sister Susan has been a compassionate, helpful, and willing volunteer, beyond the scope of her leadership responsibilities. In honor of Sister Susan’s service to Pittsburgh Mercy and her continued works of mercy, the Sister Susan Welsh Good Neighbor Award was born.

The award recognizes a resident of the Hill District, Uptown, or West Oakland, the neighborhoods served by McAuley Ministries, who exemplifies the ideals of a “good neighbor” – someone who is compassionate; friendly; helpful; a willing volunteer; an organizer of neighborhood events; and willing to devote time, talents and resources to make their neighborhood a better place in which to live. The award celebrates an individual resident who is working at the grassroots level to make a positive difference for his or her neighbors and community, beyond their day-to-day work responsibilities.

“Ms. Edna is a servant leader, a devoted volunteer, and leads others on a journey of healing, seeking, and community transformation,” according to Hardeman’s nomination.

“Ms. Edna is a social change leader, focusing on strengthening the Hill District by encouraging residents to work together to find solutions to make change within their community.” – Carol Hardeman

Hardeman affirms, “Ms. Edna has a proven track record and is a prime example of what a good neighbor should be.”

Baltimore experienced first-hand Ms. Edna’s compassion. When Baltimore became director of the Hill District Community Collaborative in 1992, Ms. Edna took Baltimore under her wing. “Ms. Edna’s patience helped me to find my way – as a woman and as a leader. Her knowledge of the neighborhood helped me to understand the relationships, community politics, and its history.”

Ms. Edna was an original volunteer for the Children’s Art And Talk Group (CHAAT), which Baltimore initiated at the Collaborative.

“Ms. Edna was the grandparent figure that so many of the children did not have. She was the authority who never wavered and who lovingly took on her tasks. She was the boundary keeper, and her recitation of the ground rules came with a gravitas that none of the rest of the staff had. She created and maintained a safe and mutually respectful environment. Her role was critical to the success of the program.”  – Terri Baltimore

Over the years, her role has been taken up by different elders in the community.

Ms. Edna uplifts spirits and sees value in the community beautification projects that she leads, such as hanging flower baskets and holiday banners displayed along Centre and Herron avenues. Ms. Edna wrote the initial letter seeking grant funding for the project and coordinated with the Hill District Consensus Group to secure on-going funding.

Ms. Edna is a tireless volunteer, caring for children who need a home, providing them shelter and support. She would purchase a coat or shoes for anyone who was in need.

“Ms. Edna is a visible presence in the Hill District. When I see her, I automatically think of her tenacity and passion for the community.” – Michele Rone Cooper, Executive Director, McAuley Ministries

Michele Rone Cooper, 2019 Sister Susan Welsh Good Neighbor Award recipient Ms. Edna Council, and Sister Susan Welsh, RSM

Upon receiving the award, Ms. Edna humbly stated, “I didn’t do any of these things for recognition. I did them because I wanted to.”

“We’d like to thank the McAuley Ministries Foundation for this award and for selecting Ms. Edna as the charter recipient,” said Irvin Williams, Ms. Edna’s son-in-law, speaking on behalf of Ms. Edna and her family.

Ms. Edna also volunteers as treasurer for the Hill District Consensus Group and serves as a member of the Center of Family Excellence steering committee to help close achievement gaps in support of people of color. She is a member of Macedonia Church of Pittsburgh in the Hill District.

Professionally, Ms. Edna has worked within several nonprofit organizations committed to serving underrepresented communities.

“Every community needs a Ms. Edna – a person who will be a fighter, protector, and champion for the places she loves.” – Terri Baltimore

Tina Harper, the author, is administrative assistant to McAuley Ministries and the Pittsburgh Mercy Communications Department.

Now Accepting Nominations: 2020 Sister Susan Welsh Good Neighbor Award

Susan Welsh RSM
Sister Susan Welsh, RSM (Photo by Don Scandinaro Photography)

McAuley Ministries invites nominations for the Sister Susan Welsh Good Neighbor Award. Named in honor of Sister Susan Welsh, RSM, retired president and CEO of Pittsburgh Mercy, and a founding board member and the current board chairperson of the McAuley Ministries Foundation, this award recognizes resident of the Hill District, Uptown, or West Oakland who exemplifies the ideals of a “good neighbor” – compassionate; friendly; helpful; a willing volunteer; an organizer of neighborhood events; willing to devote time, talents, and resources to make his or her neighborhood a better place to live.

“Sr. Susan is an excellent example of valuing community, demonstrating our connectedness to each other through inclusive and compassionate relationships, and being a good neighbor. She regularly shops for an elderly neighbor. She offers transportation to neighbors who can no longer walk the distance to Mass or to doctor appointments. She rescues stranded motorists. Consistent with the Works of Mercy, she delivers food, clothing, and other essential supplies to our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness. Sr. Susan gives of herself to improve the lives of her neighbors and her community.”– Michele Rone Cooper, Executive Director, McAuley Ministries

The Sister Susan Welsh Good Neighbor Award and a cash prize will be presented on an annual basis. McAuley Ministries will recognize the recipient during a community event. With the recipient’s permission, the award will be publicized through a news release, on the McAuley Ministries website, and through Pittsburgh Mercy social media.

Eligibility Criteria

  • The nominee must have a proven track record of devoting his or her time, talents, and resources to make their neighborhood a better place to live.
  • The purpose of the award is to recognize an individual resident who is working at the grassroots level to make a positive difference for his or her neighbors and community, beyond their day-to-day work responsibilities. The award is not intended for businesses or organizations.
  • Pittsburgh Mercy, Bethlehem Haven, and McAuley Ministries board and staff members are ineligible for the award and are not permitted to nominate family members.
  • Presidents, CEOs, and executive directors of community-based organizations are ineligible for the award and are not permitted to nominate family members.
  • The Sister Susan Welsh Good Neighbor Award and a cash prize will be awarded on an annual basis during the month of June.  Any tax liabilities associated with the award must be assessed and borne by the award recipient.

McAuley Ministries Foundation reserves the right to refuse entries that do not meet the eligibility criteria and nomination instructions. Entrants giving false or misleading information will be excluded or the award forfeited (if known post award).

How to Enter

1. The letter of nomination should not exceed three pages:

  • Please describe your relationship to the nominee. Include the personal knowledge that you have of the nominee’s qualifications for the award.
  • Using specific examples, describe how the nominee has had a positive impact on his or her neighbors and community.  Describe any actions this person has taken that go above and beyond his or her work responsibilities and other efforts in the community.
  • Include at least one additional support letter from a member of the community.

2. Nominations for residents under the age of 18 must include documentation of parental approval (document where indicated on the nomination form).

3. The nomination must include a completed nomination form.

Download the Good Neighbor Award Nomination Form

Please submit the completed nomination form via email or U.S. mail by March 31, 2020 to:

Michele Rone Cooper
Executive Director
McAuley Ministries Foundation
McAuley Hall
3333 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3109

If you have questions about the Sister Susan Welsh Good Neighbor Award, please contact Michele Rone Cooper at 412-578-6223 or Tina Harper at 412-578-6675.


Workforce Development 

In 2016, McAuley Ministries convened organizations that provide workforce development services to residents of the Hill District, Uptown, and West Oakland. Our partners include: A. Philip Randolph Institute, Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), Community Kitchen Pittsburgh, Energy Innovation Center, FOCUS Pittsburgh, Hill House Association, and Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh. We identified several strategies to improve outcomes for training, employment, and retention. Those strategies include addressing transportation needs, case management, and marketing.

The first collaborative project involves transportation. McAuley Ministries has awarded a grant to Traveler’s Aid to provide bus passes and gasoline debit cards for clients enrolled in one of the above workforce training programs. The partners will report on the number of clients served and whether those clients completed training, gained employment, and retained employment after six months. McAuley Ministries has also awarded mini-grants to several of the partners to assist their clients in securing drivers’ licenses. Each partner receiving a grant will track the number of clients earning drivers’ licenses, the number of clients earning drivers’ licenses who gain employment, and the number of clients retaining employment after six months.


Future Makers: Build a Bright Future – Career Awareness & College Access

McAuley Ministries is partnering with Oakland Planning and Development Corporation’s School2Career program to engage Hill District and Oakland youth via monthly career-focused workshops for students in grades 7 through 12. These interactive events will focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), business, the arts, health care, and liberal arts careers. Youth will be able to experience and develop new skills, connect with area programs, meet professionals, and expand their college and career options. The college access component will engage students and parents, providing guidance regarding college preparation, application, and financing. Students will have the opportunity to participate in SAT preparation and college fairs; families will have access to financial literacy workshops, paying for college workshops, and support in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.

McAuley Ministries and School2Career will track the number of students participating; the number and percentage of graduating students who enroll in college; college majors of these students; and the financial aid packages of graduating students.

Stories of Hope

Oakland Planning and Development School2Career: Future makers

S. is a sophomore at Pittsburgh University Preparatory School and Westinghouse Career and Technical Education program; she attended both January maker days.

“Future Makers was an amazing event. The Drop the Mic workshop was amazing, and to learn about iMovie and to film our own movie project. I was able to learn about how to make short movie clips by myself. It was exciting and easy to follow.”

J. is a freshman at Pittsburgh Obama Academy.

“We learned about forensic scientist careers in the Crime Scene Investigation workshop. There was a lot of action in the workshop. I liked the equipment we used to solve the crime. I would like more events like this in the future. I learned something new from this event, a lot about what forensic scientists do in a crime lab.”