ABOUT COL

 
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About Center of Life

Founded in 2002 by Tim Smith, Center of Life (COL) stands with the people of Hazelwood as they strive to be strong and to make their community strong. It is an outgrowth of the Keystone Church of Hazelwood, a community-based mission that has aided members of the greater Hazelwood community for over 30 years. With its roots planted deeply in the community and supported by extraordinary partners, Center of Life serves Hazelwood and its surrounding communities with rich academic out-of-school programs and outstanding experiences in music and arts. Center of Life employs a holistic approach to community through all of its programs, believing that commitment to others is most productive when you walk with those served in their schools, homes and families.

About Hazelwood

We are proudly located in the Hazelwood community of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Once the center of the steel industry in Pittsburgh, Hazelwood has suffered major losses in the past few decades. As the steel industry left the community, so did stores, schools and resources. At Center of Life we believe revitalization for Hazelwood comes from within the community, and we work with community members to help Hazelwood become the community it desires to be.

vision

Our Vision

TO EMPOWER AND EQUIP FAMILIES TO BRING ECONOMIC REVITALIZATION TO THEIR COMMUNITIES.

Our Mission

TO PROVIDE FAMILIES AND YOUTH WITH THE LIFE SKILLS, EDUCATION, TRAINING, AND RESOURCES NECESSARY TO BE STRONG AND TO MAKE THEIR COMMUNITIES STRONG.

 

letter


A LETTER FROM TIM SMITH, OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR


Sixteen years ago, I designed my first Center of Life cards, on which I put a personal note: “If you want to see lives changed for the better, you have to be willing to be there when it happens. Whatever it takes, however long it takes. It’s an inside job.” This was my challenge to myself and my commitment to the Hazelwood community. I wanted to be honest with myself right out of the gate that underserved communities don’t change overnight - economic discrimination impacts families for generations.  

I entered what I call the “University of Hazelwood” when I came to the community in 1980, twenty years before Center of Life was born. I spent those intervening years focused on listening to residents and learning about Hazelwood. The stories about the community that residents shared with me became the blueprint for services that Center of Life would later provide. 

After sixteen years, Center of Life has been around long enough to see our original group of children graduate not only from elementary school, but from college. Some have even returned to become part of our staff. We’ve also seen families empowered to control their own economy. Through it all, we’ve seen the resilience of a community that, over generations, has persevered in the face of systemic injustice.

As we look to the future, our goal is to be in Hazelwood another sixteen years and beyond, continuing our work to strengthen families and educate youth through music and the arts. Working together with community leaders and partners, we hope to continue building the capacity of this community so that each new generation is stronger than the last. Sixteen years after that first note to myself, this remains our challenge and our commitment. 

 
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partners

Foundation Partners and Corporate Donors

 

board

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Board of Directors

 

Timothy L. Smith, Sr. 

President and Executive Director

 

Paulo Nzambi, Chairperson

Executive Vice President and COO, Manchester Bidwell Corporation

 

Terry Fuller, Vice Chairperson

Lifelong resident of Hazelwood

 

Melissa Wagner, M. Ed., Secretary

Principal, Pittsburgh Public Schools 

 

John Lubimir, Treasurer

President, Eastwood Recycling Group, Inc.

 

 

 

Kwame Burroughs

Project Director, UPMC Health Plan

 

Will Thompkins

Interim Executive Director, The Pittsburgh Project

 

Rodney Hopson, Ph.D.

Professor, College of Education and Human Development, George Mason University

 

Fr. Daniel Walsh, C.S.Sp.

Formation Director of Spiritan Seminarians and Campus Minister, Duquesne University

 

Rose Velgich, M. Ed.

Teacher of the Deaf, Elementary Department, DePaul School for Hearing and Speech; Resident of Hazelwood

 

Dwayne J. Rankin

Community Development Loan Officer, 

Bridgeway Capital

 

Roger Humphries

Jazz Percussionist

 

Matthew Lancaster

Senior Analyst, West Penn Regional Center

 

Erik Garrett

Associate Professor, Duquesne University

 

Terri Shields

Lifelong resident of Hazelwood

 

col staff

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Our Staff