International Women’s Day Posted on March 8, 2016 by Grounded Strategies Share this post March 8th is International Women’s day. Here at GTECH we have almost a 2:1 ratio (including Jasper) of women to men. Not that we’re counting… I’d like to recognize International Women’s Day by highlighting some of the amazing women we have on staff. In addition to their fabulous day jobs, these ladies spend a lot of time giving back to their communities, families and the world in general. In no particular order, meet some of our wonderful women and get a brief look into how they are making their corners of the world a better place. Katie M Katie just went through 19 hours of weekend training so that she could become an IRS-certified tax preparer to volunteer with Just Harvest to help with low-income tax prep. For the 2015 tax season, Just Harvest completed over 2,700 returns and refunded over $5.7 million to low-income families! The work was made possible by 117 volunteers donating nearly 5,900 hours of service. For the 2016 tax season, Katie is one of those volunteers. She explains why it’s so important to offer these services free of charge to low-income families, saying it’s expensive to have to pay someone to prepare your taxes, access to technology can be a limiting factor, and; “letting someone know they qualify for a refund that they didn’t know existed gives them a bit more of a cushion, a sense of security and an increase of opportunity for themselves and their dependents.” Katie will also be returning as a volunteer to Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh this spring, where she served with AmeriCorps several years ago to serve as a House Captain for National Rebuilding Day. Shannon B Neither snow nor rain nor sleet… keeps Shannon from her volunteer duties! As a dog walker for the Animal Rescue League, she spends at least 2 hours a week walking the shelter dogs. “It is one of the most rewarding things that I do. I have been doing it for 4 years now, in every kind of weather, and I love it. Animal welfare is something that is close to my heart. We have a 12-ish year old pup that we adopted about 5.5yrs ago from the ARL who insists on being the only pet in our home, so I get to interact with so many more through volunteering at the shelter.” The Animal Rescue League is an Open Door Shelter, which means that they provide shelter to any animal for any reason at any time. Last year, they adopted out over 1200 dogs! Adoption isn’t their only success, though. They also work to return thousands of animals to their owners. “They are a great organization and a wonderful resource to our community (and great GTECH neighbors!)” Learn more about Shannon, and see current volunteer opportunities at the ARL. Lydia Y Since Lydia doesn’t get enough time working on vacant lots at GTECH (joke), she spends some of her incredibly valuable free time managing the Kincaid Street Community Garden in Garfield with the support of Garfield Community Action Team, PULSE Pittsburgh, and volunteers. The garden has 40 plots which are tended by about 25 Garfield families and individuals each year. “The garden is especially popular among the kids who live nearby, several of whom have their own garden plots which they care for affectionately” Lydia volunteers at the garden for the love of dirt, neighborliness, and fresh veggies. She’s especially proud of a particularly meaty and delicious variety of tomatoes that she grows, called Yoder’s Heirloom Tomatoes. She originally got the seeds for the tomatoes for helping some distant relatives with their garden. They had been saving the seeds every year for the past century. If you’d like to try growing Yoder’s Heirloom Tomatoes yourself, email Lydia for some seeds! You can also read more wonderful things about her here. Sarah K Sarah spends a lot of time with trees. She’s been involved with the Lawrenceville Tree Tenders (LVTT) for 3 years and became the Chair in 2015. She also serves as Secretary on the Tree Pittsburgh Board of Directors. “We are currently working to implement ReLeaf Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh’s first neighborhood level urban forest master plan. LVTT, with the support of Tree Pittsburgh, conducts regular plantings, tree care and outreach. We also have 2 special projects – 1) the Lawrenceville Tree Park – a community green space that was once a weedy, vacant lot and 2) a public orchard that will be planted in Spring as part of a re-imagined Duncan Park (plans also include community garden space, pollinator gardens and natural playscape for youth).” Sarah doesn’t stop at trees, though. She’s also been a Penn State Master Gardener since 2015 and loves working on the various Master Gardener projects, including the Burgh Bees Urban Apiary Pollinator Garden in Homewood and the Edible Teaching Garden in North Point Breeze. Think she’s awesome? Check out her bio for more! Kristen M Aside from her very important job raising a future citizen of the United States, GTECH’s Administrative Coordinator does a lot with the Pittsburgh Mennonite Church. She has served on the Church’s Mission and Service Commission for about 4 and a half years, where she does outreach and works to link the church with activities beyond church – everything from neighborhood trash pick up to donating winter clothes to refugees in Pittsburgh to teaching a Sunday School class about mass incarceration. “I just finished up co-leading a class on the book the New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Really interesting stuff” Kristen really believes that it is important for churches to “get out there” and connect with the communities that they encounter. This often involves working to identify existing opportunities, rather than re-inventing the wheel, because there are endless causes to support, and decisions need to be made as to how to best direct your energy. “Churches are often full of well-intentioned people, so there’s a need to harness/direct that energy to positive, and not just “feel good” impacts.” Learn more about Kristen. Lydia K Lydia K is a jack of all trades – and a master at most! She’ll make you a sign, build you a bench or transform your messy excel spreadsheet into a beautiful, organized work of art. Lydia is also all about skill sharing. She loves helping people do something that they have never done before; “especially when that activity or skill has the power to positively effect their lives and the lives of their neighbors.” From teaching volunteers how to use shovels and wheelbarrows on site to sharing her sourdough starters with staff, Lydia would love to spend an afternoon teaching you everything she knows. She often opens her home to friends and neighbors for fermentation demonstrations – everything from kefir to sourdough to kambucha! She’s also great with animals… “Skill sharing is so important and often overlooked as a means of compensation or as a gesture of kindness. Skill sharing has introduced me to many neighbors that I may have otherwise never interacted with. Currently I provide care for my neighbor’s dog and in exchange, I do my laundry at her place instead of going to a laundromat.” Learn more about Lydia! *Please Note* This is not a comprehensive list of women who work at GETCH! There are some more, equally awesome women not included in this blog post!