Photo courtesy of Hello Neighbor
Children at a Hello Neighbor event
, a Big Brothers Big Sisters-like program for native-born residents and refugees, has received acclaim from all over. The program has been covered by Pittsburgh City Paper
, local daily newspapers and TV stations; national publications like the Washington Post
and NBC News have covered the program, too. Over the summer, the Pittsburgh Pirates
even hosted a Hello Neighbor night.
Hello Neighbor creator Sloane Davidson says the response has been overwhelming, in a good way. Now, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Pittsburgh City Council are hosting a Hello Neighbor dinner at the City-County Building tonight, at which immigrants, refugees and native-born residents can mingle and get tours of the building (in six different languages).
“It's just so amazing, a year ago Hello Neighbor didn't exist and now we have this event with the city,” says Davidson.
Davidson hopes the increased attention and praise will lead to another successful year of matching native-born Pittsburghers with local refugees and immigrants. For the inaugural Hello Neighbor session, which was held over four months last summer, Davidson says the program had 25 groups with refugees and immigrants from seven different countries across Africa and Asia. About 200 people participated in the program.
Davidson says Hello Neighbor held several events throughout the summer, and often more than 100 people attended. Native-born mentors came from all over Allegheny County, and included families with young children, mother-daughter pairs, and single urbanites. Davidson says that mentor applications are open to anyone. Refugee and immigrant mentees can also be nominated
on Hello Neighbor's website
“The program was not just multicultural, but multi-generational,” says Davidson.
Applications to be a mentor
are still being accepted, but close at midnight, on Nov. 19. A FAQ
is available on the Hello Neighbor website. Davidson says mentorships are four-month commitments and typically involve about 10 hours a month with refugee mentees. The next Hello Neighbor session begins in March 2018 and runs through June 2018.
The Nov. 14 Hello Neighbor event at the City-County Building starts at 5:30 p.m., and includes a free dinner and discussion. Peduto and city councilors Dan Gilman, Theresa Kail-Smith, Bruce Kraus, Daniel Lavelle and Corey O'Connor will be in attendance. The event is open to the public and located at 414 Grant St., Downtown.