Garden is highlight of Sheldon Park’s 30th annual Community Day in Harrison

August 20, 2018
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Dan Miller, a member of Christ Our Hope Church, serves food to Wanda Cox during the 30th annual Sheldon Park Community Day in Harrison on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018.

At Sheldon Park, the community is growing a garden, and the garden is helping to grow the community.

The new community garden was a highlight of the 30th annual Sheldon Park Community Day, held Friday at the Allegheny County Housing Authority complex in Harrison.

The day featured a variety of events and activities, including lunch for children and seniors, music, a bouncy house, petting zoo, story time and bingo. Representatives were present from Head Start, the Leukemia Society, Allegheny-Kiski Health Foundation, and First Commonwealth Bank.

The rain stopped in time for residents and dignitaries to walk over to the garden from the Lloyd D. Hayden Center and check out the crops, which include tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, peppers, watermelon, herbs, radishes, beans, peas, mushrooms and flowers in 10 plots tended to by families.

Anita Minnis, who has lived at Sheldon Park for more than 20 years, was among the group that got the garden started, helped by a $10,000 Pennsylvania Health and Wellness grant.

The garden is meant to bring the community together, Minnis said.

“Everybody who has a plot, I didn’t know them before,” she said.

Minnis said she’s hoping as more residents see how nice the garden is, more will want to get involved -- which will mean more dirt, more beds and more crops.

“My love is this community and getting it together,” she said.

Part of the Allegheny County Housing Authority, Sheldon Park is a low-income, family public housing development. More than 500 people live among its nearly 200 townhouses.

Sydney Hayden, president of the Sheldon Park Resident Council, said community day is about bringing families together and the happiness in the children’s faces.

A day care is something they’re working on adding at Sheldon Park, Hayden said.

“A day care is needed in our community,” she said. “A lot of parents have to take their kids to Pittsburgh and put them in a day care and then go back and pick them up after work.”

Hayden, who recently became a member of the housing authority’s board of directors, said she also wants to help teach the community’s children to do things right i -- nstead of wrong.

“It’s so hard when you see a lot of bad things on the news, and you listen out on the street,” she said. “This is a good community. A lot of communities aren’t as good as us. I’m not saying we’re better than other communities, but we do a lot for our children. We’re going to continue to do a lot for our children. That’s what they need.”

Hayden praised Minnis for her work on the garden and said she’s only getting started. They plan to paint the beds, add benches and expand the garden next year.

“It’s going to be a community garden you want to go to,” Hayden said.

State Rep. Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, and state Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-Glenshaw, were among those who came to community day event and who Minnis showed around the garden.

“It’s a neat concept you have,” said Vulakovich, who is leaving office later this year. “Hopefully you’ll keep that going. That’s a good idea.”

Dermody said he would continue to work with residents to improve Sheldon Park.

“I know we’ve got some problems we’ve got to deal with. Transportation is a real issue,” he said. “I’ve been trying to work on Port Authority to make sure we get some restoration of services here.

“We have increased funding to Port Authority,” he said. “I keep working them to get some more bus service up here to at least get us to the (Pittsburgh) Mills (mall), some local service so we can get to supermarkets and get us into the city of Pittsburgh. I promise you I’ll continue to do that, to work to make that happen. It is not going to be easy. I think with the increased funding to Port Authority we’re going to be able to add some routes up here.”

District Judge Carolyn Bengel was among the speakers. She said that in the last couple of weeks, she has seen more and more cases involving neighbors fighting.

“I just can’t figure it out,” she said. “We all know there’s so much going on in the world. We don’t need to be fighting with each other.

“My message today -- I’m asking you: Please be kind to everyone, be kind to each other and help each other out if you can.”

Residents were able to register to vote at the event, the importance of which Dermody stressed.

“It’s important that we all vote. You know what’s going on in this country,” he said. “We all need to exercise our right to vote.”

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