Virginia Alvino Young

Reporter

Virginia reports on identity and justice for 90.5 WESA. That means looking at how people see themselves in the community, and how the community makes them feel. Her reporting examines things like race, policing, and housing to tell the stories of folks we often don't hear from. 

A native of Las Vegas, NV, Virginia has slowly been making her way eastward, reporting for NPR stations across the country. She started her reporting career at the statehouse in Oregon, and has had stints in Indiana and Texas before moving to Pittsburgh in 2016. 

Virginia lives on the North Side with her husband and fat cat Bean. They enjoy exploring Pittsburgh's neighborhoods, and hiking throughout the region, although they usually leave Bean at home. 

Taylor Davidson

Pittsburghers who want to support refugees in the community will soon be able to do so one-on-one.

A new organization called Hello Neighbor is now taking applications for individuals and families who want to be matched as friends and mentors to incoming refugees.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The story of Abraham is well known in Christianity, Islam and Judaism. According to the texts, God calls upon Abraham from his home in Mesopotamia to journey to the promised land with his family. 

That story inspired Pittsburgh writer Jacob Bacharach's second novel. 

"The Doorposts of Your House and on Your Gates" is a modern retelling of Abraham's tale set in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania. 

90.5 WESA’s Virginia Alvino Young spoke with Bacharach about his new book. 

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Michael Olijnyk has a hard time throwing things away. He’s co-director of the Mattress Factory, along with with Barbara Luderowski. They live in the museum, on an upper floor.  

“We are obsessive, obsessive collectors,” he said.

Not hoarders, Olijnyk specified.  

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Franklin Avenue in Wilkinsburg is a mostly uneventful place these days.

“It’s been quiet,” said Jackie Pendleton, who’s lived in the borough northeast of Pittsburgh for 34 years. “It’s been quiet since that incident took place down the street.”

Chris Sloan / Flickr

 

The Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown has agreed to take more steps to protect children from sexual abuse. 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Vanessa McCarthy-Johnson was scrambling to organize her community at this time last year. The Wilkinsburg Borough councilwoman said she felt there was a need to come together after five people, including a pregnant woman, were murdered at a backyard barbecue in the neighborhood.

Auslandsoesterreicherflickraccountinhaber / Flickr

Ticks don’t always wait until the spring to become active. A warm snap in western Pennsylvania could mean more breeding among the insects, and more cases of Lyme disease.

Pennsylvania has had the highest rate of Lyme disease in the nation for years – and that number is going up. More than 12,000 cases were reported last year -- one-third the total cases of Lyme disease across the country.  

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

A new film fest is coming to Pittsburgh.

The inaugural Black Bottom Film Festival will showcase contemporary, classic and independent black cinema this Friday through Sunday at the August Wilson Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

Joe Lewis of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust said there aren't enough platforms for black video, particularly locally produced and independent films. He said the jumping off points for selecting media for the festival, were the themes frequented by famed Pittsburgh writer August Wilson.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

A member of the Somali Bantu community in Pittsburgh is in critical condition after being severely beaten early Tuesday morning. 

The victim is a cab driver who was responding to a call in Beltzhoover.

Many members of the Muslim and refugee community said they're concerned it may have been a hate crime. Pittsburgh Police are investigating, but said there is no evidence of bigotry.

Pittsburgh Police Assistant Chief Lavonnie Bickerstaff said it’s possible the Somali man was beaten as the result of a robbery.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Declining enrollment is causing the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh to restructure some of its elementary schools.

Last weekend, Diocese officials announced that 10 elementary schools in the North Hills would be put under a single administration. The changes will go into effect next fall.

Bishop David Zubik said now, all 32 regional parishes will support those schools.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The number of Pittsburgh police officers is on track to reach its highest number in 15 years, city officials said just one day after installing new Chief Scott Schubert.

On Friday, a class of seven new Pittsburgh police officers were sworn in – all experienced and coming from other regional departments.

Mayor Bill Peduto said the city has made intentional efforts to attract outside talent.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Between Scott Schubert's recent appointed as Pittsburgh's new police chief and President Donald Trump's vow to be a “law and order" president, Pittsburgh Director of Alliance for Police Accountability Brandi Fisher is very busy.

Allegheny County

Health agencies in Allegheny County want more families to take advantage of free home visit programs.

The “Open Doors to Home Visiting” campaign was launched this week by the Allegheny County Health Department and Department of Human Services.

There are currently 36 home visit programs in the county for expectant and new mothers. Health Department Director Karen Hacker said home visit programs have been proven to work.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Politicians from the local and state level are partnering in a new way to find out what issues are most important to Pittsburgh’s black residents and how to address them.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A western Pennsylvania school superintendent has resigned after water problems forced an elementary school to close and relocate students to a previously shuttered building.

According to the Butler Area School District’s website, Dr. Dale Lumley’s resignation is effective immediately.

Summit Elementary in Summit Township was closed for two days

About two weeks ago, the district and Department of Environmental protection worked to rectify high lead levels in the well water provided to the property.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

On a snowy afternoon in the Hill District, Shafon Willis and her two kids waited for the 83 bus. Winter, 3, couldn’t seem to hold onto one of her pink gloves, which kept falling to the ground.

The Willis family rides the bus about three times a day to get to daycare and Shafon’s job on the South Side. She said she’s not a big fan of some of the recent changes to the bus system in Allegheny County. A new rule that went into effect Jan. 1 requires riders to enter in the front of the bus and exit from the back of the bus.  

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Pittsburgh workers’ groups delivered petitions to Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey Monday, asking him to oppose the nomination of President Trump’s nominee for labor secretary.

Last week, Andy Puzder’s confirmation hearing was delayed for the third time, while he completes the required ethics paperwork.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Police Chief Scott Schubert isn't acting anymore.

The Brookline resident took over Friday as police chief of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, pending approval from City Council.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Ride-sharing service Uber announced Tuesday it will fund all rides for women to the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. 

Free rides will also be provided to legal, medical and other appointments for those staying in the shelter through the $10,000 donation from Uber.  

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

To make the move to its new space, the Animal Rescue League paraded dogs, wagons full of cats and even a snake two blocks down Hamilton Avenue in Homewood Monday.  

Chief Executive Officer Dan Rossi said the old, smaller facility was always over capacity.

Summit Against Racism

Pittsburgh’s 19th annual Summit Against Racism takes place Saturday.

This year’s summit coordinator Mary Parker said with so many other events going on this weekend surrounding the inauguration of Donald Trump, she received some requests to move the date of her event.

She said the summit is always held the Saturday after Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Facebook

In activist Sueño Del Mar's mind, Pittsburgh is always moving forward.

“We don’t sit by silently,” she said.

But even in a city with a rich history of social movements and organizing, corralling the events scheduled the week Donald Trump takes office has been tough. It certainly was not a unified front.

Fight Back Pittsburgh

Hundreds of Pittsburghers will head to Washington D.C. this weekend to participate in protests and events coinciding President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Quinn Dombrowski / flickr

Allegheny Health Network hopes to fill a gap in coverage for new moms with an Intensive Outpatient Program. Clinical psychologist Rebecca Weinberg said treatment for mothers suffering from pregnancy-related depression often jumps between regular outpatient care and expensive in-patient care.

A new three-hour intensive outpatient program at Western Pennsylvania Hospital three days a week will offer intensive group therapy, medication management and allow women to bring their babies with them.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

In December, Sala Udin was recognized by President Barack Obama with a presidential pardon.

The 73-year-old native of Pittsburgh's Hill District served seven months of a five-year prison sentence in 1972.

Liz Reid / 90.5 FM WESA

This is the third in a three-part web series looking ahead to 2017 with members of Pittsburgh City Council. Find part one here and part two here.

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

No agency is independently testing or verifying the quality of Pittsburgh’s drinking water, according to an audit released Monday by Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

A lot has changed over its 35 year history, but the Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour has always started on Beech Avenue at Calvary United Methodist Church.

Kristi Jan Hoover / City Theatre

For Pittsburgh’s theater community, national headlines like “Oscars So White” feel just as relevant to local stage productions. 

City Theatre Company artistic producer Reginald L. Douglas said playwrights often write with certain types of actors in mind to speak about themes of race, class or gender. A play about the immigrant experience could be cast with white actors, he said, but that might not tell the same story.

Pages