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. 

Contact Virginia at valvino@wesa.fm.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Aaron Anthony, his wife Lauren Kokai, two-year-old daughter Adelaide, and their long-haired cat Cyrus recently moved into a single family home in Anthony’s hometown, Shaler. It’s just north of Pittsburgh, along the Allegheny River.

“A hidden gem,” Kokai said. “There’s lots of kids running around, rugrats on bikes.”

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

A petition urging Pittsburgh to officially declare itself a sanctuary city has resulted in a scheduled public hearing at City Council.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

On a breezy Wednesday morning, a tour group of gardeners and members of Pittsburgh's nonprofit community visited all the green spaces the neighborhood of Homewood had to offer. They saw the personal gardens of resident Amir Rashad, walked through shared plots and the garden manned by Operation Better Block.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

An independent bookstore chain in Pittsburgh is opening its third location on the South Side this week.

Amazing Books owner Eric Ackland still has quite a few bookshelves to fill. The 4,600-square-foot space on East Carson Street is about five times larger than his Downtown and Squirrel Hill locations.

“Most people assume a third store is evidence of great success,” he said. “In our case, thank God we’re seeking it out, but we need to thrive and we need a location to grow into.”

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

 

Last year, Hopewell Memorial Junior High School started noticing some negative race-based comments being made among students. Studies show safe environments are essential for learning, and being victim to identity-based harassment can be especially detrimental in school.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is seeking public input as it finalizes plans for Pittsburgh's long-awaited bus rapid transit system.

Riders can offer suggestions at upcoming neighborhood meetings about street design, station locations and what amenities they’d like to see at each station, like benches and Connect Card machines. They'll also offer general updates and allow for questions about the planning process, spokesman Adam Brandolph said.

Irina Zhorov / Keystone Crossroads

The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously agreed Tuesday to create a bipartisan group tasked with investigating lead exposure in the state.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Every day at Urban Academy Charter School in Pittsburgh’s Larimer neighborhood begins with students, teachers, support staff and administrators gathered in the cafeteria.

Mornings start with brief presentations on black history, followed by song: “I Believe I Can Fly,” the black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and once in a while, a little Bruno Mars.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

Consultant Brian Burley says his new book YNGBLKPGH (Young Black Pittsburgh) is proof that his community produces a lot of success stories and that the next generation can go even farther.

The book highlights 140 black professionals from the city. Each wrote an open letter to fellow young, black Pittsburghers.

90.5 WESA’s Virginia Alvino Young talked to the author about his book and the social movement Burley says he hopes it will create. 

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

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Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Pride festival is no stranger to controversy. This year marks the 10th annual celebration hosted by the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh.

Rehumanize International

Pittsburgh organizers of an anti-war event have removed a pro-life group from co-sponsorship, after receiving a number of public complaints. The demonstration is still scheduled to proceed in July.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The president of the South Side Chamber of Commerce said he feels the popular bar district is still a safe place despite a deadly shooting inside the Rowdy Buck bar early Sunday morning.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Theresa Finn’s son, Jamar, was murdered nearly five years ago. She said it’s getting harder to deal with every day.

“Somebody shot through the window and killed my baby instantly. What I told people is that everyone is suffering. It [isn’t] just the moms,” Finn said. “When you take somebody’s life, it affects everybody, the whole community.”

Last week, Finn attended a preview of a new exhibit at Center of Life in Hazelwood called "I Lived, We Live, What Did We Miss?"

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner wants the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority to stop all partial lead line replacements in the city.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

On a Friday afternoon in April, David Lyttle pieced together his drum kit on a patch of grass in Pittsburgh’s Hill District.

Adam Kucenic

A local restaurateur who planned to open a ‘90s hip-hop-themed fried chicken restaurant in East Liberty is changing the concept after receiving some backlash from the community.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Activists across Pennsylvania planned protests Monday to express their disapproval of the U.S. House of Representatives’ vote to appeal the Affordable Care Act.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

New research from the Rand Corporation shows that who you are – including your race, education and income – is a big predictor of how healthy you eat. But where you live matters, too.

Since 2011, Rand has compared the health of residents in Homewood, a food desert, with the Hill District, which went 30 years without a grocery store before finally getting one in 2013.

Screengrab / Woodland Hills Surveillance Video

More Woodland Hills High School students have come forward alleging abuse by a school principal and a school resource officer.

Four students are claiming abuse over the past two years, according to Pittsburgh Attorney Todd Hollis, who represents three of the students.

A 2015 surveillance video shows a student thrown to the ground by armed school resource officer Steve Shaulis, who works for the Churchill Police Department. The school’s principal, Kevin Murray, assisted Shaulis in holding the student down. The student was then Tasered.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

While waiting for his bus downtown, Melvin Dawson said he doesn’t dislike Mayor Bill Peduto.

“He’s OK,” he said. “But I think they messed up when they let that police chief go."

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Demonstrators on the City-County Building’s steps downtown Monday called for legislation recognizing Pittsburgh as a sanctuary city. It was part of several May Day events in the city, which traditionally call for workers’ rights.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said she will investigate the county health department’s methodology for determining the cause of elevated lead levels in children.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Jeremiah’s Place is celebrating three years of service as western Pennsylvania’s only crisis nursery this month.

Located inside the Kingsley Association in Larimer, the facility provides 24-hour care for infants and children, who can stay for a few hours or even days when their parents are unable to provide help themselves.

Mark J. Terrill / AP

A new Pennsylvania program allows adults with disabilities and their families to save money for future expenses.

Pennsylvania ABLE was launched Monday and is open to people with intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities or blindness – or anyone who qualifies for Social Security Income or Supplemental Security Disability Income

It’s the result of the federal ABLE Act which was passed in 2014, led by Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey. It was then up to individual states to design their own programs.

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. 

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