You might call the neighborhood of Regent Square a "border town" of sorts. It straddles the lines between the city of Pittsburgh and the eastern boroughs of Edgewood, Swissvale and Wilkinsburg.
In fact, the border between Pittsburgh and Swissvale runs directly through the home of Pat DiRienzo. Like many houses in Regent Square, DiRienzo’s sits on a quiet, shady street where tufts of grass spring up between the bricks used to pave the roads.
“I like the neighborhood feel," DiRienzo said. "I like the fact that we have sidewalks. I like the fact that we still have brick streets here. We have a business district so that you can walk to things.”
Having lived in the neighborhood for 17 years, DiRienzo said she likes to give back to Regent Square. Now retired, she serves as a board member of the Wilkins School Community Center, and for the last 17 years has helped organize the neighborhood’s annual "Run Around the Square" race.
DiRienzo said her family taught her the importance of volunteering.
“I have an aunt, who’s almost 97 years old now, who is a force of nature," DiRienzo said. "She called herself a professional volunteer in her adult life. She didn’t have a paid job outside the home, but she was a full-time volunteer, so I saw that as a role model.”
DiRienzo said the "Run Around the Square" has been an important community-building event for the past 35 years.
“We have entertainers along the route. We have neighbors out cheering people on. We have festivities down in Frick Park at the end," DiRienzo said. "We have beer and hot dogs after the race, so that’s always a highlight -- beer and hot dogs at 9 a.m. in the morning.”
DiRienzo said she recently started volunteering at the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation as a docent, giving walking tours Downtown, “and that’s so much fun. I’ve learned so much about Pittsburgh, but I’ve had so much fun doing tours with both kids and adults.”
DiRienzo’s husband, Kip Kilpack, said his wife’s work for the community center and for "Run Around the Square" helps to make Regent Square a pleasant place to live.
“I think it’s part of the fabric of the community," Kilpack said. "I think it’s subtle, but it’s there.”
DiRienzo said she’s been volunteering for all of her adult life, and she plans to keep at it.
“I’ve been able to have a good education. I’ve been able to have good jobs. I live in a nice neighborhood," DiRienzo said. "You know, I’ve had a good life, and to me, I feel an obligation to somehow give back.”
For now, DiRienzo is focused on the next "Run Around the Square," which takes place Saturday, Aug. 26.