The Pittsburgh area needs 4,000 volunteers to read to, mentor and counsel schoolchildren, and employers can make it easy for their workers and retirees to join the ranks, community leaders said Wednesday.
First lady Michelle Obama has repeatedly called for volunteers, and the United Way set a national target of attracting 1 million people to service in the next several years. The Pittsburgh area's fair share is 4,000 volunteers.
Have a few hours a year, or a few hours a week? There's a role for you, whether it is reading to elementary school students, mentoring a sixth-grader, or being an "educational champion" maintaining contact with a high school student, said Bob Nelkin, president of the United Way of Allegheny County, which is monitoring the effort.
You need only dial the United Way's help line, 211, to find your place.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said he volunteers at Pittsburgh Allegheny K-5 and benefited from mentoring relationships when growing up.
"Unfortunately, many young people today, in our city, our county and our country, don't have that opportunity," he said.
He said the city allows its employees to take paid time off to volunteer for schools.
Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard said they are asking current workers and retirees to commit time to students.
U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton, chair of the Youth Futures Commission, said that panel is spearheading the push for volunteers.
Volunteers initially will be steered to the Pittsburgh, McKeesport, Cornell, Steel Valley, Woodland Hills and Highlands school districts.