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North Hills Monthly

Angels’ Place Helping Single Parents to Become Self-sufficient

Dec 30, 2014 12:07PM ● By Jill Cueni Cohen
In 1984, an organization was born that would change the lives of countless teenage parents and their children. Today, the mission of Angels’ Place, Inc. is to provide single parents who are low-income, full-time students with no-cost childcare and family support programs so that they can establish careers and become self-sufficient citizens.

Executive Director Beth Banas sees success stories come out of Angels’ Place on a regular basis. “Our first client is now a social worker who works for the University of Pittsburgh, and her child is in the Marines,” she said, adding that the program’s graduates are scattered throughout the country. “Some people move on with their lives, and some keep in touch with us.”

A nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, Angels’ Place currently runs three sites in Brookline, Swissvale and the North Side. “Our programs have a waiting list, so there is a need for the resource,” said Banas, noting that all three sites are operated on a $1.2 million budget. “Since we charge no fee from our clients, the responsibility lies with our agency to raise the funds to support the program.”

In addition to foundation grants and a small amount of government support, the majority of funding comes from private donors, organizations and community groups who appreciate and want to sustain the nonprofit’s mission. “Over the past 25 years, I’ve been amazed at the generosity of people who have found out about us, and in appreciation of our focus on the family and education and community, have decided to support us,” said Banas.

Donations of food and other items through diaper, paper, food, coat and toy drives keep the program going throughout the year. “In talking with people who call in, I’ve found that there is a great need in other areas of the country that is not being recognized and served,” said Banas. “We’re lucky to have three sites in Allegheny County, and we serve residents from other counties, too.”

The organization helps student parents of any age. “These are not your typical high school teens; they face a variety of challenges,” noted Banas. “Our parents have to be single, but it can be for any reason. They have to be enrolled in a full-time educational program. These are men and women who find themselves in situations where they need to complete their educations so they can sustain themselves. Income-wise, you have to meet our guidelines, but many students have scholarships or receive funding to attend school. We provide them with a support system.”

Founder Mary Winter counseled pregnant teens in the 1970s. “She saw that when people chose to keep their children, they became mired in a life of less opportunity and financial limitations because they could not continue their educations,” explained Banas. “She wanted people to have a viable opportunity to become educated and self-sufficient.”

Angels’ Place provides a series of support services, including a family support program with a specialist who helps parents get whatever they need to succeed. “The program offers assistance with practical needs like food, clothing and diapers, as well as tutoring and required classes in parenting, nutrition, child safety and life skills,” said Banas.

“In return for what we provide, they give back by volunteering,” she continued, adding that student parents must sign a contract and agree to volunteer for three hours a week. “The first hour is spent in a parent education class. The other two hours are spent helping with the upkeep of the program. Just like in a typical family/community setting, everyone has their part to do to make the program successful and sustainable.”  

To learn more about Angels’ Place, visit www.angelsplacepgh.org.