by Amanda Bateman
Pitt-Greensburg congratulates Brian Root, who has recently received the Chancellor’s Award for Staff for Excellence in Service to the Community. This honor is awarded by the University of Pittsburgh, not just the Greensburg campus. The award is given to “those whose performance consistently exceeds the standards and expectations set for their position. This award is intended to recognize those staff members whose commitment and performance has made a significant impact on the University.”
– What community service projects/groups are you a part of?
I’ve been involved in community service since junior high. Some of my more notable areas of involvement are with the Kiwanis Club, Habitat for Humanity, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Walk for a Cure, and the United Way. Some of my other favorite local nonprofits to volunteer with are the Westmoreland County Food Bank and Meals on Wheels.
– Which community service project/group is your favorite?
I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the Kiwanis Club. I’ve been involved in the Kiwanis family since I was a freshman in high school. I was in the Key Club for four years in high school and Circle K for three years in college. The Key Club at my high school (Reynolds High School) was my first true outlet for doing service in the community. The Kiwanis Club is the parent organization to both the Key Club and Circle K. I have history in the Kiwanis family that dates back almost 20 years.
However, I must say that Habitat for Humanity has presented me with so many wonderful service opportunities, as well. I have taken groups of students on alternative spring break trips to Florida, Tennessee and North and South Carolina. In addition, I’ll soon be embarking on a personal Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip to Romania in May. There’s something very special about helping construct a home with a family who will eventually be able to call it a home.
– Why do you participate in these groups?
I grew up in a single-parent house. My mom didn’t have a lot of money, and she had four kids. Therefore, my family was often the beneficiary of community programs ranging from the Salvation Army to our local church. My mom was on Welfare, got food from a local food pantry, and for several years, we lived in public housing – what many refer to as ‘the projects.’
One of the random memories I have from my childhood was courtesy of the Salvation Army’s “Coats for Kids” program. I remember walking through Hills Department Store with an adult volunteer who helped me pick out a coat and gloves. I didn’t quite understand the impact of that program until I grew older, but how awesome was it that I was receiving a coat and gloves because of the Salvation Army and a local group of volunteers.
Because I understand what it’s like to rely on charity, it really instilled in me the desire to give back to my community. I love the idea of giving back or paying it forward.
– What’s different about doing community service as a staff member versus doing community service as a student?
There’s not much difference really. Community service is the same regardless of your age and situation. As a student, there are numerous opportunities at your fingertips; but those opportunities don’t disappear as an adult. A lot of my service work is done in partnership with our students. I advise three service organizations here at Pitt-Greensburg. That makes service even more special to me, because oftentimes I am getting to do two things that I love at the same time – giving back to the community and engaging with my students.
Brian Root will be recognized at a reception on May 5 at the Chancellor’s Residence. His name will also be added to a plaque displayed in the William Pitt Union inscribed with the names of all recipients of the Chancellor’s Awards.