Frequently Asked Questions - Pittsburgh

While it is not easy surviving on the AmeriCorps stipend in ANY part of the country it may be a little easier here in Pittsburgh due to our low cost of living.  Last year we were named 'Most Livable City' – for the third time!  And it was largely due to the cost of living here.  Housing is affordable, we have a good bus system, there are numerous cultural events within reach and we have an extensive public parks system within the City.  For more information on the area please go to:

http://pittsburgh.about.com/od/facts/Pittsburgh_Facts_Statistics.htm

Our program does not provide housing.  However, in the past the members that relocate from out of state have used Craigslist.org or an apartment guide to find housing.  Members have also taken over apartments of exiting members. If members are interested in a fellow-NHC Pittsburgh roommate, they can let the Program Director know and she will share email addresses and contact information so they can correspond.

The majority of our members come from outside the Greater Pittsburgh area – and many from out of state.  They have backgrounds in Biology, Social Work, Education, Medicine, Public Health – and we have even had Art Therapists and Theatre majors.  Our broad range of sites allows people from all over the country to come together to serve and build relationships that will influence their next career moves.  Even though you may be serving at one particular site, you will be impacted by all of the opportunities through interactions with each other.  Members will also be exposed to numerous professionals depending on the site where they serve.  Members may interact with case managers, physicians, nurses, health educators, program coordinators, nutritionists, social workers, etc. The clients a member may serve can be as diverse as the population of the planet. 

Some host sites request a single member while others can support multiple placements. There are always ongoing service opportunities for the entire group to get together through monthly meetings, service projects, social events and committee responsibilities which require members to interact on a regular basis.  We believe that the relationships created through service have a significant impact on members’ year of service and on their future career goals.  Therefore, the NHC Pittsburgh promotes group experiences and activities through the year.

Agreements with host sites are based on the expectation that members will serve for the entire contracted number of weeks (46 weeks).  Some of our programs also have extensive summer obligations requiring members’ services.  If a member is uncertain if they can complete their term of service, it should be addressed during their site interviews and before service begins.  PHC members are expected to serve a full-term of service (i.e. 46 weeks/1700 hours).  Members who do not finish their full term of service impact PHC and their host site negatively.  In addition the member is impacted financially since the member will not receive their living allowance once they exit the program.  A member that does not complete their 1700 service hours is not eligible to receive their education award.

NHC Pittsburgh permits members to work outside of their normal service hours and/or attend classes during their year of service as long as it does not interfere with their service requirements. However, members are very busy with service, meetings, trainings, committees, and events. This makes it very hard to work or attend classes at the same time. Although it is not impossible to work or attend classes while serving, your commitment to the program requires your attendance at NHC Pittsburgh meetings/events/trainings. The commitment is roughly 40 hours per week for service at your host site.

Many PHC members require time off for graduate school interviews and other commitments.  PHC provides members with 15 personal days (to be used for sick, vacation, or bereavement) and 10 federal holidays during the service year. Partner sites observe various other holidays or closings, and members may accrue optional volunteer/service hours in lieu of those days off to prevent falling behind in hours.

Agencies submit applications to NHC Pittsburgh so that they can have a member serve at their site.  As a part of this application, partner agencies must identify a mentor from their site for the NHC Pittsburgh member that they are requesting. Members are assigned site mentors to help them develop professionally and personally throughout their service year.  Mentors provide members with opportunities, assistance, and feedback.  Site mentors also supervise members, oversee their day-to-day activities, and sign off on member timesheets.

Each service description will state the hours of service for the particular site. However flexibility is key for the program, site, and member. Some sites have activities, classes, etc, that occur some evenings and/or weekends. Our monthly service activity is usually the 1st Friday of the month (with some weekends required).   We also meet as a group for training at least once a month – usually the 3rd Wednesday of the month.  Members are expected to serve around 40 hours at their site each week in order to complete the 1700 hours within the 46 week term. The site is also expected to provide the member with 40 hours of service weekly.

The term of service is 46 weeks in length. Service hours vary but are typically 8:30am to 5:00pm and may require evening and weekend service. The term of service typically begins late August/early September and ends mid July of the following year.