Agency of the Month-Human Resources - Carnegie Mellon University

Agency of the Month

(Agency Code 1315188)UW Button 2013

The Center of Life (COL) is a faith based community empowerment organization and for the last eleven years has been instrumental in bringing numerous resources to Hazelwood. The mission of COL is to provide families and youth with the life skills, education, training, and resources necessary to be strong and to make their communities strong.

While COL is active in a variety of areas, programs at Center of Life have been focused on providing families with options on how to engage their educational and economic destinies. Music and arts education through the KRUNK Movement and COL Jazz have been the backbone of programming. The lessons learned from supporting youth development in the arts have developed into a cutting-edge family empowerment program called Fusion, which enables parents and guardians to participate in after school academic help with their children. As families have become the leaders in their children’s educational development through Fusion; the Center of Life has also brought forth a mentoring program, Crossover, which uses sports to teach life lessons for children from 1st grade through high school graduation.

Ralph VituccioIn 2013, Center of Life began a partnership with CMU. The first project of this partnership is the creation of a documentary with support from Professor Ralph Vituccio and the Entertainment Technology Center. This documentary project will focus on capturing the food heritage of Hazelwood and how the community copes with its current status as a food desert. In former steel industry towns, when mills, schools, and businesses are removed from the community, access to healthy food dwindles as well.  Resources are no longer available to Hazelwood residents through popular outlets such as grocery stores, restaurants, and family-owned establishments. However, Hazelwood is taking action.  Through education and community outreach they are working to address these issues, and several resident-led options have developed. This documentary project will showcase three areas in which Hazelwood has created its own access to food: the community urban garden; the Fishes & Loaves enterprise; and Hazelwood resident gardens. Additionally, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank will be highlighted as an access point for food options. The documentary will also feature discussion around future food outlets with residents and how it relates to the changing economic future of Hazelwood. Ten high school students from Hazelwood will embark on this project under supervision of Professor Vituccio and a professional filmmaker.  The students will gain experience in research and preparation, as well as community engagement. Together, the Center of Life and CMU are intent on providing new opportunities to engage and empower young people, help them find their voice in the community, and to tell their story as a resident of Hazelwood on important issues.

If you would like to support the Center of Life during CMU’s United Way campaign, make your pledge using agency code 1315188 to designate your gift. If you have an agency story you’d like to share, please contact Megan Worbs at Thank you for your support of United Way and our region.