Working together toward a common goal

The 5,500-square-foot space is large enough that when needed, The Shop has stepped up to take overflow from the Carnegie Library when their meeting rooms and auditorium are booked. Paulisick said he catches up with the library branch manager from time to time to “make sure everyone is staying in sync.”

“Our role is to continue to be a supporting actor to the dynamic and established organizations that exist here,” Paulisick said.

The Carnegie Library of Homewood has been a main artery and a gem in the neighborhood for more than a century.

When construction was completed in 1910, it was considered one of the best libraries in the country built by Andrew Carnegie. It was also the last library he built in Pittsburgh.

“The library has been a vital part of this community since it opened, really,” said Denise Graham, the library branch manager in Homewood.

Graham grew up in Homewood and she spent so much time at the library that the head librarian convinced her to pursue an education in library science. She has been a Carnegie Library employee for 40 years, and at the Homewood branch for 14.

Denise Graham at the Carnegie Library, where she has worked for 40 years. Her favorite authors include Nora Roberts, John Grisham and Stephen King. Photo by Martha Rial.

What’s different about the Homewood branch compared to other libraries where Graham has worked? The people.

“When I got back to Homewood, we had a community meeting and I said my door is always open. And people have taken me up on that, even just to peek their head in and say hi,” Graham says. “There is no hesitation. If they see something wrong, or they think we should be doing something, they don’t hesitate to let me know.”

Mary Savage, Homewood’s avid gardener and tender of vacant lots, is one of those people.

Savage lives just a couple of blocks from the library, and she worked there for 37 years as the community relations specialist. It was during her walks to and from the library that she felt inclined to begin tending the vacant lots and planting gardens in the area.

Mary Savage, age 87, pulls weeds in a community flower garden along Frankstown Avenue in Homewood. Photo by Martha Rial.

Throughout the seasons, different organizations volunteer once or twice a year. But like Graham tending to the library or Wallace overseeing the meaningful space that is Everyday Café or Paulisick founding The Shop, Savage has been a constant caretaker in her community.

“A lot of people think you put the seeds down and let it go and that’s it,” Savage says. “They think, ‘Oh, I helped out,’ but they don’t come back.”

To make beautiful things really thrive, she says, “You need to maintain it all the way through.”

Join us in Homewood on August 18 and 19 for a neighborhood celebration hosted by residents, artists, business owners and community members. Learn more about the community-based festivities here.