John Wallace is a professor at the University of Pittsburgh and the senior pastor of Bible Center Church in Homewood. He is also an award-winning nonprofit leader recognized for his work with Homewood Children’s Village, Operation Better Block and the Oasis Project. John and his wife Cynthia have four children.
What upcoming events are you excited to attend?
At Pitt, I am teaching a new course on social entrepreneurship this fall that I am very excited about. I am also excited about the opening of the University of Pittsburgh’s Community Engagement Center on September 17.
At Bible Center Church, where I pastor, we are about to start a strategic planning process that should be a lot of fun!
Socially, I am looking forward to the grand opening of the new southern restaurant, Sugar and Smoke in Bloomfield.
Best part of your job?
I am privileged to marry my vocation, research and teaching, with my avocation, serving the people and neighborhood of Homewood through opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship.
How’s business at Everyday Café?
Everyday Café is a social enterprise owned and operated by my church, Bible Center. The “social” aspect of the business is doing pretty well. We are becoming recognized as a great place for people in Homewood and the broader community to work, eat, meet and greet. Financially, we continue to need more customers to realize a profit.
What is your long-term mission for Everyday Café?
Our mission is to meet Homewood’s need for a community “third space,” to provide a diverse educational and cultural venue for the region, to create a sustainable revenue stream to be reinvested in Homewood nonprofits, and to help catalyze the economic rebirth of the Homewood Avenue business district.
What other newer businesses in Homewood should we know about?
D&C Sandwich Shop, The Shop-Homewood, Natural Choice Barber Shop, 7 Senses, and everything in 7800 Susquehanna Street, including Thread International, Knotzland Bowties, BoXZY, Pitt’s Manufacturing Assistance Center and the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh.
How has the Homewood community changed over the years?
Over the years, Homewood has experienced both ups and downs. Although negative activity often dominates the news, Homewood is one of the city’s most resource-rich communities and is definitely on the upswing. I don’t think that people know that we are the home to a YMCA, YWCA, a branch of the Community College of Allegheny County, the internationally known Afro American Music Institute, Carnegie Library, the numerous businesses in 7800 Susquehanna Street and soon the University of Pittsburgh’s Community Engagement Center.
Was OpenStreetsPGH good for Homewood and if so, in what way?
In my opinion, OpenStreetsPGH was good for Homewood because it exposed a lot of folks from around the city to one of its greatest neighborhoods — Homewood!
Do you have particular issues that you rally around?
I am passionate about the three Es — education, employment and entrepreneurship — particularly for African American young people.
What is the one thing that would surprise Pittsburghers most about you?
That I’m from Homewood?! Probably not. People might be surprised to know that I am actually pretty introverted.
At what Pittsburgh restaurant do you always order dessert?
The Cheesecake Factory.
What is the biggest challenge you’ll face this week?
Finishing my syllabus for a new social entrepreneurship course!
What question do you wish we had asked?
Tell us about your family. On August 1st, I celebrated 31 years of marriage to the most amazing woman on the planet, with whom I have four babies.
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