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The Evolution of Mt. Oliver City/St. Clair Community Group: A Journey of Community Engagement

The Hilltop Alliance is bringing back our Hilltop Summit in 2024 on March 19th at Alla Famiglia on E Warrington Ave. This annual event brings us together with the eleven community-based organizations we are comprised of to reflect on the accomplishments of the past year. This week, we are highlighting the community engagement efforts of the Mt. Oliver City/St. Clair Community Group


Since its inception in 1978, the Mt. Oliver City/St. Clair Community Group has been a beacon of unity and activism for the residents of Mt. Oliver City and St. Clair. Originating as part of the Mt. Oliver Pittsburgh Action Coalition (MOPAC), the group emerged from the shared determination of local residents to enhance the quality of life in its neighborhoods. Board members included Bob Weid and Liz Healey. Central to their efforts is the mission statement: to provide a platform for community engagement, create, maintain, and improve community assets, and advocate and liaise with the City of Pittsburgh for residents of the Mt. Oliver City and St. Clair neighborhoods.

In the early years, monthly meetings were held at the historic St. Joseph's Convent, serving as a forum for neighbors to discuss pressing issues and collaborate on solutions. These gatherings fostered a strong sense of camaraderie and civic responsibility among participants, laying the foundation for future endeavors.

In 1987, a significant milestone was reached when the group joined forces with the Arlington Civic Council, amplifying its voice and expanding its reach within the community. For over a decade, they worked tirelessly alongside fellow members, contributing to various initiatives aimed at improving neighborhood infrastructure, advocating for better services, and fostering a sense of belonging among residents. The year 1999 marked another pivotal moment when members made the strategic decision to establish their own block watch, signaling a shift towards more localized and targeted community engagement efforts. By 2004, this initiative had evolved into the Mt. Oliver City/St. Clair Community Group, a testament to their commitment to collaborative action and positive change. With a renewed focus on community building and empowerment, they continued to organize regular meetings and spearhead initiatives aimed at addressing pressing issues such as safety, beautification, and civic pride. One of the their proudest achievements came in 2019 when they became a Registered Community Organization with the City of Pittsburgh, becoming a recognized and influential voice in local governance. This milestone provided them with greater resources and opportunities to effect meaningful change.

Flower garden at the Hilltop Urban Farm in Mt. Oliver City

Throughout the years, the Mt. Oliver City/St. Clair Community Group has remained steadfast in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all residents. From organizing bi-monthly meetings at the beloved Ormsby Ave Cafe to coordinating multiple trash pickups and participating in the annual Garbage Olympics, the group continues to lead by example, demonstrating the power of collective action and community spirit. With stalwart members such as Bob Weid, Patti Stewart, and Suzanne Photos, alongside an influx of new residents who share our passion, the group has seen multiple generations of activism within its community.

The Mt. Oliver City/St. Clair Community Group is committed to building a stronger, more vibrant community where every voice is heard, and every individual is valued. It will continue to work towards a brighter tomorrow for Mt. Oliver City and St. Clair, guided by the principles of unity, resilience, and community that have defined them from the very beginning.

Written by Mt. Oliver City/St. Clair Community Group Board Member Jamie Pierson

Edited for article by Rain McCoy

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