Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Peggy Neal April 14, 1940 - March 8, 2015 Longtime and Passionate Volunteer at Homeless Children's Education Fund

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Peggy Neal April 14, 1940 - March 8, 2015 Longtime and Passionate Volunteer at Homeless Children's Education Fund

Article excerpt

Peggy Neal was a "100-pound giant," Joseph Lagana said of the longtime volunteer at the Homeless Children's Education Fund. "She was a very powerful, intense and focused individual," he said.

Mr. Lagana is founder and chief executive of the nonprofit agency that provides educational assistance for children who are living in shelters or who lack a permanent address.

Mrs. Neal, a Downtown resident who died March 8 at 74, will be honored by Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday for her contributions to the community. Council President Bruce Kraus will introduce a resolution making May 5 "Peggy Neal Day" in the city.

"She was passionate about supporting the kids we serve," said the fund's executive director, Bill Wolfe. Mr. Wolfe and Mr. Lagana both said they relied on Mrs. Neal, a former English teacher, to proofread and to improve all education fund documents. "I would run everything I wrote by her," Mr. Lagana said.

The Homeless Children's Education Fund has fashioned its own tribute to Mrs. Neal. Future presentations of the fund's "Unsung Hero" award will be made in her memory, Mr. Lagana said.

The fund, based in Pittsburgh's Strip District, provides a variety of aid for children in shelters or other temporary housing. That assistance includes access to computers, software, books and tutoring at special learning centers. The fund also provides backpacks and school supplies.

Mr. Lagana was a longtime friend of Mrs. Neal's husband, Donn. When the couple returned to Pittsburgh a decade ago, both were looking for community service opportunities, and Mr. Lagana suggested she would find interesting challenges at the education fund. "She realized that the children's needs were staggering, and she could be involved in something that would make a difference," Mr. Neal said.

"Ultimately, she built our first website, giving us an identity on the Web," Mr. Lagana said. "We had a lot of young volunteers and employees, and Peggy served as a maturing agent in the organization, giving guidance in a low-key, friendly manner. …

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