Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hope from a Distance College Student Keeps Up Her Dedication to Volunteer Center

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hope from a Distance College Student Keeps Up Her Dedication to Volunteer Center

Article excerpt

Juliana Kochis is attending Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. - 300 miles from Ambridge's Center for Hope and the people it helps. But through the work she did while attending Montour High School, she is still benefiting the center.

Ms. Kochis, 18, is one of seven finalists for Most Outstanding Volunteer of the Year in the 2014 Jefferson Awards for Public Service. The winner, to be announced at an awards ceremony Monday, will represent Western Pennsylvania at the national Jefferson Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., this summer. The program is administered locally by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette with sponsorship by Highmark and BNY Mellon.

Henderson Brothers will donate $1,000 to the Center for Hope on Ms. Kochis' behalf.

Her father, the Rev. Michael Kochis, a pastor at St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the South Side, nominated her for the award because her contribution to the Center for Hope was twofold: She organized programs and events for the center but also spurred people at her own church to volunteer there, linking the two organizations in a way that does not hinge on her presence.

"People are hesitant to get involved in projects that are outside of their comfort zone. ... It's a tremendous way to live the Gospel and help people, and we've benefited from it as much as any of the families from the Center," he said. "She showed to the younger people in particular that you don't have to wait until an adult does something to help ... you can't endow a medical clinic, but there are things you can do."

Ms. Kochis, of Kennedy, was in middle school when as a leadership project she collected supplies for a homeless shelter. She dropped off the items in person, and when she saw the level of need there, things fell into place: She wanted to help people, and she wanted to do it on a large scale.

Founded in 2004 by the Fellowship United Methodist Church of Ambridge and Western Pennsylvania United Methodist Conference Center in Cranberry, the faith-based Center for Hope serves the low- income population of Ambridge, promoting education, job-readiness training and other skills-based activities that allow youth and adults to develop confidence and the ability to care for themselves and their families. …

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