Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

His Weekend 'Day' Job Allows Good Samaritan to Lend Hand

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

His Weekend 'Day' Job Allows Good Samaritan to Lend Hand

Article excerpt

Cherece Glaze, on a waiting list for an apartment, had days to vacate the McKeesport shelter where she was living. The landlord decided not to renew the lease with the agency that had placed her.

With the deadline looming, her caseworker scratched out a vacancy at Allegheny Dwellings, a public housing complex in Fineview that slowly is emptying for redevelopment. She transitioned from one tenuous lodging to another, but she had at least a year to worry about what was next.

One humid morning, she and her partner, Quashawn Abram, got a hand from total strangers, Jonathan Potter and his friend, Rachel Adler, who arrived in McKeesport in a rental truck. An hour later, in Fineview, the four unloaded a love seat, two chairs, a mattress, box springs, a dresser, a small table and boxes and bags of belongings up two flights of steps.

"Whew," Ms. Glaze said, wiping her face. "What a blessing this is."

"Do you have, like, a name?" Mr. Abram asked Mr. Potter.

"We're Pittsburgh Good Deeds," he answered.

Unlike most people, Mr. Potter makes his living on weekends. He teaches paragliding. He spends his weekdays helping people move, installing water filters, patching roofs, pet sitting, making home repairs and, in one instance, he picked up a partygoer at 2 a.m. and drove him safely home.

He does these things for strangers for free.

Most people would wonder, What's the catch? What's too good to be true usually isn't.

"I get joy from it," he said. "I made a New Year's resolution in 2016 to say 'yes' to anyone who asked for help."

With Pittsburgh Good Deeds, he has expanded on that resolve.

It started with a post

Last summer, he posted this notice on Reddit Pittsburgh: "I need your help. This world is hurting so bad for pure love, without ulterior motives. Let's prove how Pittsburgh is a city of camaraderie and good, down-to-earth folks. If you're willing to help, please message me [pghgooddeeds@gmail.com] with your email address and any tasks you feel comfortable doing for those in need."

People came out of the woodwork.

He has assembled 40-50 volunteers, on all of whom he said he has run background checks. They specified days and times they are available, their skills and the labor they are willing to do.

"A guy who owns a mechanic's shop in Dormont messaged me to be part of it. He has done thousands of dollars in car repairs" for free.

"I try to give back a little," said Dave Gibbs of Gibbs Auto Service. "Some of these cars are pretty rough, folks just trying to make it through the next inspection."

Mr. Potter doesn't check backgrounds of people who ask for help, he said. "I trust my gut. But if a volunteer wants me to go with them, I do."

So far, no good deed has gone bad, he said, and no one has tried to get for free what they could afford. …

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