U R B A N H E R O E S
Geneva College at the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry serves non-traditional students. Our students are not your “typical” just-out-of-high-school variety, but usually come back to school after some life experience – sometimes a lot of life experience. We have students enroll who are in their 40s, some in their 50s and some who are even in their 60s! These students often help put their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, neighbor kids, and church youth through school. Then one day they decided, “Hey, it’s my turn” and off to school they went. As you can tell, these are not ordinary or typical students, thus the term “nontraditional.”
CUBM tries to provide all the support these students need, some of whom have been away from the books for forty years! During the course of counseling these students, Karla Threadgill Byrd, the executive director, and I would hear the life stories of these students and would say, “Their stories need to be published so others can be encouraged to do things later in life!’ After saying this for many years, we strategized how this could be done.
We knew there were and are hundreds, maybe even thousands of people who serve in our community day-in and day-out who receive no recognition. They make no headlines, they seek no glory, and they do not seek political office. They go to work, serve the poor, build their churches, raise their families, and keep others from making headlines, for all the wrong reasons. Their efforts are truly heroic and they are happy to serve incognito. We thought their stories need to be publicized and they needed to be honored as the true heroes of our community.
Then we decided not to limit the idea to our CUBM students, but to expand the effort to identify other worthy urban residents who had inspirational stories to tell. Finally, we landed on the concept for this project called Urban Heroes: Stories of Ordinary Pittsburgh Residents Who Do Extraordinary Things. A grant from the Multicultural Arts Initiative helped get the ball rolling.
The Urban Heroes are interviewed and the interview is then transcribed into a manuscript, which is published in book form. All the interviews, both the audio file and the transcript, can be found on the individual hero’s page. “The stories of the last class and this class read like a who’s who in our community,” Stanko noted. “Anyone looking for some good news just needs to read or listen to their stories and they will go away inspired to make their own mark in our community.”
Feel free to nominate your own heroes for inclusion in future books by using the application you can download from this site. Most importantly, get about the business of being a Hero yourself. Your community needs you and what’s more, it’s a rewarding way to live as you will see as you read the stories of both our 2013 class and 2010 class of Urban Heroes.
Karla Threadgill Byrd and John W. Stanko