During the height of the pandemic, Chris Heck met some of the most fascinating people in Mt. Lebanon. He spent a couple of hours each day dropping off groceries and other necessities to those in need through Neighborhood Aid, a group of Mt. Lebanon and Dormont volunteers and municipal staff that assisted residents with pandemic-related issues. But he took it a step further: He spent time talking to people in the community who were isolated. He made friends and helped them through the difficult time.
“I looked at myself and I said, ‘I’m fortunate to have time, the economic wherewithal and family and friends who support me. There are individuals in our community that have none of that. So, why not help? I jumped right in and did what I could,” said Heck, of Oxford Boulevard.
For his volunteerism efforts across the community and beyond, the Mt. Lebanon Community Relations Board chose Heck to receive its 2021 Community Service Award.
Volunteerism was ingrained in Heck from a young age. He would ride along in the car in New Jersey, where he grew up, as his dad drove food from a bakery to a local convent to help those in need. “My dad drilled it into us: You love thy neighbor, no matter what,” he said.
Growing up, he noticed a trend in those who were successful around him. They had self-discipline and were involved in their communities. So, he joined the Coast Guard to work on self-discipline, and found ways to get involved in the community.
Heck moved to Mt. Lebanon in 1989. For him, the best way to get involved in the community was to first identify his interests and then find ways to volunteer in those areas. Heck, a father of four who has spent 27 years working with companies across the Pittsburgh region at senior executive levels and currently works as president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce, identified his passions as advocating for kids, economic development and helping the less fortunate.
His first volunteer effort in Lebo tied to his passion to help kids. He helped coach sports and joined the municipality’s Sports Advisory Board. He served on the Economic Development Council (EDC), joined the board of the Mt. Lebanon Partnership and also serves as chair of the Allegheny County Airport Authority Foundation.
“Chris Heck has been an invaluable member of our community development efforts as both an appointed member of the EDC and as a board member of the Mt. Lebanon Partnership,” said Eric Milliron, Mt. Lebanon’s commercial districts manager. “As a member of the EDC, Chris has provided leadership by bringing his extensive experience in economic development back to Mt. Lebanon. As a Mt. Lebanon Partnership board member, Chris brings not only economic development acumen, but passion for community. The Partnership is our township’s recognized Main Street program organization, and Chris dedicates countless hours to planning and event execution. Without Chris, our efforts would not be as effective and fruitful.”
His life is admittedly busy, but Heck said he always finds a way to make time to give back. It’s always gratifying. “What better feeling can you have than helping someone who is less fortunate?”