One Monday, I visited Cafe io. Dining alone, I grabbed a high-top table in the back, and watched the packed house around me. It’s common to see Chef Jeff Iovino greeting his customers, and this evening was no different. I listened as one patron expressed surprise at all the folks who came to dine on a Monday night. Jeff let him know this was no accident. The restaurant was running a promotion night; they would be donating a portion of all proceeds to a sports association. Many of those dining were there in support.
Jeff eventually made his way to my table. Knowing that Cafe io had also sponsored a promotion in January that benefited the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, I asked him why he did such things. His answer was unexpectedly profound: “it’s a way to define who and what we are.” He told me about all the support he’d received from so many during the hard times of the Great Recession, when the restaurant industry was taking a hit and his restaurant had to reinvent itself to survive. He was delighted to be in a place where he could now give back, and these charitable promotions are a way he can use his talent to do it.
It made me think of all the other folks in Mt. Lebanon who are using their unique talents to help worthy causes. Did you know that Chris Roth of Steel City Ballroom participates in Dancing with the Celebrities of Pittsburgh? He’s using his passion for dance to benefit the Kiwanis Club of Pittsburgh Foundation and the Catholic Charities Free Health Care Center (CCFHCC). This year, his partner is Annette Fetchko of the CCFHCC, and he is teaching her the Bolero. Being a member of one of our municipal boards, I know there are many other Mt. Lebonites who are volunteering their time to use of their skill sets, too. Whether the passion is for history or the environment or books, many of us have found a place on a board that can make use of it.
Without a doubt, this spirit of volunteerism is defining who and what we are as Mt. Lebanon.