Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh served as an apt venue for the Mt. Lebanon Junior Women’s Club 22nd annual gala, as the March event benefited an organization for youngsters and their families: East End-based Jeremiah’s Place, which represents Pittsburgh’s only crisis nursery.
“We serve children from birth to 6 years old when their parents are experiencing all kinds of emergency needs,” executive director Lisa Perry explains. “It could be as serious as homelessness, fleeing domestic violence. Or it could be something that we think is as simple as going for a job interview and not having somebody to watch your child.”
She joined the three founders of Jeremiah’s Place – Eileen Sharbaugh, Dr. Tammy Murdock and Dr. Lynne Williams – in celebrating the nonprofit’s fifth anniversary in conjunction with the gala, with the theme “Color Your World.” “A family just needs to reach out to us,” Perry said. “There’s an intake process that allows us to make sure that we admit them properly and take care of their little ones effectively. Then they call when there’s an emergency. And when they call, we say yes.”
Because many of the Junior Women’s Club members are mothers, the choice of Jeremiah’s Place as a fundraising beneficiary represented a natural fit. “We have many women who are very fortunate in that we have strong support systems,” Lori Keener, club president, says. “And being able to support those who do not means a lot to us.”
Co-chairing the gala were club members Stephanie Kerby and Shanyn Winnowski, both of them also applauding the efforts of Jeremiah’s Place. “I think it’s very important that, as a community, we stand by our mothers and we support them. And we not only stand by them, but we give them quality, safe care,” Kerby says. “It’s a safe space for you to drop off your child in a world where we do have people dropping off kids to people who aren’t necessarily reliable.”
“There are people who don’t think they’re going to be in a situation where they have a crisis,” she says. “For me, I never know if I’m going to be in that situation. I don’t take it for granted to be able to have the things I have. So to know that J.P. is around in Pittsburgh is great.”