“In Lawrenceville, there is a sense of community like no other. People volunteer to clean up and plant gardens, and everyone has each other’s back.”
At work and at home, community relationships are important to Deirdre Kane. In her role at Highmark, she produces brochures and other materials to help the insurer’s members and prospective clients understand health insurance packages. But her appreciation for working there has come from her engagement with co-workers. She’s co-captain of Highmark’s corporate rowing team, which competes in the annual Head of the Ohio and Heinz Challenge races along the region’s rivers. She’s also active in its community investment programs as a sixth-grade mentor, a volunteer with an in-school career day with Junior Achievement of Southwestern Pennsylvania and with The Highmark Caring Place, a center for grieving children and their families.
Her commitment to community shines even more so near her home in Lawrenceville where she stewards two neighborhood gardens and is attracting kids who live on a nearby alley. “They watched us with curiosity at first, and now they are right in there with us helping to weed and water on Sundays and Wednesdays.” Deirdre’s gardening is part of her overarching work as a board member of Lawrenceville United, a group of residents who roll up their sleeves for community beautification and development projects, including tree plantings, neighborhood clean-ups and block watches and garden tours. She is also involved in with the group’s initiative that allows residents the opportunity to buy a vacant lot next to their homes at a steep discount, in order to improve it and the overall neighborhood.
Community investment is worth it to sustain responsible growth while preserving character, Deirdre says. But it’s also what gives a neighborhood a sense of belonging. One of her favorite places for that comfort is breakfast at Maura Mori’s Café, which is welcoming to business people, factory workers and anyone who lives or works nearby.