"There’s a river of energy here in the city. Every day when I step outside, I’m re-invigorated by it all."
Michele Margittai appreciates every aspect of city living, from the constant flow of energy and people passing by her door every day to the Catholic nun whose backyard garden borders Michele’s to the down-to-earth shopkeepers who know her name.
When Michele and her architect husband, Peter, were deciding where to live, they were interested in location and housing stock, but also in the environment in which they would raise their kids. “We wanted our children to live among and appreciate people who are different than them.” For the Margittais, diversity comes in many forms, including the wide age range among South Side residents, and the individuals served by the Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community, of which they are part. The community offers fellowship to many people, including those who are in recovery or homeless.
She’s passionate about public education for their children Sophia, 11, and Nico, 8, and is an active member of their Pittsburgh Public Schools and Propel Charter School parent teacher organizations, often devising incentives to increase parent engagement in the education process. “If they can’t come to a meeting, they can trim cereal box tops as a fundraiser. We give them a way to get involved.” Michele also cites The Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program as an incredible bonus for families living in the city.
As the former director of resource development at Veterans Leadership Program, Michele was tenacious in helping veterans transition back into civilian life and raising funds and public awareness around the importance of those efforts. Following a program-wide reorganization, she has been involved in consulting to other nonprofits.
Michele enjoys watching Nico and Sophia’s softball and baseball games at South Side Park on the Slopes, with the city skyline as a backdrop. The family also enjoys scootering on trails, including the South Side Riverfront Trail.
People often ask how the family tolerates the weekly influx of college students frequenting the neighborhood's many bars. Michele and a group of residents know the codes of conduct of each university and work with city authorities to contain rowdiness. On the plus side? “We have four responsible young women who are college students living a few doors away, so we always have babysitters available.” And the bars and eateries aren’t just for students. The Margittais are regulars at Dish Osteria and Bar, and Peter belongs to “Pittsburgh Pops,” a group of South Side Dads who get together at local pubs once a month.