Current News & Events

July 24, 2017

2017 Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Wrap-Up

The 35th annual Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix (PVGP), presented by the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Foundation, concluded on Race Weekend (July 15-16) at Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park. Leading up to the weekend was 10 days of events that included car shows, parades, a gala, a new party in an airplane hangar, vintage races, and much more.

This year, several NHS Allegheny Valley School consumers attended PVGP events as charity ambassadors. They mingled at the Black Tie & Tailpipes Gala, sang the National Anthem, rode in race cars at Pitt-Race, and waved to the crowds as they participated in the race weekend Opening Ceremonies Parade. We are grateful to the ambassadors for representing NHS/AVS so well! The beautiful weather drew huge crowds to Schenley Park for Race Weekend. The park was filled with spectacular cars of all ages, makes and models – including numerous Camaros, the 2017 Marque of the Year. Spectators participated in activities designed for all ages, including the qualifying races on July 15 and the finals on July 16.

We are grateful to the many family members, friends, and employees who came out to Schenley Park to volunteer and sell PVGP merchandise. The sunny weather helped to make this weekend a huge success. THANK YOU to our army of volunteers!

The PVGP is a volunteer-led organization with more than 1,000 participants coming together to run the entire event from laying the race track, to collecting donations, to selling merchandise. The event brings race fans from around the world to Pittsburgh to experience this truly unique festival of vintage cars. We are grateful to all volunteers for their efforts to ensure the event runs smoothly, is enjoyable to the spectators, and is a huge success for the charities. Since its start in 1983, the PVGP has raised more than $4.75 million for its two charities - NHS Allegheny Valley School and the Autism Society of Pittsburgh.

Save the date for PVGP 2018: July 6 – 15, with Race Weekend on July 14 and 15. BMW will be the Marque of the Year in 2018!

For more about the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, visit

July 14, 2017

Congratulations, Jodi Savits, Recipient of the 2017 Voice Award!

Congratulations, Jodi Savits, Recipient of the 2017 Voice Award! Congratulations, Jodi Savits, Recipient of the 2017 Voice Award!

NHS congratulates Jodi Savits, program director of Fresh Start programs in Coatesville, PA for being selected by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to receive a 2017 Voice Award! Sponsored by SAMHSA, the Voice Awards program honors people in recovery and their family members who are community champions to improve the lives of people with mental illnesses and addictions. The Voice Awards also recognizes television and film productions that educate the public about mental health and/or addictions and showcase that recovery is real and possible. In 2017, the Voice Awards is spotlighting individuals and entertainment productions that provide hope and support to past and present service members who have faced mental health and addiction challenges.

Fresh Start in Coatesville offers an integrated service model serving veterans with serious mental health issues, homelessness, and substance abuse. Jodi’s team works with veterans to get them medically and psychologically ready for services including D&A counseling, mental health, primary care, and job placement. Perhaps the best testament to Jodi and why she deserves the Voice Award is a quote from a grateful veteran: “As veterans we don’t always know when we need help. We don’t always know where to get help or how to ask for it. Then when help comes to us we like to tell the help how best to help us. We talk over the help. But Jodi Savits waited me out. She waited until I was finally quiet and she never gave up and when I was able to let her help in she led me into one of my toughest missions...recovery.”

Jodi will proudly attend the 2017 Voice Awards on Wednesday, August 16 at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Los Angeles, CA. This event will bring together people from the entertainment industry, behavioral health community, and military and veteran community to celebrate increased awareness of mental health and addictions and the power of recovery.

July 14, 2017

Autism in Family Courts - What the Bench and Bar Need to Know

Autism in Family Courts—What the Bench and Bar Need to Know Congratulations to NHS Parent Board member Judge Kelly Wall, and Executive Vice President Karen Markle, on their recent publication in The Legal Intelligencer on the challenges of dealing with children with autism and families in the courts. Because there is not much information for the judges and other members of the courts on how to deal with someone with autism, this article is extremely timely, relevant, and valuable given the rise in cases presented.

Click here to read the entire article. The Legal Intelligencer is a highly respected publication in the legal field, and their publication is a significant step towards educating others on how to better manage these challenging cases.

July 14, 2017

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Celebrates 35 Years

The 35th Anniversary Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, presented by the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Foundation, kicked off in style this past weekend. Several NHS Allegheny Valley School ambassadors and other guests have attended events including:

  • Blacktie & Tailpipes Gala, Friday, July 7, Pittsburgh Field Club: Ambassadors Liz, Brandon, Ed and Joe, along with staff members Gert, Chris and Jim, greeted guests as they arrived at this grand event. The Ambassadors took photos with guests, admired the gorgeous vehicles on display, and enjoyed seeing everyone dressed to the nines. A photo of the four was featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s weekly SEEN column! A good time was had by all.
  • PVGP Historics at Pitt Race, Sunday, July 9, Pittsburgh International Race Complex: The Pittsburgh Campus Choir was thrilled to sing the National Anthem at Pitt Race on Sunday morning. NHS/AVS Ambassadors Brandon and Joe also loved their ride in a race car!

  • PVGP Receives Proclamation from Pittsburgh City Council, Tuesday, July 11: City Council member Corey O’Connor tweeted, “I was honored to present @PghVintageGP w/ a proclamation commending its 35 years of successful events, programming, & philanthropic efforts.” NHS/AVS ambassador Liz was on hand to accept the proclamation, along with the PVGP’s Dan DelBianco and NHS/AVS’s Dorothy Gordon.
    Photo caption:
    PVGP Ambassador Liz attended the Pittsburgh City Council meeting to receive a proclamation for the PVGP by City Councilman Corey O’Connor.  Liz, along with the PVGP’s Dan DelBianco and NHS/AVS’s Dorothy Gordon, are surrounded by members of Pittsburgh City Council.

  • Tune-Up at Atria’s, Wednesday, July 12, Atria’s at PNC Park:  This annual downtown party transforms Federal Street and the Clemente Bridge into a massive car show. Director of Facilities Management John Police had his 1973 Camaro on display where our crew gathered for a team photo. The 50th Anniversary of the Camaro is being celebrated during this year’s event.

  • Inaugural Passport to Elegance, Thursday, July 13, Voyager Jet Center:  Guests traveled back in time and around the globe to kick-off race weekend in high-style at this first-time event. Historic cars and airplanes were on display as guests mixed and mingled in a beautifully decorated airplane hangar at the Allegheny County Airport.

Watch for highlights from RACE WEEKEND next week!

NHS/AVS is grateful for the support of the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Association, whose mission is to hold a world-class vintage automotive race event for charity. Since 1983, this volunteer-driven event has raised more than $2 million for NHS Allegheny Valley School. The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix remains our country's largest vintage race event and the only one run on city streets.

July 6, 2017

One Individual at a Time

One Individual at a TimeOur social media campaign One Individual at a Time has begun. This month, we are focusing on Pantry for Pride, our school lunch program that provides food for those in need. To support this initiative we are asking staff to become NHS advocates. Word of mouth messages are much more important coming from people you know. We are asking that you start to share with your personal networks and follow us on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, and SNAPCHAT. Each week watch for live streaming and videos, interviews with colleagues and the people we serve.

Follow One Individual at a Time on:

Facebook@oneindividualatatime Instagram@oneindividualatatime
Twitter@IndividualTime SnapChat @individualtime
July 6, 2017

Honoring Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

On June 21, individuals and staff members across western PA celebrated The Longest Day, an initiative of the Alzheimer’s Association meant to build awareness about the challenges faced by those who are impacted by Alzheimer’s/Dementia, including their caregivers. On the summer solstice, NHS/AVS staff members were encouraged to wear purple and white, the colors designated to show support for those facing Alzheimer’s/Dementia. In and around western PA, the following activities took place:

  • Individuals at the Slippery Rock Program Center created and sent cards to their peers in the Memory Care Home, and participated in a walk-a-thon and bike-a-thon around the outdoor sensory area. Purple and white balloons were released by the individuals who attend the Senior Center. Consumers also released butterflies that they had raised. Butterflies signify endurance, hope, and life, a fitting tribute to those who are impacted by Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
  • Nearly $700 was raised for the Memory Care Program through fundraisers at several locations:
    • Individuals in the food preparation programs at the Zapp and Slippery Rock Program Centers baked, decorated, and labeled cookies and cupcakes.
    • Consumers, staff members, family members and friends purchased purple carnations that were sent to special people in their lives.
    • Supporters bought petals and wrote messages to honor someone who is impacted by Alzheimer’s/Dementia. The petals were used to create a huge flower at Patricia Hillman Miller Campus.
  • Consumers and staff members at the Kennedy and Zapp Program Centers held their second annual Walk With Me event. Consumers took turns carrying a flag while walking with a staff member through an outdoor path. During the walk, they discussed their favorite things and recalled memories from their past. Each participant planted a purple or white flower along the walking path.
July 6, 2017

NHS Philadelphia Celebrates Eid al-Fitr

NHS Philadelphia Celebrates Eid al-Fitr NHS Philadelphia Celebrates Eid al-Fitr "Thank you for celebrating all of the holidays," said Dr. Fathima Musthaq, child psychiatrist at the NHS outpatient clinic located in Mt. Airy, Philadelphia. NHS Philadelphia celebrated the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr on June 29 with a brunch for staff members. Eid is a festival marking a new month and the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. The holiday occurred on Monday June 26, but the Mt. Airy celebration was held a few days later to allow those who customarily take off after Ramadan to attend. Several dozen staff enjoyed each other's company while enjoying a Middle-Eastern buffet from Al-Dar restaurant. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, with the others being Faith, Prayer, Charity and Pilgrimage.

June 29, 2017

NHS/AVS Plays Ball in the Miracle League

When the Miracle League of Southwestern PA (MLSWPA) wrapped up its 2017 season on June 29, team members from NHS Allegheny Valley School (NHS/AVS) shared many memories of their baseball experience. NHS/AVS fielded ten teams of men and women ages 25 to 70+ in this 5th year of Miracle League participation. Assistant Western Region Director Roni Erath said, “These experiences support our commitment to provide opportunities and choices for NHS/AVS consumers to grow and function at their full potential as independently as possible.”

Miracle League provides the opportunity for children and adults with special needs to experience playing baseball in a league-based environment at The Pirates Charities Miracle League Field in Cranberry Township, PA. The field has a specially designed all-weather rubber turf field and is accessible for those with disabilities. There are no raised surfaces to interfere with crutches, walkers, or wheelchairs. “Attainment of exceptional athletic skill or the winning of games is secondary to the molding of future citizens.That’s of prime importance,” says Mike Wiseman, Miracle League board member and adult division coordinator.

A game consists of two innings in which all players bat each inning. Batters can hit off a tee or from a coach/pitcher. Special baseballs for those who are hearing impaired are available.There are no strikeouts or walks, players are never called out, and all players get to circle the bases to score a run each inning. “While the game is adapted to the players’ special needs, it still promotes a real baseball experience,” explains Sara Volk, an NHS/AVS house manager who serves as coach of the NHS/AVS Volcanoes. “Circling the bases in a wheelchair is a thrill. As team members hit and field balls they eagerly await a tally of runs on the scoreboard despite the fact that all games end in a tie on purpose.That way everybody wins.” The Miracle League also is a unique way to acquaint the community with the work of NHS/AVS as people stop by to cheer on the teams. Local media coverage helped to convey the enthusiasm of NHS/AVS consumer participants:

Carol: NHS/AVS staff member Christine Weekley, left, celebrates with NHS/AVS Grasshoppers team member Carol during the June 28 Miracle League baseball game in Cranberry. Staff member Lisa Pettner is behind them.

Joan: NHS/AVS team member Joan gives it her all at bat for the Volcanoes!

Anna: NHS/AVS Emeralds team member Anna rounds the bases heading for home in the June 28 game of the Miracle League Baseball League that closed out its season this week.

Christopher: NHS/AVS staff member Lauren Csoman accompanies NHS/AVS Volcanoes team member Christopher around the bases after his turn at bat in the June 28 Miracle League baseball game at the Pirates Charities Miracle League Field in Cranberry.

Mud Cats Jim Kronk coaches Mark as he comes up to bat.

Olivia waits for her pitch during the Hooks June 29th Miracle League game.

Brogan Jasek pitches to Kayla during the Hooks final game of Miracle League spring season.

June 29, 2017

NHS/AVS Night at the Pirates Game

Friends, family members, consumers, and staff members gathered in the 1927 and 1960 World Series Suites at PNC Park on June 13 to see the Pittsburgh Pirates take on the Colorado Rockies. A 5-2 victory made the evening even more exciting!

To kick off our 3rd annual event, guests cheered on Benjamin Pollon, son of NHS Foundation Board Member Dorothy Pollon, as he threw out the honorary first pitch. He was joined on the field by his parents, Dorothy and Neal, his sister Jill, NHS Foundation Board Member Chris Dunton (who was Ben’s catcher), NHS CEO Joe Martz, NHS/AVS Assistant Western Region Director Roni Erath and clients and staff members from Malcolm Group Home.

The gathering gave our supporters the opportunity to socialize and enjoy Pirates baseball in the beautiful PNC Park. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Capital Development Fund, helping to maintain and improve the services we provide to 850 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout Pennsylvania. 

We are grateful to the following underwriters who helped to make the event possible!

Capital Healthcare Solutions
Guardian Protection Services
HAR-KEL, INC. Medical Specialties
Lintons Food Service Management
Kathy and Joe Martz
Mike Mitchell and The Graham Company
Donna and Terry McNelis
Mongiovi & Son
The Pollon Family
Dan Taylor Interiors, Inc
June 20, 2017

Youth Day in Baton Rouge, LA

NHS Awarded as Employment First Provider On June 7, the Wraparound Agency in Baton Rouge helped sponsor the Louisiana Youth Day at the State Capitol Building. In support of Children’s Mental Health Awareness, this annual event raises awareness about mental health and other important issues affecting Louisiana youth. Children and families had the opportunity to interact with State Representatives, Senators and other officials to share ideas for improving the services, programs, and systems that serve youth.

<< Pictured are Carolina Jones, Program Director, and Ashley Bauer, Community Resource Specialist, of Baton Rouge Wraparound Agency

June 20, 2017

Fresh Start Gives Back to the Community

Fresh Start partnered with the Philadelphia Office of the Managing Director on Thursday, June 15 to repair and refresh an old community garden in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. The garden that was originally created about six years ago has been overgrown and in disrepair for about 3 years. Fresh Start, along with the city of Philadelphia, coordinated with partners, community organizations, and local residents to rebuild the community garden adjacent to Fresh Start recovery program located at 2868 Frankford Avenue. The garden now consists of 16 raised beds that will allow members of the community to not only help maintain the garden, but to also have full access to the organic vegetables of their assigned garden beds. Fresh Start staff and residents worked in the garden, hosted the BBQ, and interacted with neighbors in an effort to display NHS’s willingness to give back to the communities in which we operate. The day was a great success!

Fresh Start Gives Back to the Community
Fresh Start Gives Back to the Community
June 19, 2017

NHS Foundation’s 19th Annual Golf Classic

Mother Nature waited until 5 pm to end the NHS Foundation’s 19th Annual Golf Classic a little early with torrential rain, thunder, and lightening on Monday, June 19. However, that didn’t end the fun and goodwill from the attendees as they headed into the clubhouse for a delicious dinner and to bid on some great auction items. With more than 105 golfers playing a Scramble on a hot and humid day, the NHS Foundation raised over $277,000 in support of NHS programs and services. This year’s outing featured Fresh Start’s Recovery House Scholarship program, and how the Foundation subsidizes funding for an additional six months of housing and support beyond the state funded maximum of 90 days. Special guest Kelly B. shared her personal and inspiring journey of recovery and how the scholarship program helped her to get a job, become more independent, and to maintain her recovery efforts. We applaud and thank Kelly for her participation and for sharing her story with us. Special thanks to Board Chairman Mike Mitchell, former Chairman and CEO Senator Joe Rocks, members of the NHS Foundation and Parent Boards, CEO Joe Martz, and all the contributors for their incredible support over the past 19 years, helping to raise more than $3 million from this event for NHS programs and services!

June 16, 2017

Shelley Hendrix Autism Center Building Dedication

NHS welcomed more than 100 community members, dignitaries, and stakeholders in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to celebrate the building dedication ceremony of its NHS Autism Center to Shelley Hendrix on May 18. The ceremony featured a traditional Louisiana crawfish boil and a fais do-do, as NHS honored Shelley and her children, Liam and Mairin.

Shelley Hendrix has been an advocate for autism since her son’s diagnosis in 1999, and has shared her personal story with Autism and its effects on her family in numerous publications and media outlets around the country including USA Today, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and CNN, and has served on an advisory panel for the U.S. Department of Defense Autism Spectrum Disorder Research Program. As a parent with a child who has autism, Shelley understands first-hand the challenges faced by families who are looking for hope and support. Shelley worked closely with NHS to open the NHS Autism Center, which began services in March. The NHS Shelley Hendrix Autism Center offers a special education school for students ages 5-21, ABA (applied behavioral analysis), specialized therapy services, and a kindergarten readiness program for children ages 3-5 called “Bee Me.”

Congratulations, Shelley, for this well-deserved recognition, and the Education and Autism Team on a successful event!