Mon Valley View - Helping Hands
Community groups strong in the Mon Valley
By David Titmus


It might look like a typical storage facility from the outside, but inside it's all heart.  
The Monongahela area's food bank and the Salvation Army's Mon Valley service center share space inside a
storage business along Gregg Street.
The food bank and Salvation Army have been located along the small side street for the past two years.  A
spirited and committed group of volunteers work at the center - picking up donations, running out orders and
making sure as many requests as possible go fulfilled.
"You just hear so many stories and sometimes you come out of here overwhelmed," says Rosemary Monich,
human services secretary for the service center.  
Rosemary and her husband Ron, are just part of the group of more than two dozen local residents who make
the center work.  The service center - which has no paid employees - provides for Monongahela, New Eagle,
and Finleyville areas as well as a dozen other Mon Valley Communities.
Salvation Army service extension programs are available where no established corps community center exist.  
The centers work with committees of local residents to identify and meet community needs, and to network
with statewide and interstate Salvation Army programs.
The services range from medical and dental assistance to sending children to summer camp or supplying
gasoline, food, and clothing to the needy.
Tack a local food bank onto that list and the center truly can handle all sorts of needs.
The Salvation Army and food bank share space with Ashcraft Storage.  George Ashcraft allows the community
services to work from his building and store food and supplies on the property.
"George has graciously let us be here," says Ron, chairman of the food bank's board.  "This is his business
here, he didn't have to let us use this room, but he wants to help out."
And that's a common theme the Monichs have come across.
"There are a lot of good people around here," Ron says.  "There's support."
Rosemary and Ron have been working for the communities for more than three decades and got their start,
innocently enough, by driving Sunday School bus routes for Library Baptist Church.
It was the early 1980's and a hard time for many of the steelworking families in Pittsburgh and the Mon
Valley.
"Those Reagan years were really hard for a lot of people, and we heard a lot of stories," Rosemary says.  "So
when they started asking individuals instead of the government to pass out food, we did that."
And they've never looked back.  Rosemary began working with the Salvation Army, helping organize its
holiday toy drives.  The couple also work with the Finleyville Food Pantry.  Having both the local Salvation
Army and food bank in the same building means the group can satisfy more than just one need - such as
residents who've fallen behind on utility bills.
Rosemary says that a recent state ordinance signed by the governor now allows utility companies to shut off
services if a second bill is due.
"We've heard from people living without utilities and that's unfair," she says. "There are times when
situations just get beyond control and people will fall a little behind."
However, Rosemary says the center tries its best to help and local churches also will pitch in and try to help
cover the costs of people in need.  
Others who help include Ringgold High School's Interact Club, which holds toy and food drives each year that
are a godsend.
"They're such an active group," she says.
The center always is looking for new members and it's especially trying to recruit volunteers from the
California area to help on the distribution end of things.
Rosemary says they've also begun looking for a new location.
"We'd really like to get a place of our own.  We get a lot of calls for things that we can't take because of
space."
They've already secured a $7,000 grant through Sen. Barry Stout's office that could be used toward a new
building or piece of property.