ReClaim South Ambassadors

The Ambassadors


Cara Jette

A Web Developer by day and future community leader by night. Cara is originally from Haverhill, MA. She joined ReClaim South in order to help improve her current neighborhood. Her favorite part of Allentown is her peaceful street with amazing views of the city. Click here to learn more about her project, The Historic Knoxville Incline Trail Entrance.


Natalie Thomas

A lifelong resident of Beltzhoover, Natalie took the initiative to start the “Positive Effect Garden”  across the street from her house. During her time in the ReClaim South program, she hopes to learn more about gardening and continue to encourage the creative do-gooding of the neighborhood kids. Click here to learn more about her project, The Beltzhoover Unified Positive Effect Garden.

Gordon Hodnett

For nearly 50 years, Gordon has lived in Beltzhoover, and he can vividly recount how the community used to be a thriving, active place. Today, there are less people and more vacancy and his favorite spot is his back porch and enjoys walking around McKinley Park. Through the program he wants to grow green things to beautify his block. Click here to learn more about his project, The Garden on Gearing.


Linda Faye Piso

Like a true Pittsburgher, Linda left for a number of years, only to boomerang back to the ‘burgh. She is excited to see her Library being more active and plans to partner with them to create a community garden. Her hope is that it will bring together different groups of neighbors (including her newest neighbors from Bhutan) together to socialize, work and eat together. Click here to learn more about her project, the 30/32 Grape Street Community Garden.

Cheryl Ruffin

As a Pastor at St. Paul AME, Cheryl is already dedicated to the enhancement on her neighborhood. She moved back to Pittsburgh from San Francisco with her family to come back to a very vacated Knoxville. Although her neighborhood is a little rough around the edges, she is quick to point out the quality of her neighbors and congregation. Click here to learn more about her project, the Beloved Community Garden of Hope. 

Mt. Oliver (City)

Suzanne N. Photos

Suzanne has lived in her neighborhood for 38 years and has seen the changes that it has gone through. In particular she misses the former St. Joseph church and the sense of community there was when she was growing up. Through this program, she hopes to restore neighborhood togetherness and increase the number of those residents engaged in the community. Click here to learn more about her project, GameStop at the Corner. 

Mt. Oliver (Borough)

Mitra Gurung

Mitra and his father, Chitra, both are members of our program. They moved to the Mt. Oliver neighborhood from Bhutan in 2012. He hopes that through his participation that he can create a community space for his Bhutanese people to help increase their knowledge and understanding of the neighborhood. He also is excited to help make Pittsburgh a greener city. 

Chitra Gurung

Along with his son, Chitra moved from Bhutan to  Mt. Oliver City, where he joined a small community of a few hundred other Bhutanese refugees now call home. A former farmer, he is very close with his community and was nominated by them to participate in the ReClaim South Ambassador program. Father and son will be working  with Grow Pittsburgh and the borough to build out a community space in the new community food garden. Click here to learn more about their project, the Gathering Space at the Mt. Oliver Community Garden.

Mt. Washington

ReClaim South Ambassador Melanie

Melanie Pfeiffenberger

Melanie is no stranger to environmentalism – she studied the subject at the University of Pittsburgh and is currently employed by the Pennsylvania Resources Council (PCR) as an Environmental Program Coordinator. She has only lived in Mount Washington for a few months, but already she loves the uniqueness of her neighbors. Along with the task of reclaiming a lot, she’ll be keeping busy training for her first half marathon in the spring. Click here to learn more about her project, Emerald View Park Entrance.

South Side Slopes

David Totten

Originally from California, David is looking to get more involved in his neighborhood, which is what drew him to apply to ReClaim South.  As a Regional Transit Planner, it isn’t a surprise that he is passionate preserving the highway of stairs that criss cross his community. Click here to learn more about his project, Little Free Libraries in the Hilltop.

St. Clair

John Niederberger

As an avid antique glass collector, John can tell you all about the glass that used to be produced in his neighborhood at the turn of the century. Cousins with Suzanne, they have reconnected recently to tackle a greening project together. He is interested in improving the quality of life of his neighbors by “declucking” vacant lots in his community. Click here to learn more about his project, St. Joseph’s Garden. 

Patti Stewart

Patti has been a resident of Mt. Oliver City for nearly 40 years. Although the elementary school closed recently, her favorite green space in her neighborhood is the still active Phillip Murray playground. Her favorite bridge in the city is the Roberto Clemente, so it’s no surprise that she is a fan of the Pirates. Click here to learn more about her project, Patti’s Point. 


The Mentor



Jamie is volunteering his time and expertise he has navigating the world of realty to the ReClaim South program. He hopes to learn a thing or two about greening strategies on vacant land and give back to his South Side Slopes neighborhood through a new, clean green space.