On Saturday, February 2nd, I had the amazing opportunity to attend Coro Pittsburgh’s 20th Anniversary Gala and the MLK Leadership Awards. I had no idea what to expect before I arrived at the DoubleTree Downtown, especially since I had never attended a gala or awards ceremony before. When I walked down the steps to the ballroom and started to get to work, any expectation I had was exceeded, the ballroom looked beautiful.

Zabriawn Smith and Jacquea Mae. Image by Michael Baltzer.

My objective was to introduce myself to current and past Coro Fellows and current and past Public Allies, as well as take pictures of people at the event. I was really nervous to go up to people I did not know and introduce myself, but after meeting the first few people I knew I had nothing to worry about because everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming. While I met so many wonderful people, who gave me great advice not only about Coro Pittsburgh but the real world as well, two people really stuck out to me: Zabriawn Smith, a current member of Public Allies Pittsburgh, an AmeriCorps program operated by Coro Pittsburgh since 2006; and Jacquea Mae, an alumna of Public Allies Pittsburgh 2010. They were the first two people I met and they could immediately tell I was nervous so they both told me that if I needed anything to come up to them and they will help with anything I need. This immediately struck me by surprise, the fact that two complete strangers would tell someone they didn’t know that if she needed anything just to come to find them. I felt this kindness everywhere in the room, especially with the fact that current and past alumni still kept in touch and were able to pick up as they had never been apart.

I also met Christian Moore, who is currently a Program Manager for Public Allies Pittsburgh and a two-year alumnus of the program. Moore made me feel extremely welcomed and gave me great advice about Coro Pittsburgh and Public Allies Pittsburgh. As I was taking pictures for Coro’s social media, I started to see how close everyone was with each other, whether they are alumni or current workers. This showed me that Coro Pittsburgh is a family that supports one another. I found it interesting that the event was live streamed, by photographer Ricco Martello, so anyone could watch it. By having the event live streamed, it made it easier to reach more people than just in the room.

Images by Iris Leverty