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Who Are Pittsburgh's Young Philanthropists?

Nonprofit organizations are finding that Next-Gen donors crave opportunities to give of their time and talents as well as their dollars. Meet 12 young givers who are doing just that in Pittsburgh.



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Christopher Amar (37)

Of Counsel, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP

Christopher Amar and his wife, Cheryl David, have Wikipedia to thank for bringing them to Pittsburgh.

“We started looking at the largest metro areas in America and realized Pittsburgh was the biggest of the small towns and smallest of the big cities, and [we] thought it would be a nice middle ground,” he says.

Fast forward six years, and you’ll discover a philanthropic track record that’s included being a donor, community advocate and active proponent of The Pittsburgh Promise.

He credits his immigrant parents — his father is a native of India; his mother is a native of China — with instilling a desire to advocate for the underprivileged and underserved. He also sits on the boards of Pressley Ridge, Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures and the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.

Success is … waking up every day and doing something meaningful. If I do, I believe that I will leave the world in slightly better shape than when I arrived.
 

Claire Senita [24]

Pittsburgh Advocate, Journey Forward

A spinal-cord injury has yet to get in the way of Claire Senita.

Following a gymnastics injury in eighth grade that left her paralyzed from the neck down, there wasn’t so much of a “why me?” as there were confusion and anger that a common move during her routine had gone terribly wrong.

But it never stopped the former Pine-Richland student from learning how to drive or from attending Curry College in Boston. While there, she became involved with Journey Forward, which uses an intense exercise program to enhance the lives of those with spinal-cord injuries. Now back in Pittsburgh, she’s on a crusade to establish a local branch, having helped to raise $50,000 towards the $350,000 needed for equipment, training for staff and other related costs.

“Every time I want to give up, I have to remember how many other people could benefit from this,” she says. “I almost feel selfish if I would stop trying.”

I am most afraid of … Knowing that I could have helped someone else but was unable to because I couldn’t find the resources.
 

Anna Yaksich [16] and Sydni Henley [16]

Students, Springdale Junior-Senior High School

It doesn’t matter if you’re 5 or 50 — if you see something wrong in the world, then it’s up to you to change it.

That mentality has driven best friends Anna Yaksich and Sydni Henley since they attended grade school. 

“My mom was watching Oprah when I was 7, and they started talking about puppy mills, showing how mistreated [the animals] were,” says Anna. “I remember being really astonished and confused as to how something like that could exist.”

Immediately, she and Sydni started to raise funds as ambassadors for Animal Friends, with a goal of raising $25,000 by the time they graduated from high school.
By the eighth grade, they’d shattered it.

Now at $28,000 and growing, their “For the Love of All Animals” fund continues to help all of the shelter’s residents in various ways.

My spirit animal is … [Anna] A dog. They are so pure, innocent and trusting, always loving, looking for the good in situations. Dogs are really honorable, and I think that’s something people should try to aspire to be. 

My spirit animal is… [Sydni] A bear. They reflect the qualities of inner strength, fearlessness and confidence in themselves. Bears stand against adversity, taking action and showing leadership.
 

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