Three Rivers Champion: Tom Baker
Allegheny County councilman Tom Baker and his wife, Erin, founded Get Involved! Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps young people become more engaged in their communities through leadership development and service-oriented programs.
TOM BAKER (RIGHT) WITH HIS “LITTLE” EJ.
Tom Baker wrote the book on volunteering. In fact, he wrote three. The Allegheny County Councilman for District 1 and author of “Get Involved! Making the Most of Your 20s and 30s,” “Give Our Passion” and “Empowered in Pittsburgh” has been active in his community since childhood.
“A typical night for me when I was growing up here in Pittsburgh wasn’t that different than an evening these days. We were always on the go volunteering at events,” he says. “The thought of not doing things that support others and bring our community together just has never crossed my mind.”
Baker hasn’t slowed down since. In 2011, he and his wife, Erin, founded Get Involved! Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps young people become more engaged in their communities through leadership development and service-oriented programs including the annual Pittsburgh Service Summit and Fast Track Community Leaders program. Today, he is the chief community affairs officer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, where he has also served as a mentor to three little brothers – Preston, Eric and EJ – over the last 15 years.
“Earlier this week, I picked up my high school graduation ticket from Eric, and the seven years of being his Big all hit me at once as I was driving away. You can’t get that feeling sitting on your couch watching Netflix or going out for happy hour.”
To others considering volunteering, Baker says “Don’t over think it. Just go to a meeting, an event or a volunteer opportunity. You won’t always find the right fit at first, and sometimes it can take a little while to mesh with the organizations that make you feel passionate. You’re better off giving something a chance, though, than not going in the first place.”
If you know someone who should be recognized for their volunteerism, please nominate them at pittsburghmagazine.com/Three-Rivers-Champions.