Councilman's satellite offices bring services into the District 3 communities
Arlene Trost and Donna Wielock staff District 3 Councilman Bruce Kraus' satellite offices in Arlington, Oakland and South Side. February 14 marked the one-year anniversary of the office in the UPMC Mercy South Side Outpatient Center.
Working one day a week for the past year at the Councilman Bruce Kraus' satellite office in UPMC Mercy South Side Outpatient Center, Arlene Trost and Donna Wielock have handled nearly 600 requests for help from city residents.
One of three satellite offices they staff, the women are in the South Side office every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help with constituent services. The Arlington office is open every Tuesday in the Allegheny County Adult Probation Day Reporting Center, 2322 Arlington Avenue from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and by appointment in Oakland at the Peoples Oakland office, 3433 Bates Street.
The mobile telephone for the satellite offices is 412-689-1130.
"Our 'girls' come in about once a month," Ms. Wielock said of a group of seniors who come to the office regularly. "They help us with a lot of things, they're very knowledgeable in the South Side. They're very welcoming."
The women use the contacts they've made since the first satellite office in Arlington opened almost six years ago to help get residents' problems resolved. They joked about how they're hesitant to share those contacts when staff from Mr. Kraus' downtown office ask for the names and numbers.
They have been able to get help for residents from the Parking Authority, Public Works, PWSA, along with county and state agencies and offices. Their hosts at the outpatient center have also been helpful.
"The people here (at the UPMC Mercy South Side Outpatient Center) are like our family," Ms. Wielock said. "They work with us really well."
People coming in for help haven't been limited to District 3 residents. They've had people come in from other council district and even neighboring municipalities.
The women help were they can and refer the problems to the right council office or appropriate municipality.
Many times when someone comes in it's because they don't want to call the city's 311 Response Center themselves. Ms. Trost said many of the seniors don't understand when they submit a complaint to 311, the complaint remains anonymous even if the operator asks for a name.
Instead, Ms. Trost or Ms. Wielock will submit the complaint under the councilman's name and follow-up with the resident within 10 days.
Ms. Wielock says she keeps current with messages left on the mobile phone they use, frequently answering calls in the evening while at home.
Early on, before there was a mobile phone for the satellite offices, the women would give out their personal cell phone numbers. The practice now occasionally comes back to haunt them with residents calling at all hours.
Recently, Ms. Wielock received a call at 4:30 a.m. on her personal phone in the morning from a woman complaining her street hadn't been cleared of snow yet.
"She said our street isn't cleaned yet, why isn't it cleaned yet," Ms. Wielock told her they have 48 hours to clear the streets and "thank you very much for calling."
Ms. Trost added they get a lot of calls complaining about city lots needing cleaned. Without the "Redd Up" crew, they often rely on Allegheny CleanWays and help from the Allegheny County Adult Day Release Center in Arlington to supplement the work done by city Public Works.
Ms. Trost and Ms. Wielock also help with neighborhood events. A recent heath fair was held at the South Side Market House with 157 seniors participating. In addition to receiving flu shots, seniors could also get information and more from health related businesses participating in the fair.
The health fair was in partnership with the UPMC Mercy South Side Outpatient Health Center.
In addition, they helped out with ice cream socials at Morse Gardens, Carson Towers and the Market House.
To celebrate the one-year anniversary of the South Side satellite office, they are planning a celebration in the first floor conference room of the Outpatient Center on Thursday, March 12 from 10 a.m. to noon. All are welcome to come down and say 'hello' during the celebration.