THE RIBBON CUTTING CEREMONY for the new Sarah B. Campbell Enterprise Center, located at 7800 Susquehanna Street in Homewood. (Photo by Rob Taylor Jr.)
by Rob Taylor Jr., Courier Staff Writer
They don’t name community centers just for anyone.
To have your name entrenched forever in history, you must have been a force in the community for decades. You must have been a visionary, a person people looked up to, a person people went to for advice, leadership, and life lessons. You must have sparked positive change for the community, whether it was in economic development or educational growth.
Sarah B. Campbell was all of the above.
“Sarah B. Campbell was a gift to this community,” state Rep. Ed Gainey said. “She did whatever she had to do to improve the quality of life inside Homewood-Brushton. Forever more, she’s going to be part of the legacy of history in this city.”
And moments later, the ribbon was cut, unveiling the new Sarah B. Campbell Enterprise Center, a 2,100-square foot community space and business resource center at 7800 Susquehanna St. in Homewood. The center’s development was led by Bridgeway Capital, a certified Community Development Financial Institution, which provides investment funding, solutions and assistance for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Campbell served on the board of Bridgeway Capital from 1993 to 2012—three of those years as board president.
The Sept. 21 event featured an array of speakers, many of whom had personal interactions with Campbell, who died last year at age 96.
City Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess, whose district includes Homewood, told the outdoor crowd of 100 that as he once sat in Campbell’s Idlewild Street home, “she made me promise that the two things I would work on as a member of council was public safety and economic development. I knew Sarah, I loved Sarah, we were friends, she was a mentor, she was a visionary, and she loved this community like none other.”
Campbell lived in Homewood from 1952-2013. She and her late husband, David F. Campbell, raised four children in the neighborhood. She was an employment specialist and social worker for what’s now called the Department of Human Services. Campbell helped found the organization Operation Better Block and served on the board of the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh for 50 years.
“So often we would see her walking through the community at various events,” said Bethany Baptist Church Pastor Dr. William R. Glaze in prayer at the event. “Lord, we pray that her spirit, even though she’s not here, that her spirit will continue to be in this community through the presence of those will serve and seek to make a difference.”
The center features two computer rooms, a kitchen area, and an open space available for business meetings or community events.
Many family members of Campbell were in attendance at the Sept. 21 ceremony. Speaking for the family, Campbell’s son, Laurence F. Campbell, said that his mother “took a stand for what was right. She stood up for justice, and she took a stand for that which is true. We are here because she stood.”
For all of the progression that Sarah B. Campbell spearheaded for Homewood, Laurence F. Campbell told the Courier his mother’s crowning achievement was her children and grandchildren. “She raised four children—none of us went to jail, all of us are successful in one or another,” Laurence F. Campbell said. “The crowning achievement is the grandchildren knew our history. She was very big on history.”
“I tell people all the time, there’s a way of just mourning and there’s a way of honoring,” state Rep. Gainey told the crowd. “We could have mourned, but today, when you will name a building forever etched in this community’s history, and the City of Pittsburgh’s history, Sarah B. Campbell the building, this is the way you honor the community. This is the way you show our young people that they could grow up to be great, with acknowledgement of the giants that came before them.”
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