Short Stories

Cindy and Dave: U.S. Steel’s Irvin Works endangers Glassport Residents

I met Cindy and Dave Meckel in November. The two shared with me their experience living in Glassport next to US Steel’s Irvin Works and how the pollution affects their health. Dave showed me the soot which reaches the interior of their home. Cindy explained that on bad days, she wheezes walking to her car for work in the morning. The Peachtree Flare, close to the couple’s house, has been a major culprit as it burned untreated coke oven gas and spread pollution farther out to nearby residents. More on this story written by Oliver Morrison at

Patricia La Choppa: The Health Department levies a fine against La Choppa’s landlord after she lived without heat and water for several years

I only got to meet Patricia Briefly when I photographed her for PublicSource this semester but the interaction impacted me. McKeesport resident, Patricia La Choppa, fears another winter without heat in her rental which has been deemed unlivable. With limited income, however, she and her family nowhere else to go. Her landlord, who is now in a nursing home, has failed to make the necessary fixes or pay health department fines. I watched Patricia tear up as she talked about her children. She explained that due to her health issues and surgeries, she needs the care of her children, but cannot get compensation for them because of her living conditions. I pulled past her house again on my way out and saw her and her family laughing together on the porch. I was inspired. The resilience of her spirit and her family surrounding her was a beautiful picture that I didn’t take but remains in my mind. Read more on this story by Rich Lord and the Tenant City project at

Lauren Zak and Lisa Stagon: Shortage of Disability Care Workers in Pittsburgh

Lauren Zak and Lisa Stagon are both disability care workers, but one does so as a mother and the former does so as a job. Since the pandemic finding care for her son, Chris, who has down syndrome, has been difficult.  Stagon was forced to make a difficult decision and leave the work force to care for her son. Staffing and funding shortages in Pittsburgh are taking a toll on the families of individuals with disabilities. Read more on this PublicSource story by Juliette Rihl here.