Johnstown native’s journal milestone coincides with a brand new hometown mission

Aug. 27—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — As a younger lady in Johnstown, Donna Baxter Porcher loved stopping on the L&D Candies store within the metropolis’s Hornerstown neighborhood.

She went off to get her schooling and settled within the “huge metropolis” of Pittsburgh, however Johnstown was by no means removed from her coronary heart — even along with her journal Soul Pitt Quarterly hitting a particular milestone.

Donna and husband, David C. Porcher, bought the previous sweet store at 404 Messenger St. in December, with plans to show the constructing right into a group heart.

This summer season is a celebration of that new journey, and the fiftieth version of Soul Pitt — obtainable now throughout western Pennsylvania.

L&D Candies homeowners David and Linda DeFazio retired in 2015 after 52 years — and the store was closed. Till the Porchers got here house to provide the place new life.

“We used to stroll up the road to get sweet,” Donna mentioned, recalling journeys to the store along with her mother. “She was at all times embellished for the seasons — chocolate bunnies at Easter.”

A grant by the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority helps the Porchers get the place prepared to be used by the Hornerstown group.

The couple are planning a spot for film nights in addition to academic packages on matters resembling monetary literacy.

That grant helped them add new doorways and awnings, and so they’ve been house continuously to scrub up the world across the retailer.

“We’re attempting to make the skin look good so the group can get excited,” Donna mentioned. “Possibly it will encourage others within the neighborhood, deliver one thing optimistic to town.

“Our aim is to return again and provides again. Once we retire, that is in all probability the place that can occur.”

‘Into the group’

Retirement is just not imminent for the founder and CEO of Soul Pitt Media, whose journal is free for readers and totally supported by promoting, with 10,000 copies printed and distributed every quarter.

She mentioned the journal is offered at quite a few Johnstown areas, together with Cassandra Hair Studio on Market Road; Flood Metropolis Youth Health Academy on Lincoln Road; Camille’s Home of Types Salon and Boutique on Village Road; Taco Chellz and Increase Cell, each on Principal Road; and numerous space church buildings.

“We needed it to be free,” she mentioned. “We knew we needed to get it out into the group.”

She launched Soul Pitt in 2010, impressed by Jet journal — a publication that was began in 1951 however went totally digital in 2014.

“I grew up on Jet journal,” Donna mentioned. She mentioned the dimensions of her journal — 5 1/4 inches vast by 7 1/2 inches tall — is “our tribute to Jet.”

Donna began her journal to offer “a voice for the minority group in western Pennsylvania,” and in addition to assist companies attain that readership — offering “a useful resource not just for the African American group, but additionally a supply of knowledge” on academic packages, well being care, and different topics.

She bought the concept when she was a pupil on the College of Pittsburgh, and operated a web site for a number of years — at first as an “underground” publication that includes leisure listings and native gatherings, aimed toward a college-age viewers and guests to the Pittsburgh space.

“We actually thought this was going to simply be a web site the place you can discover out about occasions,” she mentioned. “Or, the place is the Black hair salon, the place are the church buildings?”

‘Uplifting Johnstown’

However Donna mentioned mates had been telling her, “Possibly we must always have {a magazine}.”

She was skeptical, fearing that “print was useless.” However she realized that is not true, and “this retains occurring and on.”

Success over 50 editions has been constructed on celebrating individuals and organizations. Porcher mentioned collaborations have been vital — together with a latest partnership with Level Park Faculty and a reference to the media group Allegheny Entrance to highlight environmental points by multimedia content material.

And, after all, every version features a Johnstown story.

One in every of her first hometown correspondents was Ronald Fisher, who was additionally a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat earlier than his sudden passing in late 2019.

Johnstown resident Mercedes Barnett now contributes to Soul Pitt whereas additionally serving as a correspondent for Johnstown Journal.

Her report within the spring problem of Soul Pitt celebrated The

Tribune-Democrat’s Black Historical past Month poster and essay contest for space younger individuals — sponsored by the Ron Fisher African American Instructional Fund on the Neighborhood Basis for the Alleghenies.

“Ronald Fisher was Donna’s first author to give attention to Johns-town happenings and accomplishments,” Barnett mentioned.

“After his passing, he was my inspiration to proceed the Johnstown Highlight. Donna was decided to maintain that function in her journal.

“I’m happy with Donna and happy to be one among her writers. Though I’m extra of a powerful group advocate than a author, my tales in SPQ journal replicate uplifting Johnstown. Donna permits me to do what I do greatest, which is what she desires me to do, signify the place we’re from.”

Donna mentioned she and David had been “hometown sweethearts” on Oak Road who “parted methods round 1987” when he took a job in Harrisburg and he or she headed to Pitt.

They reconnected in 2015, had been married a yr later, and are actually making a major funding again house in Johnstown — the place her father was a minister.

“I have to thank Johnstown for supporting (Soul Pitt),” she mentioned. “I’ve gotten help from Johnstown from the start.”

Porcher was interviewed not too long ago by Pittsburgh’s Heinz Historical past Middle, which can broadcast a phase on the journal’s fiftieth problem this fall — proper in regards to the time that Hornerstown group heart is perhaps opening its doorways.

“Once we began, we had no expectations,” she mentioned. “However we did not assume we might be occurring this lengthy. It has been a pleasing shock. … We took the leap, and now right here we’re in 2022.”

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