Updated: Apr 26, 2020
A Pittsburgh ministry that takes inner-city kids fishing has been awarded a grant by a group whose trustees think that is “awesome.”
Awesome Pittsburgh, a micro-grant organization, presented a grant of $1,000 to the Rev. Spencer Simon for his project, Let’s Go Fishing, at an event Monday in East Liberty.
For 17 years, Rev. Simon, of Eastminster Presbyterian Church in East Liberty, has taken kids from urban neighborhoods to an annual fishing derby in Butler County.
He was instrumental in encouraging Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy to clean and oxygenate the two-acre Carnegie Lake in Highland Park, and in 2018 he encouraged the state Fish and Boat Commission and the city to stock it with channel catfish, bluegills and largemouth bass.
Let’s Go Fishing sponsored angling events that drew hundreds to the lake. Every Saturday from June through September, the group provided loaner fishing rods and gear and distributed live bait while staff and volunteers taught fishing skills and provided on-the-water assistance to newcomers.
Rev. Simon said it’s about more than catching fish.
“I think fishing helps kids to understand that sometimes it takes a while to figure things out, and it gives them the mechanism of how to do it — figuring out where to fish, what bait to use and other elements of fishing,” he said. “It helps with mental health issues and social development. It helps them to become better students and have a better life. Fishing gives kids time with their families and a chance to have positive interactions with adults.”
Let’s Go Fishing accepts donations but has no steady funding source. Rev. Simon said part of the $1,000 grant will be put toward the group’s free Inner-City Fishing Skills Event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Fishing assistance and rod loans are expected to continue on Saturdays this summer.
Awesome Pittsburgh is a project of the Awesome Foundation, which describes itself on its website as a trustee-funded group that distributes micro-grants of $1,000 “on a no-strings-attached basis to people and groups working on awesome projects.”
John Hayes: 412-263-1991, email@example.com.