More than 300 supporters of the Bartko Foundation gathered at the Fairmont on April 16 for their 10th annual luncheon and boutique shopping event.  Attendees of Irene’s Dream Luncheon had much to celebrate.  The afternoon was a tribute to the founders’ mother, Irene Overcashier Bartko, who set into motion an organization that, has for over 10 years, helped to change the lives of hundreds of single, minority mothers.

The Bartko Foundation was founded in 2003 to honor the lives and legacies of Irene and Ted Bartko. The couple’s three surviving daughters and their families wanted the organization’s mission to focus on helping single minority mothers in overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities, not only for the mother but also for her children as well as the community.

The foundation, based in Wilkinsburg, gives away between $75,000 to $100,000 each year to single moms, referred by area social service groups.  The referral process helps Bartko Foundation work in partnership with local agencies to ensure barriers towards self-sufficiency can be eliminated. Last year the organization provided financial success to 18 single minority mothers in the community alone.

“I can’t presume to understand all of the struggles single parents contend with,” said Carl Perkins, Executive Director of The Bartko Foundation.  “especially those whose circumstances sometimes work against them. But I do know this.  At the core of the successful women we assist, there is knowledge that their success will help their children succeed.”

WPXI’s Britnny McGraw served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the afternoon’s program which was hosted by Katie ‘Peachie’ Wimbush-Polk.  A teenage mother herself from Pittsburgh’s Hill District, she is the mother of two, Lala age 31, and Cameron, age 28.  Most know Cameron by his stage name. He is the famed rapper, Wiz Khalifa.

“I am so excited to be the honorary chair of the Bartko Foundation’s Irene’s Dream Luncheon & Boutique Shopping. I understand the struggles that single mothers go through in order to provide for their families, be a positive role model, and to create positive opportunities for their children. When I was asked to chair this event my response was an immediate yes so that I could ‘pay forward’ the support that I have received in my life, just as the Bartko Foundation and its recipients are doing.”

Ms. Jasmine Bowyer was honored at this year’s event with the Irene O. Bartko Award, given to Bartko Foundation Grant recipients who have demonstrated perseverance and commitment in achieving self-sufficiency. Ms. Bowyer was referred to the foundation by Ruth’s Way, Inc.’s Achievement Consultation Program.

When Ruth’s Way began their work with Jasmine, she was living with her grandmother in subsidized housing along with her four siblings.  She had lost her job and recently had her son.  Today, Jasmine has secured not only independent housing and day care but also a job that allows her to continue her payment plan to Allegheny County Community College so she can re-enroll to pursue her degree in nursing.

The support provided by the Bartko Foundation assisted Ms. Bowyer in obtaining a washing machine and dryer, eliminating the need for her to travel by bus to her grandmother’s to do laundry with her son and multiple bags of clothes.  It is a simple and modest need, but one that will free up hours of her week in pursuing her other personal goals such as getting her license and continued studies.

Also honored was volunteer, Diana Harbison.  As recipient of the 2016 Irene O. Bartko Support Award, she was recognized for her continued contributions of time, talent and treasure.

“The Bartko Foundation is so grateful for the many individuals that support our work and our mission,” said Nedra Perkins. “but Diana is special in that she has always said “yes” whenever asked and more importantly, supports us even when we don’t ask.  Diana has been attending the Irene’s Dream Luncheon since 2010 and we are thankful for her on-gong participation and honored to call her friend.”

Join Diana and lend your support today to break down barriers for so many single mothers in our area.  Click here to hear more about the Bartko Foundation from Executive Director, Carl Perkins.