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Franklin Park couple provide McGuire Memorial with its largest gift

Tony LaRussa

A Franklin Park couple looking for a meaningful way to help people were moved to support an organization that cares for children and adults with disabilities.

During a recent dinner hosted by Robert and Christine Pietrandrea, the couple told one of their guests, Sister Mary Thaddeus Markelewicz, that they wanted to donate $4 million to McGuire Memorial — the charitable organization where Sister Mary Thaddeus serves as president and chief executive officer.

The Pietrandreas' gift is the single largest donation McGuire Memorial ever has received, she said.

“Growing up, it was instilled in us that whenever you can, you should take care of people who aren't able to help themselves,” said Robert Pietrandrea, who grew up in the Beaver Valley and was aware of McGuire Memorial, which is located in New Brighton.

“Before we told anybody that we were going to make this donation, my wife and I visited McGuire and saw how much patience and love they had for the people they were caring for,” Pietrandrea, president of Green Tree-based Railroad Development Corp., said. “It's something I could never do. But I am able to give them some tools to carry out God's work.”

McGuire Memorial was founded by the Felician Sisters in 1963 to care for children with special needs. W ork expanded over many years to include children and adults with complex disabilities who may be medically fragile. There is a day program for adults with profound, complex disabilities; an employment training facility for adults; a respite care program for families; and a community home program that offers private, residential living, for example.

McGuire Memorial is a co-sponsored ministry of the Felician Sisters of North America and the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Christine Pietrandrea said she and her husband “knew from our first visit that we could make a difference in the lives of these children and adults, but we never imagined how much they could change our lives forever.”

Money donated by the Pietrandreas will be used to expand the chapel at McGuire Memorial, to build a home for respite care, to construct an activity center at The School at McGuire Memorial and to develop a playground and park.

On any given day, McGuire Memorial serves 250 children and adults including about 70 in the school, Sister Mary Thaddeus said. Many have severe disabilities, and about 30 percent also are considered medically fragile, she said.

The Pietrandreas said they pray their gift inspires others to contribute to McGuire Memorial.

“There are so many needs to be met,” Robert Pietrandrea said.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-772-6368 or [email protected].


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