A Passion Carried Coast-To-Coast

“I like helping seniors, so I want to be out there as much as possible.”

Steelers’ rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster grew up in a house with 23 other people, including grandparents. As one of the youngest members of the household, JuJu dedicated a lot of time growing up caring for older family members. Because of this, JuJu has long been passionate about helping seniors in any way possible.

“My grandma is 76 now, and so strong. She gets to see me make it in the NFL.”

When JuJu came to Pittsburgh, he immediately sought out ways to continue helping seniors, this time in his new community. “The opportunity to volunteer with United Way’s Open Your Heart to a Senior caught my eye,” JuJu said. “With Meals on Wheels, I prepared and delivered food to seniors in their home environment, and got a chance to hear their stories.” “It was great to see how many people were there and the hours they put in,” JuJu said.

While out to deliver meals, JuJu met Earl, a senior resident on the Northside. Earl usually got around on a motorized wheelchair, but was saving to replace expensive batteries. After talking and hearing about Earl’s life and his late wife, JuJu offered to pay the $400 for Earl’s wheelchair batteries. “I know I can help because I’m financially stable,” JuJu said. “I’d rather give back than spend that $400 on shoes.”

JuJu says this experience definitely isn’t a one-time thing. He’s looking forward to getting involved with Open Your Heart to a Senior in the future. “I like helping seniors, so I want to be out there as much as possible,” he said. “You’ll be seeing my face a lot more.”

Visit unitedway4u.org/oyhs for Westmoreland County opportunities with Open Your Heart to a Senior, or uwswpa.org/open-your-heart-to-a-senior/ to volunteer in Allegheny County.