Volunteers shovel mulch from a truck bed into a wheelbarrow
Features & Articles

Pitt staff can receive paid time off to volunteer. Here’s how.

  • Community Impact
  • Staff

Kelly Pittman has seen the fruits of her volunteer labor — or, to be more accurate, the flowers.

Last fall, Pittman, an executive assistant in the Office of the Chief Information Officer, and 20 other Pitt staff members spent an afternoon clearing a vacant lot in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood. Volunteers returned in the spring and landscaped the lot; by summer, it was in full bloom. The University makes such volunteering easy, said Pittman, especially for staff.

She is one of the 5,382 Pitt-affiliated volunteers who racked up over 100,000 hours positively impacting local communities in 2022.

Pitt staff can receive paid time off to participate in community service or volunteer activities during working hours (there’s a professional development option, too). Full-time staff members can use up to 7.5 hours per month, and part-time staff are eligible for pro-rated volunteer time.

The benefits of volunteering are reciprocal, said Pittman. “It reduces my stress, makes me happier and saves our resources. Volunteer work is a way of life.”

Staff looking to get involved in community service can register for opportunities using the online database hosted by the Office of PittServes, featuring over 800 community organization profiles. PittServes’ signature days of service are another easy way to give back to Pitt’s neighbors. Scheduled twice per semester, the service days are a mass mobilization effort placing hundreds of students, faculty and staff with Pitt’s community partners — from packing boxes at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to painting sidewalk art at a youth group home.

The next signature days of service — Friday, Oct. 20, and Saturday, Oct. 21 — are connected to the University’s Civic Action Week, a multiday effort to educate, engage and encourage collective responses to social issues through workshops and events. All members of the Pitt community are invited to take part.

For staff, volunteering with work colleagues is a great way to build team cohesion, said Gabrielle DeMarchi, assistant director of community affairs in the Office of Engagement and Community Affairs.

“Performing community service is a way to connect with our colleagues on a deeper level. Spending a day serving in our Pittsburgh communities can create a meaningful impact for those communities but also our offices and our departments,” she said.

If your office wants to group volunteer, the Office of Engagement and Community Affairs can help: Complete an online survey to identify your group's preferred dates and interest areas.

For Pittman, giving back is a way of life; she even postponed her birthday trip to participate in this year’s Civic Action Week events.

“Volunteering is my chance to give back not only to the people that need it, but it promotes personal growth and self-esteem. We all walk down the same streets and breathe the same air; it feels nice to help out.”

How to use the benefit

Check with your supervisor to make sure they’re OK with day and time you plan to volunteer. Then it’s as easy as logging the time in Pitt Worx: select “time and absences” and then choose “volunteer time.”

Get more details from the Office of Human Resources.


— Nichole Faina, photography by Tom Altany