About Us

Oral history project preserves voices that should never be forgotten.

                                                                                                                                                                            – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 

 

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MISSION

The Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative is a veteran-run, award-winning 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Our mission is to capture, preserve, and share the voices, images, and experiences of veterans of all eras and branches of service with a Western Pennsylvania connection.

OUR STORY

Kevin Farkas_headshot

In 2010, Kevin Farkas (navy veteran and Beaver County native) founded The Social Voice Project (an audio-focused educational organization) and began recording community-based life stories, including veterans’ stories as part of his Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Initiative.  The aim of this particular project was simply to help local veterans record their stories for their families.  “As a way of saying thanks to our veterans, I wanted to use my skills as an audiographer to help ordinary veterans preserve their personal histories,” said Kevin Farkas.  “Most veterans are not war heroes, but they, too, once put their lives on the line to defend our nation.  Their stories of service matter, but most people never get a chance to record their stories professionally.  So, I wanted to use my skills to help create high quality historical legacies for veterans, their families, and the general public.”

In 2012, The Social Voice Project formed a new multimedia partnership that added videography, still photography, and narrative historiography to the ways in which veterans’ stories can be preserved and told.  The new project, now called the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative, included Todd DePastino of the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit, Veterans Breakfast Club.

“A story not told is a story not heard,” says Todd DePastino (historian and principle interviewer).  “It’s important that we move beyond mere preservation and archiving to bring these stories to life by presenting them across multiple media platforms, such as audio and video stories, as well as text-based stories in the form of memoirs and autobiographies. With the right approach, veterans’ storytelling can be historically accurate and creative.”

SERVICES & PROGRAMMING

Veterans Oral History

The Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative captures, preserves, and shares the voices, images, and experiences of veterans of all eras and branches of service with a Western Pennsylvania connection–all without charge to veterans.

Since its founding, the Initiative has produced more than 800 local veterans’ stories on record, including over 60 live storytelling events.  It also manages two websites with over 180 hours of streaming content.

The Initiative has recorded in more than 50 locations throughout Western Pennsylvania, working with a wide range of community partners such as churches, museums, historical societies, senior care facilities, and other veterans’ organizations.  It has also developed collaborative partnerships with Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum and the Senator John Heinz History Center.

The public is encouraged to view, download, and share veterans’ stories—all without charge.

Live Storytelling

In partnership with the Veterans Breakfast Club, the Initiative records and publishes live storytelling events at more than 25 locations throughout Western Pennsylvania.  These public events include breakfast gatherings as well as evening meetings hosted by VBC’s Post-9/11 Veterans Storytelling Project.  

Podcasts

The Initiative produces a growing list of veteran and history-related podcasts under The Social Voice Podcast Network (TSVPN)—a nonprofit project aimed at providing technical podcast production assistance to other local nonprofits, historical societies, and community-oriented groups.

Creative Media

The Initiative produces numerous creative audio and video short stories, long-form audiobooks, radio dramas, and print publications, including VBC’s flagship publication–Veteran Voices: The Magazine of the Veterans Breakfast Club.

Consulting

The Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative is Western Pennsylvania’s leading authority on recording veterans oral histories. As part of its nonprofit mission, the Initiative provides assistance and guidance to individuals and organizations wanting to implement oral history into their personal projects or institutional programming.

Speakers Bureau

The Initiative offers a range of speakers specializing in the veteran experience, military history, storytelling, and oral history.

TEAM

KFKevin Farkas | Founder, Director, and Executive Producer

Kevin Farkas is organizational director and executive producer of the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative, as well as director of multimedia with the Veterans Breakfast Club.  He is a native of Beaver County and veteran of the US Navy.

Todd DePastino0006 - CopyTodd DePastino | Historian

Todd DePastino is historian, lead interviewer, and oral history producer. He is also the executive director of the Veterans Breakfast Club, professor, and author of the award-winning biography, Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front.

IMG_8199Bryan Chemini | Chief Associate Media Producer

Bryan Chemini lives in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.  He is a multimedia designer with a degree in multimedia technologies, video production, and 3-D design from the Pittsburgh Technical Institute. Since 2012, he has worked as a freelance videographer, editor, production assistant, and studio equipment trainer at MCA-TV and Comcast Channel 14.

Andy MarcheseAndy Marchese | Associate Photographer

Andy Marchese is from Pittsburgh, but he currently lives in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.  In 2013, Andy started The American Veteran Project, through which he has met and photographed hundreds of US military veterans who served from World War II until present day.

Chrichrisrolinson_Smallstopher Rolinson | Associate Videographer

Chris Rolinson is a US Army veteran, photojournalist, documentarian, and assistant professor at Point Park University.  He produced the film, The Veterans Breakfast Club, and he is currently documenting the personal combat stories of World War II veterans through photography, film and audio.

Beth Feather2Beth Feather | Associate Producer

Beth Feather hosts and produces Veterans and Their Stories, a community access television program recorded at MCA-TV in Moon Township, Pennsylvania.  Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh co-produces, directs, and edits the show.

Nancy Hrabak_portrait - CopyNancy Sova Hrabak | Associate Producer

Nancy Sova Hrabak of Connellsville, Pennsylvania field produces and coordinates veterans’ oral history interviews in the Fayette County area.  Nancy is also a project promoter and media liaison in the Connellsville area.

376683_429205573789885_1460959054_nAnna Samuels | Associate Audiographer

Anna Samuels is originally from California, but she now lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and works as a librarian with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.  She is also a writer and audio storyteller.  Anna has interviewed, written, edited, and produced stories with Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh.

Writers, Curators, Interviewers, Media Contributors

Diane Averill, Mary Caparosa, Karen Cullen, Ellie DePastino, Kathy Kasunich, Kellen McClendon, Linda Mudry, Beth Reuschel, Jack Sheehan, Elizabeth Stewart, Amanda Vosburgh, Mary Wagner.

Production Assistance

Joshua Andy, Jean Ann Barsotti, Louis Berger, Dan Cox, Ruth Crocker, Chris Crompton, Emily Drake, Ian Hunter, Paula Kelly, Carmen Livingston, Mary Fogle-Loveland, Joe Mavero, Betsy McGurgin, Victor Miesel, Nick Paradise, Debby Rampolla, Michael Sauret, Jamie Stoner, Matthew Strauss, Michael Strauss, Ken Thomas, Donna Torsiky, Richard Voelker, Nick Wells.

Production Assistance – Intern

IMG_8230 - CopyChristopher Passalinqua lives in Pittsburgh, but he also has ties to Mississippi. He is in the final phase of his studies at the Pittsburgh Technical Institute, focusing on multimedia technology, video, and 3D design which gives him experience with computers, camera operation/maintenance, and audio/visual effects.  As part of the VVOP team, Chris specializes in audio/video editing, as well as on-site production of oral history interviews.

Production Assistance – Intern

IMG_8180 - CopyOriginally from Erie, Pa, Jon Stile is a graduate of the Erie County Technical School.  He is nearing graduation from the Pittsburgh Technical Institute, where he trained in both multimedia technologies and graphic design, with an interest in motion graphics and animation.  As part of the VVOP team, Jon specializes in audio/video editing, as well as on-site production of oral history interviews.