Professor Honored for Helping Hand

Aug 17, 2020

Dr. Tamare Piersaint will be honored at the Pittsburgh Circle of Courage Awards.

tamare piersaint

A Cal U assistant professor is being honored for her work with children, families and those in need in the Pittsburgh area. 

Dr. Tamare Piersaint, who teaches psychology and school counseling at Cal U, will be honored at the Pittsburgh Circle of Courage Awards 2020, a virtual ceremony at 6:45 p.m. Aug. 21. 

The annual Circle of Courage Awards, in their 10th year, honor individuals who have displayed faith and courage in their personal and professional lives and is sponsored by BCC Ministries and Bynums Marketing and Communications Inc. 

Piersaint is being honored for her work with children during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a mask-making volunteer effort for those in need in the Pittsburgh area through her work with her church Rodman Street, and the Immigrants and Internationals Advisory Council of Allegheny County. 

In March, Piersaint, who also has a private counseling practice, Serenity for Youth & Families, east of Pittsburgh, responded to COVID-19 restrictions by launching “Virtual Storytime with Dr. P.” 

From 8-8:15 p.m. on weekdays, Piersaint invited children and their families to join her as she read a favorite story and provided some tips and advice to manage during uncertain times. 

“At the core, I wanted to normalize that we are all in this together,” Piersaint said. “We have all been touched by this, and we are all grieving something — maybe that’s the loss of a friendship because you can’t be together —  it’s important to talk about it, to speak to it and to normalize it. It’s important to provide tips to parents or guardians on how they can talk to their kids about how they are managing.” 

During “First Responders Month,” Piersaint was joined by “little heroes,” boys and girls whose parents are first responders or essential workers, who were invited to share their favorite stories. 

“I shared how all kids are little heroes at this point, their worlds are upside down,” she said. “They were used to going to school with their friends, and that was no more, and on top of that, if your mom, dad, or auntie had to go to work to take care of people, you had to put your brave face on. 

“At first the story time was just for fun, someone who could read a story while Mom and Dad are busy. But as it went along, that intimacy resonated with children and we began to talk about what to do with their anger or anxiety about the things they miss.” 

Piersaint pressed “pause” on the live storytelling at the end of June, as families were able to head outdoors and engage in other activities that met health and safety requirements for COVID-19. 

Dr. P. may return in the fall, perhaps in a pre-recorded format. 

“I did receive requests from kids and families to continue,” Piersaint said. “I have continued to offer Q&As about different mental health topics as I work to figure out how to do this in the fall. 

Stay tuned to Piersaint’s Facebook page for updates. 

“We were made to connect,” she said. “That’s been difficult to do, so as we deal with stressors, whether they’re biological or environmental, we think we need to keep things to ourselves, but that is so far from the truth. We need to be vulnerable with those we can trust to be supportive so we can feel connected.”