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Fundraiser: Telephone of the Wind

In March of 2021, the unthinkable happened to Todd and Alisa Whysong. Their daughter, Katie, a beautiful and talented young girl, lost her struggle with depression and anxiety. In her honor, and to continue her advocacy for those struggling with mental health issues, the Whysongs started The Positive Painting Project, a non-profit based in Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania, which is dedicated to spreading hope to those struggling with mental health issues. While that project has helped the family deal with their loss, the Whysongs, like so many others grieving the loss of a loved one, have thought about the many things they wish they could say to Katie today.

Not long after Katie's death, Alisa was watching a segment on CBS Sunday Morning about the Telephone of the Wind. The segment told the story of a telephone, originally created by a garden designer to help him cope with his cousin's death. While the phone was not connected to any actual communication system, it provided a place where he could stay connected with his cousin, by floating his messages and thoughts to him "on the wind." Following a devastating earthquake and tsunami that took the lives of more than 15,000 Japanese people in 2011, the telephone was opened to the public to help grieving individuals connect with lost loved ones. In the years following, similar telephones have been constructed in numerous places throughout the world—but not in Pittsburgh.

Earlier this year, the Whysongs decided that Pittsburgh needed its own Telephone of the Wind. Together with a small group of volunteers, the Whysongs began the planning for the Telephone and its setting. Thanks to a generous offer from Brian Wolovich, the Telephone will be located in the backyard of The Maple Leaf (115 Sedgwick Street), a hub for artists and community activism in Millvale.

Thanks to the guidance and support from Nanci Goldberg, the family was able to have the project fiscally sponsored by Artspiration, a catalyst for community, creativity, and connection in the riverfront communities of Sharpsburg, Etna, and Millvale through the arts. All donations will be filtered through Artspiration and its 501(c)3 designation.

To donate to this project or to find out more, please click here.


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