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Hope for the
Homeless
In Southwestern PA since 1941

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Coronavirus Response
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Mission Possible Run
August 6, 2022

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5th Annual Golf Outing
August 22, 2022

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City Mission has numerous fundraising events!
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City Mission has numerous volunteer opportunities
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About

Who we are

City Mission is a Christ-centered rehabilitative homeless shelter.  We facilitate the transformation of those who have descended into homelessness, hunger and despair by providing food, shelter, case management, Christian based counseling, and life-changing programming.  Our goal is to help each person who walks through our doors to become a healthy, productive member of society.

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Programs

What we do

The City Mission offers two branches of service - Compassionate Care and our Life Recovery Program. Compassionate Care reaches out to those most in need by offering basic services such as meals, shelter, and medical care.  The Life Recovery Program assists men, women, and children who are in crisis and looking for life transformation.  Our philosophy is to meet people where they are and to lead them towards their God-given purpose.

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Way to Help

What you can do

City Mission’s work is only possible by the community and businesses of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s generous donation of time and treasure.  If you, your business, or church would like to be part of bringing hope to those hurting in our region, or partner with us to deliver the same - please take action today.

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Our Mission
For over 75 years, City Mission has shared Christ, sheltered, healed, and restored the homeless to independent living—without discrimination.  City Mission’s comprehensive program addresses both short-term needs like food and shelter, and long-term needs, including drug and alcohol counseling, mental health and medical treatment, legal aid, and employment training.  Our goal is to help each man, woman, mother with children, or veteran who walks through our doors to become a healthy, productive member of society.  With your help, we help our residents renew their lives.
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Men
female resident
Women
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Women & Children
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Veterans
Program Overview
Our Impact
Our goal for each person who comes to City Mission is for them to move from a life of crisis, to a healthy, productive and thriving life.  Because of your generosity, City Mission made a real impact in the community, giving hope to those who are hungry and homeless and come to our doors for help.
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What Our Residents Say

Amanda, female resident
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"City Mission is where I finally learned that life isn't totally about me. When I began to put others first, I attained a peace that I never had before."
Jackie,
Former Mission Resident
Randy, former resident
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“The Mission gives you the opportunity to get right with the Lord and truly change your life. I’m learning to love myself the way God loves me.”
Matt,
City Mission Resident
kevin, resident
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“This time last year, I was depressed, but today I have hope.  The Mission is a place of restoration.  A place of giving life to the lifeless.”
Carmella,
City Mission Resident
matt, former resident
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“When I had nowhere else to go, their doors were open.  They took me in graciously. They’ve given me hope.  I’ve gotten my confidence and dignity back."
Matt,
Former Resident
Nikki, former resident
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“The Mission is a miracle for me. It has offered and given me so much.  There’s everything here you could need to get on your feet and start over.”
Nikki,
Former Mission Resident
Nikki, former resident
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“I’m finally happy.  Happy that I restored my relationship with the Lord.  It’s definitely better when you have God on your side.”
Garrick,
Former Mission Resident
Renee, former resident
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“The gratitude I have in my heart for this place is indescribable.  It is always going to be apart of my life.  City Mission is forever engraved on my heart.”
Renee,
Former Mission Resident
Jeff, resident
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"City Mission has done wonders for me. It’s really been a God-send. As a vet, it takes me a while to trust people. But God is love, and the City Mission is love."
Jeff,
City Mission Resident

Latest News from the Mission

Our News Articles provide information on all manner of topics related to the City Mission.  Our Subject areas include:  Events; Resident Stories; Our Donors; Newsletter Repository; and Knowledge Share.  Knowledge Share engages a host of topics regarding homelessness, addiction and poverty.  Below you will find an opportunity to be “in-the-know” by being on our email list.  You will also find our most recent news pulled together for you below.  Checkout the "Podcast" section of our Knowledge Share articles page!

"Part of the Family"

Matt Dorn at his desk at City Mission
May 26, 2022

“I love you guys,” City Mission’s Work Readiness Manager, Matt Dorn, told a group of residents as he closed the sliding door of the City Mission van before it pulled out of the parking lot and headed down the road to our Vocational Training Center. Part of Matt’s job at the Mission is to get the residents off to their work readiness assignments every morning. “There is so much love here at City Mission. That’s why it works,” he said. “They love you from the gate no matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done. They love you until you can love yourself. That’s what the Mission gave to me, and that’s what I want to give back to these guys.” In 2017, Matt was homeless. His parents had divorced when he was young, and he ended up being on his own at a young age, which left him with abandonment issues. So he always worked very hard to fit in. For him, that meant parties. At one point, he had a very successful job at a bank in his hometown of New Kensington. He had a good education, a good job, and he owned his own home. But his house quickly became the party house for him and his friends, and he began to fall deeper and deeper into drugs. Eventually, his drug use spiraled out of control and ruined all the good things in his life. He lost everything, and he ended up living on the streets. He would sleep at a 24-hour grocery store and steal cough syrup to stave off withdrawal symptoms. “For 8 years, I was in a fog,” he said. “I was just existing.” He went to rehab many times, but it never took. He even ended up spending time in jail for retail theft. “You’re not going to quit until you’re ready,” he explained. “Jesus has to look down on you and give you the grace to quit.” He was miserable and alone on the streets of New Kensington, so he moved to Pittsburgh and lived in a homeless community downtown, where his addiction actually escalated. At one point, Matt went into a porta-potty by himself to do drugs, and he got stuck there for 9 hours, because he was convinced that a bunch of people were waiting outside to attack him. Matt knew he needed to change his life. Finally, he came to the Mission in August of 2017, and the love City Mission poured out on him helped him change his life. Through the work readiness program at the Mission, Matt was introduced to Dave Foster, who at that time was the Mission’s kitchen supervisor. “In my early days at the Mission, I didn’t care about anything. I didn’t want to live,” Matt remembered. “But Dave Foster helped me care about life again. He taught me how to be a man and to build healthy boundaries. I’ll never forget it. I can never pay him back. I get emotional just talking about it.” It was the Mission’s work readiness program and the relationships he built through the program that started to turn Matt’s life around. And now, ironically, he is running the program. “I truly believe in my heart that God led me here,” he said. “I want to give back the way Dave Foster gave back to me when I first got here.” Since coming to the Mission, Matt has also met the love of life, Becky, and they are now happily married. City Mission also helped her when she was in need. She is now on staff at the Mission as well, and they are both giving back and showing love to those who are too hurt to love themselves. In addition to managing the Work Readiness program, Matt also runs our eBay Thrift Store, case manages a group of residents, and teaches three classes per week at City Mission. Becky is our RSS Supervisor for our Women and Women with Children shelters, and she also is the Intake Coordinator for those shelters as well. “The Mission saved my life two times,” Matt said. “Everyone on staff wants to help you. Everyone shows you love. It’s a family. I feel like part of the family.” You can become part of the City Mission family too. Visit www.citymission.org to see how you can partner with us or contact us at 724-222-8530 if you need help like Matt did.

A Shared Mission

City Mission Manager of Veterans Services, Steve Adams
May 20, 2022

Mission BBQ is a barbecue restaurant chain that honors and supports American military, police, firefighters, and first responders. They first opened their doors in Glen Burnie, MD on September 11, 2011, and since then (at least as of 2021), they had expanded to 109 locations in nine different states. The Pittsburgh location of Mission BBQ in Robinson Township has been supporting City Mission’s veterans’ program from the very first day we opened our Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House back in July of 2018. Annie Thieman, Mission BBQ’s Catering Manager, was on our campus the day of the Grand Opening, providing lunch to all of our guests who came out that day to celebrate the opening of our new Veterans House. “At Mission BBQ we strive to serve those who serve,” Thieman said in a statement. “Our partnership with City Mission’s Veterans Program is one that is incredibly near and dear to our hearts. From the day their doors opened and every day since then, we admire and appreciate everything the team at City Mission does to support and help our American Heroes” City Mission Manager of Veterans Services, Steve Adams, is extremely grateful for that partnership. “Mission BBQ has been with us from day one,” he explained, “and they’ve continued to support us ever since.” They regularly deliver large, buffet-style meals to the residents at our Veterans House, and they let us keep the leftover food. They also occasionally invite our veterans to come out to the Pittsburgh restaurant, and they feed them dinner in their private dining room. Recently, Mission BBQ found a unique way to honor our veterans. They strive to serve authentic barbecue in a patriotic dining room filled with “tributes to those who have made our country great” – according to their website. This is often in the form of military unit patches, embroidered patches that soldiers wear on their uniform to demonstrate their service and the particular unit they served under. In 2018, Adams created a unit patch for residents of our Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House to wear with pride as a symbol of their commitment to restoring their lives at City Mission. To honor City Mission and our commitment to serving veterans, Mission BBQ placed Steve Adams’ personal military patch and the Crabtree-Kovacicek Veterans House patch in a prominent place above the door frame at their main entrance. “It’s an honor to have our patches up there where everyone can see them,” Adams said. Thank you, Mission BBQ, for your continued support of our veterans! To learn how you can support the residents of our Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House, please visit https://www.citymission.org/support/veterans.

"You Name it, You Can Find it"

Rostraver Store Manager, Georeen Busch
May 13, 2022

On Saturday, May 21 from 9am -7pm, our City Mission Thrift Store in Rostraver will be hosting an event to celebrate their ninth anniversary! On that day, everything in the store will be 50% off (except mattresses and Sarris candies), there will be free cake, water and coffee, giveaway prizes, and a Chinese Auction. “You name it, you can find it at our store,” said Thrift Store Manager, Georeen Busch. “You never know what you’re going to find. And our staff is sweet, kind, and helpful. So come on out and see us. You might find a hidden treasure.” Georeen has been with City Mission since 2012 and has been the Manager at the Rostraver store since it first opened its doors in 2013. “I’ve enjoyed what I’ve been doing all these years,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of good times and met a lot of wonderful people. It’s a very rewarding and humbling job.” In March of 2016, the Greater Rostraver Chamber of Commerce named the Rostraver store business of the month for their impact in the community. 100% of the store’s proceeds go to help the homeless at City Mission. And the store also helps those in need in the community get clothing, shoes, electronics, household items, glassware, and other essentials at discounted prices. Our Rostraver store is located at 1729 Rostraver Road in Belle Vernon, PA and is part of the Rostraver Shopping Center in Rostraver Township. Their store hours are Monday-Saturday 9am-7pm. Visit www.citymission.org/stores to learn more about how you can shop and support City Mission through our seven City Mission Thrift Stores.

Meet Our New Volunteer Manager

Jason Johnson
April 22, 2022

City Mission has a new Volunteer Manager! Jason Johnson has been employed at the Mission for almost 9 years and has worked in nearly every department on campus. “I just want to help people, and I want God to continue to grow my heart,” he said, explaining his willingness to go wherever he is needed at the Mission. “In whatever role I’m in, I just want to serve and honor God. Everything happens through God’s hands, and I just feel blessed to be a part of it.” Jason grew up in South Franklin and went to McGuffey High School. After graduation, he attended West Virginia University and Waynesburg College, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling. Jason began his career at the Mission nine years ago as a Case Manager, working directly with residents. “I love working one-on-one with the residents and helping them walk through the barriers that are keeping them from living an independent life,” Jason said. “I wouldn’t be here if wasn’t for the residents. Everything I do, it’s always been about helping people.” After nearly a year as a case manager, Jason became the supervisor for the counselors on staff before being promoted to the Manager of Men’s and Women’s Services. From there, he moved into a position as the Director of Operations, where he oversaw our Samaritan Care Outreach Center, kitchen, maintenance, janitorial, vehicles, security, and pretty much anything involving the City Mission facilities. For a while, he was even the Director of our Vocational Training Center. The fact that Jason has worked in every aspect of the Mission is certainly an advantage for him in his role as our Manager of Volunteers. “Because I’ve worked in every department,” he explained, “I know the intricacies of what makes the Mission run, and I know what the residents need. And it helps me to know what people in different positions do and what help they need with.” What Jason likes most about working at City Mission is being able to help people. “I just love watching our residents find Christ and succeed. I love watching lives change and families change. I’m blessed even being just a small part of that story no matter what role I’m in,” he said. “And when you serve others, you always get blessed in return. You always get more back from the residents than you give to them.” And he is excited to jump headlong into his new position managing our volunteers. “My goal is for this department to become a ministry,” he explained. “I want to expand the volunteer base and create new opportunities for volunteers to partner with the Mission. I hope to have some upcoming outreach projects with volunteers helping us to do things out in the community.” Currently, our most urgent volunteer needs are help in our Thrift Stores, at our warehouse, and in the childcare center at our Women with Children Shelter. If you are interested in volunteering at the Mission, visit our website https://www.citymission.org/ways-to-help/volunteer. You can complete the volunteer application online and Jason will get back to you. “When a volunteer comes to the Mission,” Jason said, “I want them to feel loved and cared about and like they are part of the family at the Mission. And I want them to know who important they are to the work of the Mission.”

A Network of Support

Dress for Success Pittsburgh and Blueprints
April 6, 2022

City Mission’s Samaritan Care Center provides supportive services to low-income individuals and families in our community. Their food pantry is open to the community on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-3pm. Additionally, on the first Tuesday of every month, representatives from Dress for Success Pittsburgh and Blueprints will be available at that time to provide support and make referrals for those in need. Heather Howe is the Mobile Services Coordinator South for Dress for Success Pittsburgh. She is always looking for ways to help more women in Washington, Greene, and Fayette Counties. The mission of Dress of Success Pittsburgh is to empower women who are entering or returning to the workforce in Southwestern Pennsylvania. “It’s about helping women feel more confident,” Howe said at the City Mission Chapel this past Tuesday. “We help them find something good to wear that they feel good in whether they’re going to job interviews, starting a new job, or going to church. We want people to be happy.” Howe drives the Dress for Success van up to the City Mission campus. When the weather is nice, she sets up the clothes outside, and any woman can walk up, complete some paperwork, and pick out some clothes. Each woman also gets a voucher for a haircut. When the weather is iffy, she sets up inside the City Mission Chapel. Lexi Eloshway is a Head Start Home-based Educator for Blueprints. She can help you enroll your family in the Head Start program, which helps kids, ages 3-5, prepare for school. The program also works to build strong parent-child relationships. “The parent is the child’s first and most important teacher,” Eloshway explained. The program uses a “Parents as Teachers” curriculum to help build strong family relationships and create a strong foundation for a child’s education. Eloshway can also make referrals for Blueprints’ other supportive services like rental assistance and WIC. City Mission would like to thank Dress for Success Pittsburgh and Blueprints for helping to create a web of support for our residents and those in need in the community. You can also become a part of that network of support by giving of you time, talents, and treasure. Visit www.citymission.org to discover the ways that you can help.

"Hope is Contagious"

Clean Slate Day
April 1, 2022

On Friday, April 1 from 10am-2pm at the City Mission Chapel, Senator Camera Bartolotta along with City Mission, Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid, and the Washington County Bar Association all came together to host a free legal clinic for City Mission residents and eligible community members. The purpose of the “Clean Slate Day” event was to help City Mission residents and eligible members of the community to obtain expungements or pardons for criminal records. “We need to put people on a path to get back to the workplace, back to their family, and back to life,” said Senator Bartolotta. “We need to remove barriers so people in our community can live happy and meaningful lives.” An expungement is a legal court order that removes a criminal record from public view when appropriate, which helps to give a second chance to those who have turned their lives around. Courts can also consider “limited access” requests to shield non-violent misdemeanor convictions from public view, so long as the person making the request has received no additional convictions for the past 10 years. At Friday’s Clean Slate Day event, there were volunteer attorneys on hand to work one-on-one with individuals to help them navigate the expungement process. “A criminal record is a very real barrier to employment for our residents,” said City Mission Manager of Career Services, Brianna Kadlecik. And sustainable employment is a vital piece of the puzzle for them to get back to independent living. But a clean slate does not just help with employment. Kadlecik has seen criminal records create barriers for our residents to obtain housing, financial aid for education, and even a driver’s license – all things that could help to clear a path for them to a better life. “It’s a beautiful thing,” Kadlecik said of the Clean Slate Day event. “We have 11 City Mission residents in attendance today. Residents who have attended in the past have been able to get answers to things they didn’t think they would ever be able to get answers to.” For Brian Gorman, the Executive Director of Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid, Clean Slate Day is about giving people a second chance. “Everybody who comes here is looking to better themselves in some way,” he explained. “They’re looking for a job or a higher-income job. They could also be trying to go to school or to obtain housing, and their criminal record is preventing them from achieving those goals. So it not only gives people hope and redemption, but it also gives them tangible things that can help them create a better life.” If those in attendance at the Clean Slate Day event were not eligible for expungements, there were also volunteer pardon coaches from the Washington County Pardon Project on hand to help walk them through the process for applying for a pardon with the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons at no cost. The process can take from one to three years to complete, but nonviolent misdemeanor and felony convictions can be pardoned if an applicant demonstrates a change in his or her life since the arrest along with an important need for the pardon, such as increasing employment opportunities. Governor Tom Wolf has pardoned nearly 2,000 applicants during his tenure as Governor of Pennsylvania. Kyle Duff is the Project Coordinator for the Washington County Pardon Project. He works to recruit applicants and team them up with volunteer coaches to guide them through the process. “The Pardon Project is a connection that helps people with criminal records overcome the barriers associated with their background,” he explained. “Hope is the most important part of this whole thing,” he added. “Hope is contagious. It can overcome fear and desperation.” Duff explained that the Pardon Project is such a vital part of Washington County life, because the county has become such a hub for the recovery community. “People come here from all over the state and all over the country for a chance at a new life. And many of them stay and build a life here. They get jobs and build careers and start families here. They’re become part of our community.” The Pardon Project helps to give them a chance at a better life, which benefits the whole community, because the better they do in their new lives here in Washington County, the more they invest back into our local economy. They buy homes and cars. They help create a reliable workforce. They volunteer. They go to church. And ultimately, they help to strengthen the fabric of our community. “It’s great to see so many volunteers here who really want to help,” said Senator Bartolotta at the Clean Slate Day event. “They know how cumbersome it can be, and they are here to help people stay on the right path, to stay focused on their goals.” She added, “There absolutely is hope! And there are lots of people who can help. Just pick up the phone.” For more information about getting your record expunged, applying for a pardon, or attending the next Clean Slate Day, you can contact Senator Bartolotta’s senate office in Washington at 724-225-4380 or the Pardon Project at pardonme@splas.org. You can also visit www.spla.org to learn more about how Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid can help you.

Clean Slate Day at City Mission

Clean Slate Day
March 25, 2022

Sen. Camera Bartolotta, together with The City Mission in Washington, Pa., Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid, and the Washington County Bar Association will host a free clinic, “Clean Slate Day,” for expungements or pardons of criminal records on Friday, April 1, for residents of the City Mission homeless shelter and eligible members of the public. Clean Slate Day will take place at the City Mission from 10 a.m. to 2p.m. at the City Mission on 84 West Wheeling Street in Washington. City Mission residents and eligible members of the public can meet with the volunteers beginning at 10 a.m. Pre-registration is requested, but walk-ins will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. “People who have made mistakes but have worked to turn their lives around should not be penalized for the remainder of their lives because the expungement or pardon process can seem overwhelming or confusing. This event is about ensuring those individuals who have earned their second chance have the necessary resources to overcome barriers and achieve the greatest success legally possible. That is why I support initiatives like Clean Slate Day and have advocated for a number of criminal justice reform measures to streamline reentry to the workforce while protecting public safety,” said Sen. Bartolotta. An expungement is a legal court order that removes a criminal record from public view when appropriate. Courts can also consider “limited access” requests to shield from public view non-violent misdemeanor convictions, so long as the person making the request has received no additional convictions for the past 10 years. If someone is ineligible for expungement, they can submit a pardon application to the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons at no cost. Though it takes much longer for a pardon to be granted – one to three years – nonviolent misdemeanor and felony convictions can be pardoned if an applicant demonstrates a change in his or her life since the arrest along with an important need for the pardon, such as increasing employment opportunities. In 2021, a group of public officials, along with social and legal services leaders, formed the Pardon Project of Washington County to identify high quality pardon applicants and match them with “pardon coaches” to help them complete and submit applications. To date, the project has screened more than 80 candidates and has matched more than 20 of them with coaches. To be eligible for the project, one must have a Washington County record or be a county resident, and they must have completed probation or parole at least three years ago for a crime that is not a violent felony and does not involve sexual offender registration. Volunteers will have pardon applications on hand to help eligible attendees get the process started. More information about the pardon project can be found at https://spla.org/pardon. Brian Gorman, executive director of Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid, argues that expunging, sealing or pardoning a criminal record is a win-win for the individual and the community. “Removing the barrier of a criminal record for a reformed person increases their employment and income opportunities while boosting an employer’s workforce, providing multiple benefits to the public’s economy. Well over 90% of people who contact us about their prior record are looking for a job or a better job.” The City Mission’s Legal Clinic has joined with Legal Aid and the Bar Association for Expungement Days in 2017, 2019 and 2021, and approximately 60 people attended on average. In addition to residents of the City Mission, members of the public also are welcome to attend Clean Slate Day, and those with a total household income of 187.5% of the federal poverty guidelines or below are eligible for free legal aid. The Washington County Bar Association’s volunteer attorneys will be available at the event to discuss other legal resources and referral options for those who are not income-eligible for assistance. For information and to pre-register for April 1 Clean Slate Day, contact SW PA Legal Aid at 724-225-6170 or 800-846-0871. Information on removing criminal records also is available at https://spla.org or by contacting Southwestern PA Legal Aid by email at legalservices@splas.org.

City Mission Chapel Gets a New Name

Dr. Crabtree and Mary Pillow
March 25, 2022

“I can’t sleep at night if I know someone is outside in the cold,” said Mary Pillow, a clinical social worker in Washington. “That was instilled in me by my parents when I was very young. They taught me to never walk by anyone in need, and my sister and I still live by that to this day.” In that spirit, Pillow and her husband, Dr. Michael Crabtree, a clinical Psychologist and Psychology professor at Washington and Jefferson College, recently made a very kind and generous donation to City Mission. In honor of their gift, the iconic City Mission Chapel will be named after Pillow’s parents. “Mary’s parents really embodied the spirit of giving throughout their entire lives,” said Dr. Crabtree, explaining why he and his wife decided to name the chapel after her parents. “They would never want to be applauded. They would want to be humbled. But they represent the spirit of giving that matches the Christ-centered work of the City Mission.” The newly-christened “Porter Pillow and Peggie Beaver-Pillow Chapel,” the “Pillow Chapel” for short, will be dedicated with a special ceremony on Thursday, April 12 at 5pm in the chapel, located at 84 West Wheeling Street. “The chapel is the cornerstone of the work of the Mission,” added Dr. Crabtree, who is also the Vice President of City Mission’s Board of Directors. “It was the only building left standing after the fire that devastated the Mission in 2015. And I think the symbolism of that building on that street is powerful, because it shows that the Mission is putting Christ at the forefront of all the good work they do in the community.” Mary Pillow was born in Tennessee, but her father, who was an engineer for Procter & Gamble, moved the family to Tunkhannock in northeastern PA for his work. Pillow was raised in Tunkhannock and still returns every year for their annual carnival, because she still feels such a connection to the place. “It was a beautiful place to grow up,” she said of her childhood home. “It was idyllic. I had the best childhood.” She has vivid memories of going to church with her parents when she was a child. “I was a little kid,” she remembered, “and I would stand next to my dad at church. He loved to sing. He was a very big, tall man. And he would always sway when he sang.” The first time Dr. Crabtree and Mary Pillow attended church together, he asked her, “Why are you swaying?” And they both laughed. The lessons our parents teach us in childhood are incredibly powerful and impact us as adults in ways that we do not even understand. The most important lesson Mary Pillow learned from her parents is to help those in need. It is that spirit that inspires her and Dr. Crabtree to support City Mission and the hungry and hurting in our community. They have supported City Mission since 1995. “City Mission really hits the mark of the work of Christ in this world,” Dr. Crabtree said, explaining why he and his wife have continued to give to the Mission. “And the whole staff really embodies that spirit.” “From top to bottom,” Mary Pillow added, “this place is the authentic, real, spiritual deal. The people who work here are the best people in the world.” They give, because they want to support the work of the Mission and to carry on the legacy of Pillow’s parents to help those in need, but they also give to encourage and inspire others to support the Mission as well. “This is a great time to get involved with City Mission,” said Dr. Crabtree. “The Mission works hard to serve the entire community, but right now there is a growing need in our area for homeless women. And the Mission is currently working to address that need.” You too can support City Mission at www.citymission.org. Your gift can transform the lives of those in our community who are homeless, hungry, and hurting.

City Mission's Poet Laureate

Randy reading a poem at City Mission Chapel
March 18, 2022

The first time I ever saw Randy, he got up during one of our regular, Monday morning chapel services and read a poem out loud in front of the whole Mission – staff and residents. The first thing I noticed about him was his confidence. He maybe wasn’t confident about every aspect of his life. I’m sure he had regrets and doubts about himself. He had a difficult life. He had been to jail. He had struggled with drug addiction and had hurt people who cared about him. But when he stood up there at the City Mission podium with his worn notebook of handwritten poetry, he just knew somehow that, in that moment, he was exactly where he was supposed to be. And he started to rattle off some soul-bearing poetry. And everyone started bobbing their heads – not just to the beat of his words but also to their truthfulness – in recognition that he was putting into words something that we all already knew and felt but had no words for. And we could all see that he was a kindred spirit. He had loved and lost. He had laughed and cried. He was striving and hoping for peace in this life. And when he was done, he walked back to his seat and sat back down with the rest of us – just like that. And I said to myself, “who is that guy?” Randy came to the Mission in June of last year from a drug and alcohol treatment center, and he made an instant impression. "Randy was willing to do anything for anyone at any time," said City Mission House Coordinator, Doug Bush. "He was particularly noted for sticking up for the weaker or sicker man." He grew up in the Hill District of Pittsburgh. He was raised by a single mother, and he started using drugs when he was just 9 years old. He had a rough life with plenty of bumps along the way. But when he finally committed his life to Christ, he started writing poetry. And he discovered some new and exciting part of himself that had been buried deep inside. And for as long as he was here at the Mission, every Monday at our weekly chapel service, he would go up to the podium with his worn notebook and lay down some beautiful and powerful poems that left us all speechless. Tragically, on Thursday, December 2 of last year, Randy passed away while on a home pass to attend his mother's funeral. But we at the Mission will never forget him or his poetry. This is what Wayne Heckman, our Manager of Men’s Services had to say about Randy, “Randy was beloved by both City Mission residents and staff. He served admirably as a Resident Assistant in the Men’s Program and was a stalwart presence in the kitchen where he prepared meals for our community. Randy was a great example to the community, and he was a brother in Christ. Randy had a great sense of humor, and often had words of wisdom to share, even in casual conversation. He was also a poet whose verse both inspired and encouraged members of our campus. His influence upon his fellow residents and staff will continue to be felt long past the present.” “Since I’ve been here at the Mission, God has been so good to me,” Randy once told me. “I’m surrounded by a great staff team who wants the best for me. I know I have a lot of work that must still be done, but I’m confident now that God has called me his son.” We miss you, Randy! Here is one of his electrifying poems… Can’t Pay You Back So this was the price you had to pay for me To be with me. To save and redeem me. You laid down here for me. Hung here for me. Died for me? You laid down here for me as they laughed at you? You laid down here for me as they nailed you, impaled you? You laid here as nails cut you? Pierced you? You laid down here for me? You hung here for me as your breath wouldn’t come and the blood wouldn’t stop. And nails and nails. You still are God, and could have come down and made the pain stop and the laughing stop. But you hung here for me. Died here for me, and I don’t have to pay you back? You’re doing all this for me? This for me as I robbed, stole, and cheated. As I lied, conned, and mistreated? You’re doing this for me after all the drugging and drinking? After all the lame excuses and not thinking? After going in and out of jail for all my wrongs. Leaving the house in the morning, staying out all night long. After all the times I left my wife alone. After all the opportunities and jobs I have blown. After getting two women pregnant at the same time? Gave up drinking water for a bottle of wine? After putting a gun in a man’s face? And got away without a trace? As I ripped and ran and didn’t care. Wouldn’t stop for you – like you weren’t even there. And you still doing this for me? Well…Father, the only thing I can say is, thank you for all you have done. And I’m humbled and grateful to be your son. Amen.

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.     — Isaiah 40:31