CM Honorariums-Memorials June 2020-May 2021.pdf
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Hope for the
Homeless
In Southwestern PA since 1941

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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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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.
3 male City Mission Resident give a group hug
Men
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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!

From Homeless to Hero

Recovery, homelessness, hero
November 17, 2021

According to Joseph Campbell, the late professor and author of The Hero With a Thousand Faces, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” The heroes we read about in books or watch in movies are simply pictures of that heroic spirit that lies somewhere within all of us. Those heroes represent our collective search for what it really means and what it takes for a human to give themselves to something greater. But real heroes are actually all around us, and I have found that they show up in the unlikeliest places. The battles that our homeless residents at City Mission fight every day require true courage. During my three years here, working alongside our residents, I have seen that heroic spirit in more ways than I have in my entire life. It continually amazes me how their recovery requires heroic effort, sacrificing themselves in order to restore hope, purpose, and strength in their lives. Even the second step of the Alcoholics Anonymous’ twelve-step program (“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”) requires you to begin living for something greater. I am convinced that the path our residents take from brokenness to independence is the Hero’s Journey. The Ordinary World Every hero’s journey begins in the place he or she knows and understands the best – a place that feels normal and predictable. The story of Moses, for example, in the book of Exodus, finds Moses in a place of relative comfort and predictability in the mountainous, desert region of Midian. He is performing the very ordinary task of shepherding his father-in-law’s sheep. He has a wife and at least two children. He has built an ordinary life for himself in an ordinary place. For many of us, the ordinary world we grew up in elicits happy, nostalgic feelings and memories. Some of us, perhaps, never leave our ordinary world precisely because it is so pleasant and comfortable. Unfortunately, for many of our residents at City Mission their ordinary world is filled with chaos, violence, and addiction. Sadly, that world becomes normal, predictable, even comfortable for them. A large percentage of City Mission residents are in drug and/or alcohol recovery, and at one time in their lives, drugs became a kind of saving grace, the only thing perhaps that got them from day to day – an integral part of what makes their ordinary world feel normal. “Addiction is a dark, comfortable place,” explained Rob, a former City Mission resident. “You know what it feels like, so you’re ok with it. Change is the scary thing, especially if you don’t know how.” According to Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction, an article produced by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Over time, if drug use continues, other pleasurable activities become less pleasurable, and the person has to take the drug just to feel ‘normal.’” Eventually, drug use can become the defining characteristic of what “ordinary” feels like to a user. It alters your perspective so that the drug becomes your new normal. On their website, alcoholrehab.com, the American Addiction Centers explain that, “The life of an addict can be terribly miserable, but it is familiar,” and “there is comfort in the familiarity…Those who are addicted to alcohol or drugs can find it almost impossible to imagine how they can possibly live without these substances.” “All of our residents can remember a time when their addiction helped them,” said Paul Granger, City Mission’s former Manager of Men’s Services. “We’re all trying to find our shield or our helmet that’s going to protect us against this world that hurts us.” Unfortunately, many people turn to drugs and alcohol, because it can be a temporary escape from the challenges and the trauma of their reality. Many, like Rob, use opioids and other drugs as armor against physical pain. Rob suffered severe complications after gastric-bypass surgery. When his prescription ran out, he was already addicted. He turned to street drugs to numb the pain. Others, like Tara, another former City Mission resident, turn to drugs to escape psychological and emotional pain. She grew up in fear of her father. “I really didn’t have a childhood,” she explained. “My Dad took that from me. He was very abusive, mentally. And physically with my Mom and sister. He could put the fear of God in you with just a look, because we knew how crazy he was.” Lance Dodes M.D., in his article The Psychology of Addiction for Psychology Today, explains, “Every addictive act is preceded by a feeling of helplessness or powerlessness…Addictive behavior functions to repair this underlying feeling of helplessness. It is able to do this because taking the addictive action (or even deciding to take this action) creates a sense of being empowered--of regaining control--over one's emotional experience and one's life.” For far too many, drugs and alcohol become normal life, a kind of armor that protects users from the day-to-day trials and tribulations of life. Drugs start out as a solution. It’s only over time that they become the problem – an even more devastating problem than the original one users were trying to escape. The Unknown The absolute most crucial step in the hero’s journey, the one that all heroes must undertake, the step that in many ways defines a hero, is crossing the threshold into the unknown. When Moses encounters the burning bush, he suddenly has an important decision to make, a decision that will ultimately impact the world for thousands of years to come. He can either stay in the comfortable little cocoon he is currently living in where everything is safe and predictable, or he can venture off into the wilderness of the unknown where life is dangerous, and the future is uncertain. If he chooses to stay in Midian, then he never really becomes a hero. He must set out on the path to Egypt before his life can take a heroic turn. Similarly, our residents at City Mission must leave behind the very thing that makes them feel normal and venture off into the unknown of recovery and life transformation. The hero must find the courage to step outside of the life cycle he is stuck in. He must leave behind his addiction, the very thing that makes him feel safe and normal. “It’s a paradox,” explained Granger. “Everything our residents think they need, they need to risk giving that stuff up. And now they have to walk through this world without any armor, without those things that had always protected them. Being caught in that struggle is the essence of life. I respect that immensely. It takes an enormous amount of courage to trust that you can live a different life through this process when everyone and everything in your life is telling you the opposite.” Rob had been to rehab many times, but he didn’t really want to change. His addiction was the last thing he wanted to let go of. “I was a rehab Rockstar,” he said. “I was never a troublemaker. I knew how to play the game.” Because of his addiction, he lost everything – his family, his house, his job. He was evicted from his apartment and living on the street, thinking about how he had become the hobo he remembered laughing at as a child. For him, it was scarier to give up his addiction than it was to be homeless. Pete is another former resident and staff member at City Mission. At one time, he owned his own business. He had a nice house, a nice car, and a family. But he was an alcoholic. His drinking nearly killed him on three separate occasions. “I almost drank myself to death,” he explained. “I couldn’t stop. I was in the grips.” In 2008, he nearly died of an overdose. His wife made him go to rehab, but he continued to drink and was divorced in 2009. In September of 2009, he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, which turned quickly into ascites, a severe swelling in the abdomen caused by his drinking. His skin turned a fire-hydrant yellow, and he ballooned up to 330 pounds. “The doctor told me I was in the twelfth hour,” he said. Somehow, he was miraculously healed, and he quit drinking for 37 months. In 2013, he nearly died again when he overdosed on anxiety medication and a fifth of scotch. “I had to come within an inch of my life,” he said. “Pain is one of my best teachers. It’s the only thing I ever listened to. God throws pebbles. If that doesn’t work, he throws boulders. I needed the boulders.” The journey into the unknown often comes at a price. There is nothing easy about it. For addicts to change, they often need to hit rock bottom, because change not only means giving up a substance but giving up everything they had built their life around, everything they thought protected them from a painful world. Rock bottom looks different for everyone. Pete had to come within an inch of his life. For others, it could be going to jail, losing a loved one, or getting fired from a job. In their article, Change is Possible for Addicts, the American Addiction Centers explain, “Those who have a high rock bottom do not need to lose very much before they decide that they have had enough. Other people hold onto their addiction until it destroys everything good in their life.” But when the fear of the unknown world without drugs or alcohol is finally overshadowed by the pain of life with drugs or alcohol, life-change is possible. When an addict reaches their rock bottom, they are willing to do anything to escape. Pete agreed, “The pain got to the point where I was willing to do anything other than what I had been doing.” The American Addiction Centers explain, “When people reach this stage, they have the motivation and potential to completely turn their life around.” “When you’re at your weakest, that’s when Christ is at His strongest in you,” Rob told me one day in the City Mission chapel. “He is always there. He draws us real close. He whispers in your ear, ‘I’m right here.’ That’s the start of the change.” Tara explains her venture into the unknown this way, “I could still be in Virginia curled up in bed crying my eyes out in a completely dark room. Instead, I’m here at City Mission trying to be the woman I never thought I could be. Me sitting here right now, that’s enough proof for me that change is possible.” Tests and The Inmost Cave Once heroes venture into the unknown, they are met with enemies and obstacles that test their new resolve. At each obstacle, the hero must renew his decision to carry on into a new future or revert back to his old ways. Joseph Campbell tells us, “Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.” Moses is met with many obstacles on his journey. Pharoah refuses nine times to let the Israelites go, and then once the Israelites are free, they run out of food and water in the desert. They are met in battle by the Amalekites. The people complain and grumble against Moses as they are forced to wander the desert for 40 years. At each stage, Moses must find the courage to push forward. According to the American Addiction Centers, people with addictive personalities (those who are more likely to fall into addiction) often “find life too uncomfortable to deal with. In recovery the individual has to find a new way of dealing with things.” Navigating through the challenges of life without drugs or alcohol requires you to adopt more effective and healthy coping strategies, develop stronger interpersonal skills, discover new ways to build your confidence, and handle difficult situations and feelings. You find strength deep within yourself that you never knew was there. “This can be a place of adversity that they don’t want to walk into,” said Steve Nicholas, City Mission’s former Director of the Career, Training, and Education Program. “It can be a battle area. How do they respond when they face adversity? What is their choice? Do they back down and return to a place of comfort or fight for something better?” Tara says, “You got to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Sharing in meetings, speaking with a complete stranger, trying to put yourself out there in the fellowship of other addicts. Helping the next addict is without parallel. It will shape and mold you into a completely different person. I am not the same person I was a year ago.” When faced with new challenges, instead of turning inward, Tara learned to reach out to others and live for something greater than herself. There comes a time in recovery when you must confront your deepest fear or your greatest weakness – your inmost cave. It is a moment of truth in your hero’s journey. Just a few months into his sobriety, Pete was kicked out of a treatment facility for “drug-seeking behavior,” and with no other options, he was forced to come to City Mission. It was an obstacle in his journey that filled him with anger -- an anger born in the heart of who he was. He was angry over losing his family, his home. He was angry over the four DUI’s that landed him in jail for 47 weekends. It was an anger that had perhaps always been there – an anger that perhaps drove him to drink in the first place. It was this same anger that nearly got him kicked out of the Mission as well. After lashing out against a City Mission staff member in August of 2014, he was given a stern warning that if he didn’t change his behavior, he would have to leave. That same day, while at church, he had an epiphany. “I cried out to the Lord with literal tears running down my face.” “Tears are some of our best prayers,” Pete said. “Psalms 56:8 tells us, ‘God collects each tear in a bottle.’” That challenge proved to be an opportunity for Pete to find a deeper power, and his life was renewed. From that day, Pete began living for something greater than himself. “I call that day Humility Monday,” he explained. “Something happened. I had come to the end of myself. Either I found God or He found me, but I realized on that day that it ain’t about me anymore. And I just experienced some type of joy, some sort of peace in my life that could only come from the Holy Ghost.” Every resident’s story is unique, but if they truly desire life-change, they must all square off against their deepest, darkest fears and discover something greater, something that eclipses those fears and leads them to a full and abundant life. Death and Rebirth Often, there comes a time in the course of a hero’s journey when part of the hero dies. The person who finishes the journey is simply not the same person who started out. A transformation must take place for the hero to complete the journey. The greatest example of this in all of history and all of literature is the story of Jesus Christ. For Him to accomplish his purpose on Earth, He had to die and be resurrected. And His life is a model for us all to live by. In Luke 9:23, He tells us, ““If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” We are all to be transformed. “I tell people, if you see the old Tara, shoot her,” said Tara one day in the City Mission chapel. “She was a very sick, broken individual just looking for a way out. The old Tara died. I’m not that person anymore. Today, I’m completely different.” Pete added, “I am a witness to the transformation power of God. I experienced it. Just like the Apostle Paul was changed on the Road to Damascus and saw everything differently from then on.” Rob chimed in, “If I was still the same person I was, there’s no way I’d ever be able to stay clean. If I didn’t change everything, I would never say that there could be redemption.” “Recovery is a strange word,” he said. “I don’t want to recover anything of who I was. I want to see who I can become. A new creation. This journey is about finding the person that I can become, the man I can be, not recovering the old man. The old things have passed away. All things have become new.” Return With the Elixir The very last step in the hero’s journey is when the hero returns to his ordinary world and shares everything he learned on his journey with others. This last stage in the journey just so happens to coincide with the twelfth and final step of the Alcoholics Anonymous program (“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we try to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs”). Reaching out to help others is a crucial aspect of both the hero’s journey and recovery. “I have hope today, because I want to help others,” said Tara. “It does something for me when I can help someone and see a smile on their face. Knowing that I did something for them just like someone did for me.” This part of the story makes the hero’s journey complete, but it also represents a new beginning. They can finally leave their own wants and needs behind and see a bigger world for themselves. Now, they have a purpose, a calling, a mission – a future. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Conclusion I have been blessed to meet and have meaningful conversations with Rob, Tara, and Pete. When I think about these beautiful, heroic souls trapped in their old lives of addiction, pain, fear, and despair, it breaks my heart. But they are new creations now. They are children of God. They are beloved. Their honesty, love, compassion, and humility are truly stunning. It was a treacherous journey that brought them to the place where they are, and today, they represent the very best of us. They are my heroes! Note: Some of the names and biographical details have been changed to protect the anonymity of the residents.

Brentwood Bank Pledges $25,000 to Finish Strong Campaign

check presentation from Brentwood Bank
October 29, 2021

Brentwood Bank, a community bank headquartered in Bethel Park, PA, has proudly announced its pledge to donate $25,000 over the course of the next three years to City Mission’s Finish Strong Campaign. City Mission has been committed to shelter, heal, and restore the homeless to independent living through comprehensive programs that address short-term and long-term needs for over 80 years. “As a community-focused business, we are always looking for ways to help those who are struggling in our communities,” said Carrie Havas, Senior Vice President and Chief Risk and Compliance Officer of Brentwood Bank. “We hope our donation will help City Mission to continue its mission and positively transform the lives of our neighbors in need.” City Mission will persist in supporting the homeless and credits initiatives like the Finish Strong Campaign with improving program outcomes, meeting the growing needs in the area, and providing a safe haven for those who are struggling. As a part of the City Mission’s Career Training and Education Center, a classroom will be named in Brentwood Bank’s honor. The center provides vocational services to all City Mission residents as well as an on-site computer lab, classrooms, and study areas. “We are so grateful for the partnership of Brentwood Bank and their commitment to the homeless and needy of our community and to City Mission,” said Dean Gartland, President and Chief Executive officer of City Mission. “Their contribution will go a long way in helping us achieve our goal of paying off our current mortgage and begin the process of focusing on our new Women’s shelter which is so critically needed.” Donations made to the Finish Strong Campaign support life-changing efforts including growing the Vocational Training Center, starting the early stages of development for a new 50 bed women’s shelter, and continuing to identify new and cutting-edge methods to address the increasing problem of homelessness. “City Mission’s work in prioritizing an individual’s dignity while helping them get back onto their feet is a truly honorable cause,” said Clayton Kinlan, AVP and Relationship Banker for Brentwood Bank “We hope to propel a successful Finish Strong Campaign and in turn help to meet the ever-growing needs of those plagued with homelessness.” “We thank Brentwood Bank and their generous gift, which is another example of their consistent commitment to our cause and it’s goal of giving hope to the homeless,” said Dr. Sally Mounts, the Chief Development Officer of City Mission. For more information, please visit www.brentwoodbank.com or www.citymission.org. About Brentwood Bank Brentwood Bank has proudly served the South Hills region of Pittsburgh since 1922. Since then, we've maintained our local roots while growing the bank to five locations: Beaver; Bethel Park, Brentwood, South Fayette, South Park. We offer a full range of financial products and services and are committed to providing exceptional service and value to our customers and our communities throughout the Greater Pittsburgh area. About City Mission For 80 years, City Mission has 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. City Mission’s 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 can help our residents renew their lives.

"This Place is Holy Ground"

Jason, Tom, Anne
October 28, 2021

City Mission’s Samaritan Care outreach program provides help to people in need in the community. For many, homelessness is just one medical bill or missed paycheck away, so City Mission provides supportive services to local families and individuals who qualify as low-income. Every Tuesday and Thursday from 10am-3pm, the Samaritan Care Center food pantry opens its doors to the public. There, you can get nonperishable food items, winter clothes, hygiene items, and even toys for your kids. Most days when the Center is open, there are representatives from local organizations like BluePrints, SNAP, Gateway Health, and Dress for Success on hand to offer information, guidance, and support. Tom came to our Samaritan Care Center in August seeking emergency shelter. His wife of 40 years had passed away in 2017. “I still think about her every day,” he said. Going from two incomes to one proved to be difficult, and he was forced to move out of the beautiful home he had shared with his wife. After that, he lived in an apartment building for a while, until it burned to the ground. He lost all of his possessions in the fire. He stayed with friends after that for about a month, but soon, at age 80, he found himself sleeping in cars, on couches, and even outside in the grass. That’s when he came to City Mission for help. He knew about the Mission, because he had been a monthly donor for years. “This was my last resort,” he explained. “As old as I am, I can’t survive living on the streets out in the heat. I just never thought I’d ever be in a position like this.” Tom grew up in Washington. During his life, he was a coal miner, a construction worker, and a maintenance man for a pharmaceutical company. He even owned his own business for eight years before retiring in 2001. He never thought he would end up homeless. When he did, he came to the Mission for help, but he didn’t really want to enter the residential program at first. He just needed some food and a place to stay for a bit while he figured some things out. When Tom came to City Mission, we were still under COVID restrictions, so instead of setting up a cot for him in our facility as we normally would for emergency shelter, Jason Johnson, our Director of Operations who oversees the Samaritan Care Center, helped Tom secure a hotel room nearby and took him three meals a day. In the mornings, Johnson would pick him up and bring him to the Mission, where Anne Wightman, City Mission’s Samaritan Care Coordinator, would help him make phone calls and contact local organizations to assist him with applications for housing. After a few days of that, Tom was so impressed with what the Mission did for him that he decided to enter the program. “They saved my life,” Tom said. “The staff here are angels sent from above. This is actually the happiest I’ve been in a long time. I’m not afraid. This place is a sanctuary. It’s Holy Ground!” Tom is just one example of the great work our Samaritan Care team is doing in the community. Johnson and Wightman have an infinite list of stories who have come to the Samaritan Center for help. From prisoners freshly released from jail to a widow living in her car in a parking lot to an elderly couple living in a trailer outside a junkyard, Samaritan Care stands up for those who just need a little support and guidance as they work their way toward a better life. “Everybody is here because the Lord brought us here,” said Wightman, explaining why she is so passionate about the good work being done at City Mission’s Samaritan Care Center. “We all have a calling to be here.” Learn more about Samaritan Care and support our community outreach ministry at citymission.org.

Common Ailments Among the Homeless

Hope for the Homeless
September 30, 2021

The homeless population in Pennsylvania is recorded to be over 13,000 people. This includes families, veterans, young adults (aged 18 to 24), and those experiencing chronic homelessness. These are people who may be experiencing problems like lack of affordable housing and poverty, among other things. This is a serious problem, but you can help. Homelessness also brings about serious consequences to overall health and well-being. And as it is very likely that those who are experiencing homelessness would not be able to afford healthcare, the smallest gestures and assistance can go a long way. As Director of Residential Programs Leah Dietrich explains, "One of the largest challenges is access. Homeless individuals are often transient and can't consistently access healthcare and mental health treatment. It takes time and resources like insurance and transportation. Many times, individuals will feel they have no options beyond emergency care, which doesn't allow for underlying concerns to be addressed as would be covered in a PCP or counseling appointment." One way you can help is by learning about the pervasive health issues among the homeless and understanding what you can do. Common Ailments It is very common for people experiencing homelessness to fall ill as they are exposed to increased stress, have unstable sources for food, and stay in unsanitary living conditions – all with limited access to healthcare. Here are the common ailments for those experiencing homelessness: Wounds and Skin Infections This can happen to people who have no homes because they are often outdoors and exposed to the elements. In turn, this leaves them vulnerable to wounds which can lead to infections if not cleaned and treated properly. Malnutrition When someone is homeless, they might not have a steady source of food. This can lead to them not eating enough or having access to food with enough nutrients to keep them healthy. That is why they are more susceptible to malnutrition. This problem can lead to more (chronic) health issues, such as liver disease, heart disease, and secondary malnutrition in the long run if not addressed. Hepatitis People experiencing homelessness who contract hepatitis tend to struggle to get the right treatment. "Hepatitis C cases occur consistently in our population. Lack of access to testing can often lead to positive cases going untreated. Individuals with hepatitis C can develop cirrhosis or scarring of the liver over time. As a part of our intake, we screen for Hepatitis C and connect anyone with a positive test to Central Outreach for treatment. This partnership also provides us with the testing supplies for HIB testing," Dietrich says. The CDC also recommends greater access to vaccines to control hepatitis from spreading. Mental Health Problems Homelessness can also cause extreme stress, trauma, anxiety, and depression. These are serious mental conditions that, if not tended to, can cause physical manifestations. Another way mental health struggles are apparent in those who experience homelessness is when substance abuse enters the equation. Dietrich explained how addiction can develop in our residents: "Self-medication often occurs unintentionally as substances seem to take pain away or give a leveling-out effect, and then the addiction takes off. Other times, our residents are introduced to medications that become habit-forming after surgery, and then the addiction grows." In many cases, seeking psychiatric care might be difficult due to reasons like cost, stigma, and inaccessibility. How You Can Help Give Donations Community lawyer Diane O'Connell says that donations allow the homeless to maintain their autonomy, and that providing them with living essentials preserves their dignity. Because people experiencing homelessness often lack a steady source of income, they may not be able to acquire essentials like food, clothes, or medicine. Being able to supply these basic needs may be able to tide them through tough times. These donations may seem like a simple act, but they make a huge difference, especially since the transportation to acquire such resources may be difficult to find. Connect them to a Medical Professional Being able to give medical care to the homeless is another way you can assist them. Though healthcare can be expensive, some places and people offer their services pro bono or at discounted rates. There are many resources on the internet to be able to find these services too. Most people who experience homelessness can have access to the internet via community resources such as libraries, shelters, and charities. They can go online and contact these health professionals found by you. Online, they can consult with nurses with doctorate degrees who are specially trained in advanced medical issues. More importantly, these nurses have adequate public health experience, so they not only treat ailments at a surface level but also address the health implications of homelessness. Similarly, they can also consult with a charity physician if their sickness requires more complicated treatments like surgery. In order to help them, you will have to set up the online meeting and guide them through it. But by simply giving them the chance to speak to a medical professional you will be offering a great service. Specifically, people who are homeless can get in touch with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC). Dietrich highlights how these centers are "federally funded to allow for an access point for the uninsured and underinsured in the community. They serve as a bridge from homelessness and other underserved individuals to the health care system. Because of the transient nature of the homeless, medical providers can become frustrated with the lack of follow-up from the patient, but FQHCs and their providers are more flexible and understanding. Our relationship with Centerville Clinics has allowed our residents to build their comfort with medical providers and discover and address underlying conditions in a safe environment." Doing Volunteer Work If you are looking for ways to be proactive in helping those who are homeless, volunteering is a great way to do so. You can volunteer for organizations like City Mission whose main goal is to care for homeless people as they aim to make a real difference in their lives. These organizations may do different things like offer shelter, have soup kitchens, and hold fundraisers intended to help those in need. By joining, you can assist them in these charitable efforts and initiatives in your community. Helping out those who are affected by homelessness is extremely important and necessary. These are people whose circumstances may be dire and the little bit of assistance you give can go a long way. Written exclusively for citymission.org Written by Jessie Calix

Up and Running

Wayne
September 29, 2021

"Nobody runs a marathon without a good reason, because it's 26.2 miles, and who would do that," said Wayne Heckman, the Manager of Clinical Services for City Mission. For months, Wayne has been a training for the Detroit Free Press Marathon, which will be run on Sunday, October 17. He has been a runner since he was a kid and has already completed seven full marathons. He explains his reason for running. "I like to run marathons, because it's a way to test myself and push the boundaries of my physical fitness, and it also brings peace to my mind." Wayne also has another reason for running. He is working to raise support for City Mission, an organization that he knows is doing good in the world, because he works there every day, and he sees lives being transformed. Last year, he ran a virtual marathon to support City Mission. He mapped out his own route starting and ending at the Mission, and his co-workers ran water stations for him all the way out to Canonsburg and back. He was able to raise over $1,000 for the Mission. This year, the Pittsburgh Marathon was again run virtually, so he decided to run in the Detroit marathon, which will be run in person. He previously completed the Detroit marathon once before and is excited for the opportunity to go back. He is also excited for the opportunity to fundraise for City Mission, a cause that is near and dear to his heart. “City Mission does really important work,” he said. “A lot of times, when people come to the Mission, this is the last place. They’re at the end of their rope. They have nowhere else to go. And City Mission provides them not only with food, housing, and clothing but also with educational opportunities, employment opportunities, 12-step recovery training, spiritual training, and all different types of training and skills to help them be able to leave here successfully and then not end up back here again.” “When someone gives to City Mission, it’s really going to people who are in the most need,” he added. “I promise you that your donations will go to a good cause and really make a difference in people’s lives.” Please support his incredible efforts and the life-changing work of the Mission at Wayne’s fundraising page: https://bit.ly/2W4YpQu

Grateful Through it All

Travis at City Mission
September 23, 2021

As Travis looked around at the streets that had been his home for more than a decade, he knew the time had come to make some major changes. He was tired of addiction controlling his life and destroying everything he loved. “It was just fun in the beginning, when I first started using drugs, but then one thing led to another. For about 12 years, I was never clean longer than three days.” Travis was able to hold down a job, but his personal life suffered. All his relationships failed, and it strained his connection with his family.“I was on the streets for pretty much 11 years – doing all kinds of bad stuff that I shouldn’t be doing. Every penny went to drugs.” While he was in rehab, Travis learned about City Mission when he met one of our staff members who speaks there every Sunday night. That relationship led Travis to seek help staying clean and rebuilding his life. “I came here to try and do the right thing,” he says. “I needed God in my life, and that drew me here.”At City Mission, Travis experienced a real relationship with God for the first time in his life. The daily routine of classes, counseling and Bible study are helping him stay sober and rebuild his life in a healthy way. “I had stopped looking for God for a long time. But now we do devotions every morning and I pray every single night… just a little friendly reminder to stay on the right path.” His parents have been supportive of his recovery journey, and they are proud of the changes they see in him. He’s working hard so that, when the time is right, he can go back out into the world and find a job and place of his own. Travis feels incredibly thankful for your compassion and support – and how it’s given him a fresh start in life. “Everyone here is so supportive and amazing. I see a future now, when before it was just darkness.”

"A Firm Place to Stand"

City Mission Chief Operating Officer, Brian Johansson
September 15, 2021

On Monday at City Mission’s weekly chapel service, Chief Operating Officer, Brian Johansson, paid tribute to the twentieth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center first by honoring the veterans in our residential program who have faithfully served to protect our nation and then by telling the story of his own personal encounters in New York City on that day. On September 11, 2001, Johansson was the Director of the Bowery Mission, the third oldest Christian rescue mission in the US, just 10 blocks from the site of the World Trade Center. He was commuting to work that day, but the subways stopped running, all the bridges into the city shut down, and the traffic backed up for miles. Determined to help during the crisis, he found a place to park his car, and he walked over the 59th Street Bridge from Queens into the city while most New Yorkers were scrambling to get out. It took him nearly 4 hours to walk to work through all the chaos in the aftermath of the attack. When he finally made it to the Bowery that day, there were 50 people, covered in dirt, praying and crying inside the Mission’s historic chapel. He and the staff at the Bowery Mission ministered to and prayed with the victims, survivors, and the loved ones of those who were lost. Johansson, a native New Yorker, grew up the son of a pastor in a blue-collar neighborhood, playing stickball in the street with his friends. “We played stickball games where the manhole cover was first base,” he said, recalling those times in his life for the Mission’s residents and staff. “The Twin Towers were part of my childhood,” he added. “I saw them every day.” Many of those friends he played stickball with grew up to be New York City policemen and fire fighters who have their own firsthand accounts of that day. But Johansson’s story is a little different. He dreamed of becoming a New York City police officer, and after college, he even applied for entrance into the academy, but around that same time, he and his wife, Peggy, began to feel a calling to help the homeless. Every Wednesday, they would pack up some food and drive around New York City ministering to the street homeless. “In 1992, I got a letter of acceptance into the police academy – something I had been dreaming about ever since I was a kid,” Johansson remembered. But that very same week, he also received a letter from the Bowery Mission asking him to be the Director of their Transitional Center, which offers transitional housing for men who have graduated the Mission’s residential recovery program. After much prayer and soul-searching, he decided to follow God’s calling to serve the homeless at the Bowery Mission. By September of 2001, he had been promoted to the Director of the Bowery Mission, the position he held at the time of the attacks. In addition to his duties as the Director of the Mission, Johansson also volunteered as a New York state chaplain, a role he performed for 15 years. As a chaplain, he helped at both Ground Zero and the Park Avenue Armory. At the Armory, he prayed with families who desperately waited for news of their missing loved ones as the search for victims continued. Johansson recalled the despair and confusion of those days just after the attack. “Where there once was a straight and square building, there was now nothing but chaos and rubble. When you were standing at Ground Zero, you couldn’t tell east from west or north from south or up from down.” But he also remembered a message of hope from Psalm 40 that helped bring peace to many grieving families in the midst of all that chaos and suffering. “I cried out to the Lord, and He heard my cry. He lifted me out of the miry pit and set my feet on a rock. He gave me a firm place to stand.” And he encouraged the staff and residents of City Mission with that same passage. “We’ve all had little 9/11’s in our own lives,” he said. “We’ve all had tragedies, challenges, difficulties – whether it’s losing a loved one or struggling with addiction. We’ve all had something. Our response in those situations must be to draw nearer to God. It’s an opportunity for us to come to know Him more deeply. Don’t miss that opportunity.” “You may be in the midst of it right now,” he added. “You can’t tell left from right or up from down. The glass is broken all around. The beams are melting. Your world is turned upside-down. But if you just cry out to God. He will hear your prayer.” There are men, women, children, and veterans at City Mission right now who are hurting. Find out what you can do to help them today at www.citymission.org.

A Passion in My Heart

Sherry Rorison, Manager of Women with Children Services
August 13, 2021

“I want the women and children in our program to know that they are loved,” said Sherry Rorison, City Mission’s new Manager of Women with Children Services. “We’re probably one of the first safe places that they can come and can be unconditionally loved and cared for.” Sherry has only been at the Mission for about two weeks, but she already has big plans. “I’d like to develop a strong program that is catered to their specific needs and that creates hope and healing for not only the mother and not only the child but as a family to strengthen the family bond. I really believe in my heart that the stronger the family, the more people individually think about how their behaviors effect the other members in the family.” For 30 years, Sherry worked with women and children at Light of Life Rescue Mission in Pittsburgh, and before that, she worked for the Salvation Army’s shelter for homeless women and children, so she brings both experience and passion to her role here at the Mission. “God has placed a passion in my heart for homeless women and children,” she explained. “And I can’t see me doing anything else.” Sherry knows that the residents living in our shelters have some kind of trauma in their past, and the first key to unlocking hope and healing in their lives is to confront that trauma head on. ”The only way to achieve transformation is for them to understand why they do the things that they do,” she said. “I’m not going to say you broke a rule so you’re on restriction. I’m going to say, ‘ok can we talk about why you chose that behavior.’ And to really dive into why they did what they did. I’m not saying there’s no consequences, but it’s having those hard conversations that is so important. Once they start to realize why they do what they do, then we’re able to work on a different way of learning.” But it’s not just about healing the mothers. The Mission’s Women with Children program is also about strengthening families. “We want to be able to focus on the family as a whole too,” Sherry noted. “So we’re going to work on family traditions, ways that they can bond as families, and family communication…And maybe that’s being able to go to the pumpkin patch or go to the swimming pool or have a picnic in the park.” “If the mom’s healing and the child is healing, then they’re healing as a family. That’s going to create transformation.” And since women with children are the fastest-growing homeless population in the US, we can really use your help to serve the families in our programs. Visit www.citymission.org and volunteer or donate today. Our women and children need your help!

Open For Business

ribbon cutting
July 22, 2021

“We’re very very pleased to be back in Monongahela,” said City Mission President/CEO Dean Gartland at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, July 19 for their new City Mission Thrift Store. Last summer, the building they were leasing for their store, just a few blocks away from their current location, was sold, so a new location was needed. “We didn’t intend on leaving,” explained Mark Vinoverski, City Mission’s Director of Hope Enterprises. “We have great relationships with everyone here in Monongahela, and the question we heard so often was when are you going to come back.” Ever since then, the Mission had been looking to find a new location in town. In February, they purchased the old McCrory’s building at 211 West Main Street in Monongahela and began the renovations to convert the space into a thrift store. It marks the first building the Mission has ever purchased for the purpose of opening a thrift store. With the support of countless donors, volunteers, and local churches, businesses, and organizations, the Mission was finally able to open the doors to their seventh Thrift Store and Donation Center on Monday, July 19. Christine Somales of Monongahela was the very first customer at the new store. “I shopped regularly at the old store,” she said. “I’m just so happy that you guys are back. The store looks awesome!” Somales was able to find a set of tea cups she plans to use for decorating tables at an upcoming Monessen Library function in October. “I live in Monongahela,” she added, “and I was watching the construction every day. It’s amazing how it just fits in with all the other buildings…I’m so happy to have the Mission back in Monongahela. We missed you so much.” All proceeds from the sale of items at City Mission Thrift Stores, support the Mission’s life-changing programs and services to reach the homeless and needy in our community. “We want people to ‘Thrift with a Purpose,’” said Gartland. “And our purpose is make sure that people’s needs are being met in our community and our county.” “We are the sustaining arm of the Mission,” explained Vinoverski, who runs City Mission’s Thrift Store organization. “Truly, the money we make here goes to support the programs at the Mission. We love what we do. We love the purpose of the Mission.” This is the seventh thrift store for the Mission, and according to Vinoverski, they are hoping to open an eighth store by the end of the year to bring even more revenue to the Mission’s programs and services. But for now, it was just an exciting day for everyone involved in the Grand Opening! There was cake and hourly give-aways, and a K-Love booth on-site with contemporary Christian music playing throughout the day. There was a steady stream of customers and a constant line at the cash register. “It’s a blessing to be here in Monongahela,” said Vinoverski, “and we’re looking forward to serving the community.” So come on out and shop, donate, or volunteer at one of the Mission’s seven thrift stores to help support this vital part of their ministry. Visit www.citymission.org/stores for more information.

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