Sweet Sunday Sponsor
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.
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.Learn More
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.Learn More
City Mission will be hosting a live, virtual event on Sunday, February 28th as part of their 27th annual Sweet Sunday dessert festival and their very first ever Sweet Sunday at Home event, where the sweets are delivered to your door. Headlining the entertainment for this year's event will be none other than Scott Blasey of The Clarks.Scott Blasey is the lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist for Pittsburgh-based rock band the Clarks. Over their 34-year career the Clarks have performed all over the country, sold more than a million albums, toured with Steely Dan and John Mayer, and performed live on the Late Show with David Letterman, and the 2009 NHL WinterClassic. Their music has been featured in movies and television shows, including the 2015 season premiere of the Simpsons. In addition to his success with the band, Scott has found an audience as a solo artist. He’s released three solo albums and opened for rock icons Neil Young, and the Beach Boys. In 2004, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award for Service from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and just recently was inducted into the Connellsville Area High School Hall of Fame. Most importantly, Scott and his wife Denise are the proud parents of Sofia, Ava, and Gracelyn.The Blasey family has been supporting the City Mission for the last several years. Denise is originally from Washington, PA, and feels strongly about giving back to her community. Denise and Scott, like many others, have been impressed by the City Mission’s dedication to helping adults and families in need. They regularly perform at the City Mission on Thanksgiving, singing songs and helping to serve the residents. Scott and the kids also perform at SweetSunday every February. They’ve seen firsthand the difference the City Mission makes in the community, and are proud to give their time and energy to further their goals.
Growing up without a father, Matt had no stable role model to guide him. He fell in with the wrong crowd and developed harmful addictions and behaviors that took control of his life. He experienced times of sobriety – even developing a relationship with God, going to ministry school, and preaching the gospel. But over time he relapsed and continued down the same destructive path. Finally, when he permanently lost custody of his precious young daughter because of his drug use, he was heartbroken. And he asked the Lord to help him change his life. “It was the beginning of my surrender to Jesus Christ,” he says. He came to the Mission to continue his journey in our Christ-centered program. “I came here looking to connect with my Father, God, and to renew the relationship with Him that I once had,” he explains. “I wanted to pursue God in prayer… in meditation… and in His Word,” Matt says, “and I have found all that here.” And as he embraces God’s forgiveness for his past, “I’m learning to love myself the way God loves me,” he says. Now, with God guiding his steps, he feels called to return to the mission field. “I’ve figured out that I’m truly God’s son… I’ve discovered what my passion is… and what I was put on this earth to do,” he shares. “I’m truly happy, and I can say that with all my heart.” Thanks to the blessing of your support, Matt has hope as a new creation in Christ. “The Mission gives an individual the opportunity to get right with the Lord and to truly change their life.”
At just 26, Mashae was struggling as a single mother. Her father’s sudden death had saddened her deeply. Her depression eventually led to substance abuse, which made it difficult for her to care for herself and her three children. “I wasn’t eating or taking showers. My kids weren’t going to school. I knew I had a problem, but I didn’t want to admit it.” At first, the drugs helped her to numb the pain of losing her father. They also gave her the energy to get up in the middle of the night with her youngest child and to clean up around the house. But very quickly, everything unraveled, and the drugs took over her life. “I was pretty broken. Very upset, very confused. I was very overwhelmed.” Finally, Mashae’s mother stepped in… and encouraged her to seek help at City Mission. At the Mission, her life is being restored through Christ-centered programs and a newfound trust in the Lord. “I’ve learned He will always be there for you no matter what…He will always forgive you. He’s always on your side. He will never let you down.” Mashae is working to earn her GED and hopes to become a paralegal. She is dedicated to being the mother and godly role model her children need. Today, Mashae says, “I am healthier and happier. I know my worth now.”
The City Mission Library in Memory of Saige Knapp opened on December 2. It has been a dream two years in the making for Shelby Lonce, City Mission’s Donor Relations Manager, who is working to honor the memory of her brother, Saige, who passed away in 2017. “When you lose a loved one,” she explained, “your whole life comes to a screeching halt. The rest of the world keeps moving, but you’re stuck.” Shelby and her family have been looking for ways to heal after their tragic loss. “The idea of donating books kept gnawing at me,” Shelby said. “It came to me in dreams.” When her brother died, Shelby and her family cleaned out his home. They packed away four boxes full of stuff. Three of those boxes were books. “Books are what helped him in his life,” she said. “he managed to keep all of those books even through time in jail and periods of homelessness. They were helpful to him. I wanted to get books in the hands of our residents too.” She started a book drive and got 80 books by the end of the first day and 200 brand new books at the end of the initial drive. When she donated the books to City Mission, Dean Gartland, the Mission’s President/CEO told her it had always been his dream to start a library for the residents. “And that became my mission,” Shelby recalls. Shelby developed a very specific vision for the library. It was very important that the books be brand new or in excellent condition. She did not wish to fill the library with books that look like somebody’s throwaways. “I don’t want our residents to think that they are anybody’s throwaways,” she explained. “I want them to feel and know that they are worthy. This is just a moment in their life on the way to better things.” Roughly a thousand books were collected for the library. Shelby made a list of all the books Saige had read throughout the last five years of his life, and she was able to get almost every single one of them for the City Mission Library. One of the classrooms in the Mission’s Career Training and Education Center was converted into a library space, and beautiful, new shelves were built and installed along the walls. Shelby procured an online cataloguing system and started coming in on the weekends to label, categorize, and sort each and every book. Quickly, she realized that this was a much bigger task than she was able to accomplish on her own. That was when Brianna Kadlecik, City Mission’s Manager of Career Services, jumped onboard the project. “It was just this amazingly perfect thing,” said Brianna. “I love books, and I get to sit in a room full of books and talk to residents about books. This is my dream.” Brianna took over the day-to-day management of the library, and she was immediately impressed with the quality and variety of the books. “When I do intake with new residents, I can think of books in our library that directly meet their needs and can help them with the exact things that they want to learn.” When Brianna told Matt, a City Mission resident and avid reader, about the project, he jumped at the chance to help. “Personally, I consider it a privilege to be able to work on this project,” he said. “I’m grateful that in this season of my life, God was able to use me to be a piece of the puzzle to help Shelby and her family. I’m glad I was part of that.” When he started working on the library, the books were all in piles on the floor. He worked to categorize, stamp, label, and organize every single book in the library. He volunteered his time on evenings and weekends, working for about six weeks to get the library ready to open. “Books have absolutely been transformational for me in my life. I’m a big believer in the power of books. Absolutely,” he explained. “Shelby saw fit to keep everything neat and organized and to make sure all the books were in good condition. That speaks volumes to me.” Matt is also excited about what the library space could eventually mean for himself and his fellow residents. “The library will provide a place for you to enter into the world of the book and allow the book to enter into your world. To enter that place of imagination. It could also be a place to do homework and study. Right now, there just isn’t that place. It’s tough. You have to scramble to get time and a place to study and focus.” “My hope,” added Shelby, “is that eventually the library can be a quiet space for residents to go. There aren’t too many of those places around campus right now.” Currently, during the COVID pandemic, the library is open primarily online, and only one resident at a time is permitted in the library space. Residents can view the card catalog online and check out up to two books at a time, and Brianna will have the books delivered directly to them. Eventually, once COVID restrictions are lifted, the library will be open for browsing. For one resident in particular, the library has already been a revelation. Lu is a refugee from Taiwan who is still learning to read and speak English. His face lit up when he walked into the library for the first time. He went straight for the kids’ section and starting reading and re-reading Dr. Seuss books out loud, practicing words he doesn’t normally see or say. “The delight on his face was just so genuine,” said Brianna, who was in the library at the time. “It was just a really beautiful moment. We’re giving him a resource he wouldn’t otherwise have.” The library is already proving to be a valuable resource for City Mission residents. And for Shelby and her family, it has already been a healing experience. Saige’s daughter, his aunts and uncles, and his cousins from all across the country needed some avenue to direct all the love they still have for Saige, and this library has been a unifier for them all. “It has been really amazing to connect with people who have donated books to the library and to share Saige’s story with City Mission donors,” she explained. “Saige is the reason I’m connected to the Mission. He is in the fabric of the Mission.” “Saige was so smart and kind and adventurous,” Shelby added. “He would read everything. He had a really good heart. He was so much more than his addiction. I just wish he could have known that.” “Saige struggled with self-worth. He struggled to separate his identity from his addiction,” Shelby said. But when he came to City Mission, everyone treated him like family. “I’m really thankful for what the Mission has been for my family,” she added. “I’m thankful that City Mission is here for our residents, because all of our residents are somebody’s brother or dad or sister.”
This past June, Steve, a US Army veteran, was struggling through a marital separation when he lost his job without warning. He had been a welder for a local manufacturing plant for the past ten years. With no idea what to do next, he remembered a former co-worker talking about City Mission’s Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House, and he decided to give it a try. “It’s been a blessing ever since,” he explained. “I thank this place for providing stability for me. I was at a crossroads, and they helped me find the right road.” Steve grew up in Houston, PA. His mom was a single mother raising eight kids. After he graduated from high school in 1982, he went into the Army for three years of active duty. “I saw combat and jumped out of airplanes,” he said of his military experience. He also trained to be a medic, which was a difficult job, but he thought at least it would transition into a good career after the military. Unfortunately, he was never able to get a job in the medical field. Eventually, after the military, he moved with a friend to Atlanta, pursuing a job opportunity at a liquor warehouse. “It wasn’t a good place to be,” he said. “I was young. Alcohol led to drugs. That’s where my life spiraled.” To get clean, he moved back home. He went to rehab a few times but was never really focused, and he had to fight for his sobriety for decades. He has been clean now for seven years. When he came to City Mission, he was curious but cautious. Everyone turned out to be much friendlier and more helpful than he expected. “I didn’t think guys would listen to my story and be so willing to help,” he said. “Guys were listening and advising but not telling me what to do. I realized my story isn’t the only one. I related with everybody here. I started to relax and open up.” City Mission’s Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House set him up with counseling through the Vet Center and helped him get funds to go back to school and earn his Commercial Driver’s License. The Mission drove him back and forth to school at Penn Commercial Technical School so he didn’t have to worry about getting a ride. After six weeks, he graduated from the program, and he’s now considering multiple job offers. “The trucking field is so in demand right now,” he explained. “People aren’t shopping in stores. Things are being delivered. I’m looking at so many options.” Recently, Steve was able to land a good job in the trucking industry. He successfully moved out of the Mission and is waiting to begin the next phase of his training out on the road. “I’m proud of myself,” Steve said. “The Mission taught me to stop rushing into everything – to focus on a goal and go for it. They showed me things, but I did it. They led me to water, but I drank on my own. Coming to the Mission is not putting yourself down. It’s an opportunity to better yourself. If you could see how I feel because of what I’ve been able to accomplish, anybody would want to do this.”
“There are plenty of facilities but none like this one,” says Kazmiere, a resident of City Mission’s Women with Children Shelter. “The compassion of the people in this place is amazing. They want to see you rise up and be successful.” Kazmiere and her three daughters came to City Mission in the spring of 2019. Before that, they were homeless, moving from place to place, staying with family members who would take them in. The moment Kazmiere stepped in the door at City Mission, her anger, fear and anxiety dissolved away. “The burdens of the world just fell off my shoulders,” she explains. “It feels so good not to have to live like that anymore.” During her stay, Kazmiere has solidified her relationship with God, invested more time in her children, and worked on her recovery. She has purchased a vehicle and started nursing school. Now she is looking to move into a place of her own – in time for the holidays – where her children can open presents under the tree.“I can’t wait for Christmas,” she says today. “I’m overwhelmed with joy.” She shares that her experience at the Mission last year gave her a new joy for the holidays.“It was awesome,” she says. “There were so many toys I couldn’t even walk around in my suite. My kids were so happy!”Her newfound joy for Christmas has inspired her to give back: “This year, I’m going to bless a family with gifts, a Christmas meal and some gift cards for Mom,” she says. “I want somebody else to feel how I felt when Christmas came around last year.”This holiday season, Kazmiere will be celebrating Christmas with a renewed spirit and the great joy that comes from a new life.
"City Mission is the Lord's house. If this place can help me, think about all the good things it can do. I am forever attached to this place now," said Jacquie, a current City Mission resident. "Here, I finally began to understand that life isn't totally about me and my needs. When I began to put other people first, I attained peace and joy that I never really had before." Jacquie went into foster care when she was 11, had her first drink at 14, and a year later, ran away from home and started living on the street. She struggled with alcoholism and homelessness for decades. Jacquie drank to numb the pain of her traumatic childhood. “Alcohol was my magic elixir,” she explained. “It seemed to solve all of my problems at first.” Over time, it created even bigger problems for her. One day, during a 24-hour lockdown in jail, she picked up the Bible and started reading. She got down on her knees, and she gave her life to Christ. But she couldn’t quite kick her alcoholism. Not at first. After her release from jail, she went right back to living on the street. She hopped a freight train into Pittsburgh with her friends. “It just became clear to me,” she explained, “that -- because I had gotten saved, you know, I asked Jesus into my heart -- that the life I was living was not what I was supposed to be living. And it got painful. You know, it got spiritually painful to go on the way that I did.” So she went to rehab and has been sober now for over a year! After completing a six-month program at a halfway house, she decided to come to City Mission to continue to strengthen her relationship with Christ. “City Mission provides me with shelter, you know, that needed sanctuary from the world,” she said. “And I just needed that. I can sit here and talk about the things I’ve gained materialistically in sobriety, but the things that mean the most to me are the things you can’t see. And that’s my relationship with God and the joy I have in my heart.” Recently, Jacquie got the highest-paying job she has ever had, working at a distribution warehouse. She was able to save up money and purchase a car. Also, she recently started college to study social work. In the future, she hopes to become a social worker and work to heal those in need. “I want to work in some capacity with alcoholics and addicts. But I would really, really like to help the homeless. Just get into the community and help.”
This post chronicles the names of donors and their dedications to both honor and memorialize individuals as a celebration of their respect, love and admiration. Each of the buttons below links to sheet which lists our donors who have made contributions in-honor-of or in-memoriam-of. City Mission assembles these names and document them here so that we may show our appreciation to all the parties.
Michael always knew he wanted to go to college. It was his best opportunity to live out a calling to help people. He wanted a job he could be passionate about, one that truly made an impact. But he felt stuck. “He was hoping for a future path that included a career in the medical or counseling field,” explained Colleen Riker, City Mission’s Manager of Medical Services, who worked closely with Michael during his time at the Mission. “His desire was to attend college, but he wasn’t sure that was even a viable option since he was living in a homeless shelter and had no income.” Michael had a very difficult few years. In 2016, he lost a close friend to suicide. “We really didn’t know how he was feeling,” he said of his friend. “I want to be able to help prevent that from happening to someone else.” He even volunteers as a Crisis Counselor for the Crisis Text Line to provide support for those who have lost hope. But his opportunities to help people are limited, and he has long dreamed of earning his degree and becoming a nurse or a social worker. When Michael graduated from Wash High, he began the process of completing his college application, but he hit a roadblock completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). He and his family also had a falling out at that time, which resulted in him getting kicked out of the house. For several years, Michael moved around and hopped from job to job. “I was couch-surfing for a while until I ran out of options,” he explained. When he had exhausted all other options, he made a call to his longtime friend, Brianna Kadlecik, who happened to be the Career Training and Education Center Coordinator at City Mission. “Michael and I met in the youth group for West Washington and Jefferson Avenue United Methodist churches,” Kadlecik explained. “We ended up becoming part of a praise band called the Fools for Christ, where we both sang.” It was a life-changing call for Michael. “I don’t like asking for help,” he said. “I always like to do it myself. When I had to reach out, it was a big step for me.” In May of last year, he moved into City Mission. At first, he was not at all sure that City Mission was the right fit for him. “The first day was really scary,” he said. “There are a lot of people in one room. Disagreements are going to pop up. I tried to stay out of it.” Many of the men around him were much older and in drug and alcohol addiction recovery, which was not one of Michael’s struggles. He felt out of place. “When Michael first came to City Mission in May of 2019, he had a lot of anxiety issues,” said Riker. “But he worked with our Medical Clinic and Drug-Free Pain Management Team to establish a doctor and utilize Alpha-Stim technology to manage his anxiety.” And he managed to stick with the program. He had some meaningful conversations with City Mission staff and his fellow residents, and he eventually decided to stay. “The Mission taught me to not be in a rush, to just let the process work.” He started going to the Career Training and Education Center at the Mission, and he used the computers there to work on his college application. Now that he was living at the Mission, he could complete his FAFSA application form as an independent, and that helped him out tremendously. “We were able to help him finish his application,” said Kadlecik. “This was a barrier that I had seen Michael run up against for years with no hope of getting past it, and It was so rewarding to see him finally get past it. Michael was filled with hope where there had been so much disappointment and frustration.” Kadlecik also helped him write a resume, which eventually helped him get hired at Gabe’s in Washington, where he was able to save up money toward the additional costs of college that his loans would not cover. He was even able to save up enough money to purchase his own vehicle. Then, one day, a letter from California University of Pennsylvania came in the mail at the Mission with Michael’s name on it. “The moment when I was accepted into college, that was a fun moment,” he said. “Everyone was excited!” “There were high-fives and tears of joy when he received his acceptance letter,” said Riker. “Michael was excited when he got the acceptance letter,” remembered Kadlecik. “He made the rounds to all the staff that he’d been working with, and we were all so excited for him. His dream was finally going to become a reality.”