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
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
"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
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.”
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.
“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!
“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.
On Monday, July 19, City Mission will celebrate the Grand Opening of its newest City Mission Thrift Store at 211 W. Main Street in Monongahela. The opening ceremony will be held at 10:00am at the new store with prayer, remarks from City Mission staff and noted figures in the community, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and an invitation to shop the new store. The store will open to the public for shopping at 11:00am, with prize giveaways every hour, a K-LOVE radio booth on-site, and merchandise specifically chosen for our grand opening shoppers. Last summer, the Mission closed their Monongahela Thrift Store following a change in building ownership. They decided to re-open the store in Monongahela at a new location. “We have a good customer-base here,” explained Brian Johansson, City Mission’s Chief Operating Officer, “and I think they were sad to see us go.” So City Mission purchased the old McCrory’s building on Main Street, which had been converted into a flooring store and then sat empty for the past three years. Once the Mission purchased the building, renovations began. Community members stepped up to offer their time and expertise to paint, build, replace lighting, and complete other tasks to help renovate the space for thrift store needs. With all their hard work along with the great work of local contractors, the City Mission Thrift Store will be a beautiful addition to Monongahela’s downtown area and a fun place to find great deals. The new location, City Mission’s seventh Thrift Store, is just a few blocks from where the old store had been. It marks the first time City Mission has purchased a building for the purpose of opening a thrift store. 100 percent of the proceeds from all seven City Mission Thrift Stores support the life-transforming programs and services for the homeless residents at the Mission. Please visit www.citymission.org for more information.
City Mission’s sixth annual Mission Possible 5K Run/1 Mile Walk, presented by AccuTrex Products, Inc. and benefiting the Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House for homeless veterans, is back in-person this year at Peterswood Park in Venetia on Saturday, August 7 at 8am. And building on the success of last year’s virtual run, this year’s run will also include a virtual component that starts on August 1 and ends August 7. ”This is a unique run because it was conceived to benefit a shelter for homeless veterans, and veterans feature prominently in the opening ceremonies and the event itself,” said City Mission Chief Development Officer, Dr. Sally Mounts, a retired Lt. Colonel in the US Army. The event was started six years ago by Jeff McCartney, a local realtor and board member for the City Mission Board of Directors, as a way to raise funds in support of City Mission’s Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House, which opened in July 2018 and houses 22 homeless veterans, helping to restore them to independent living. For the first five years, the event was sponsored by the Northwood Charitable Foundation. This year marks the first year of sponsorship by AccuTrex Products, Inc., a manufacturing company headquartered in Canonsburg. AccuTrex President and CEO, Marty Beichner, was named Pittsburgh’s Vetrepeneur of the Year in 2020, a prestigious honor presented annually to one of the region’s outstanding veteran business owners. “Marty and his wife Judy are long-time supporters of City Mission,” said Mounts. “Marty was a Corpsman on the ground in Vietnam with the 2nd Battalion 26th Marines, and he understands veterans’ needs at such a visceral level. We’ve worked with him on several other veterans’ projects, and he is just rock solid. When we were looking for a sponsor for this event, Marty was the first person I thought of.” This will also mark the first year that the Mission Possible Run will be a hybrid event with both an in-person and virtual option. Due to the pandemic, last year’s event was forced to go completely virtual, and the success and flexibility of that option inspired the Mission to include a virtual component this year as well. “We’re really excited to be back to having a live run this year. But we’re also giving people the choice to register virtually for Mission Possible VI, and then to run or walk on their own time,” explained Mounts. “That way, they can participate even if they can’t make the actual run date. They’ll still get a T-shirt, and all proceeds will benefit City Mission’s Crabtree Kovacicek Veteran’s House.” Since its inception in July 2018, the Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House has helped to guide nearly thirty veterans out of homelessness and into independent living. Richard, a Vietnam-era veteran and graduate of the Mission’s veterans’ program came to the Mission with significant health issues. For a time, he had lived in a refrigerator box under a bridge. Before moving out of the Veterans House into his own apartment, he said, “This is like heaven to be here [The Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House]. This place helped me turn my life around. I got a second chance, and I thank God for that.” You can help other veterans just like Richard turn their lives around. Learn more or register today for the sixth annual Mission Possible 5K Run/1 Mile Walk at www.missionpossiblerun.org.
City Mission’s Samaritan Care Center is our community outreach program, which serves low-income individuals and families in our community. In an effort to prevent those who live in poverty from falling into homelessness, we provide food, support, and resources to those in need. And with a 21% poverty rate in the city of Washington, 9% higher than the national average, there are plenty of people who just need a little help. “We’re here to serve the community,” said Anne Wightman, City Mission’s Samaritan Care and Community Center Coordinator. “We want to be here as a resource for community members who just need some help to get through their day or their week.” Samaritan Care’s food pantry, which gave away 9,492 bags of food to local families in need during 2020, is open to the public twice a week every Tuesday and Thursday from 10am-3pm. You can come in, grab a basket, and browse through the pantry, choosing your favorite items – just like you’re shopping at the grocery store. If you need prayer, someone will pray with you. If you need help with housing, they can offer guidance and applications for public housing. If you need public assistance, a SNAP Outreach Coordinator for Washington and Greene Counties will be on-site twice a month to answer questions and show you how to apply for food stamps and other benefits. If you need legal help, they have an expungement session twice a month with the Director of Family Legal Services. If you need diapers, a toy, or even clothes for your child, they can often help you there too. “We want to let people know the services in the community that are available to them,” Wightman explained. “And we have a good working relationship with other nonprofits in the area.” Wightman and her family of volunteers can help you find your way to the best local services for you. The Samaritan Care Center is ramping back up now after COVID changed the way they did things for the past year. Pre-COVID, Samaritan Care served close to 100 families per week. When the pandemic lockdown started in March of last year, Samaritan Care launched City Mission’s Pop-up Pantries, using four of our Thrift Stores, which had been shut down for retail by statewide regulations, to distribute food bags to people who had lost jobs due to the pandemic or who needed assistance for any reason. The Pop-up Pantries initiative was kickstarted by a grant from the Washington County Community Foundation and supplemented by generous monetary and food donations. Our Pop-up Pantries gave away 4,144 bags of food, each valued at around $20, during the first two months of the pandemic lockdown. Each year, Samaritan Care also hosts several events for the community. Our Bags of Love event last Thanksgiving distributed 275 bags full of ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal at home. Santa’s Workshop allowed community members to select toys and other Christmas gifts for their children or grandchildren, and 50 families received backpacks full of back-to-school items at our Back to School event in 2020. Right now, the Samaritan Care Center is ramping up once again and hoping to serve the community like they have in the past. “It’s important to us that we’re able to help community members in their moment of need,” said Wightman. “And we want people to look forward to coming here. Nobody needs to feel embarrassed to ask for help. It’s really a family atmosphere. We all love each other.” “We truly appreciate that God entrusts us to be His hands and feet in this community. To me, this isn’t work. What I do here every day is exactly what I want to be doing.” Samaritan Care needs your help to keep our shelves stocked. Please help us to support those in need in our community. Visit www.citymission.org or contact Anne Wightman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-222-8530 x266.