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City Mission looks to stay on top of the latest information regarding homelessness and poverty both here in our area and nationally.  We would love to share some of this with you!

Knowledge Center Articles

A Community Working Together

City Mission President/CEO, Diana Irey Vaughan, with Washington Mayor, Jojo Burgess
July 16, 2024

Recently, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in the case of Grants Pass v. Johnson, which determined that the City of Grants Pass’s enforcement of criminal punishments against homeless individuals for sleeping and living outside within the city limits did not violate the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause of the Eighth Amendment. Previous courts have used the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause to prohibit such bans, so the Supreme Court’s recent decision gives more decision-making power to local communities regarding how they choose to address homelessness.For 83 years, we at City Mission have experienced our local community truly coming together to support the homeless. The City of Washington and the surrounding communities have not only supported our ministry for more than eight decades, but countless other meetings, resources, and services have been created by local agencies to help restore the homeless and those living on the brink of homelessness. And local government officials support these causes, provide additional services, and help facilitate connections among the local agencies. Homelessness is a very complex issue. There is no quick fix. It takes communities working together in lockstep to provide shelter, food, services, resources, help, and safe loving spaces where people can heal. And the Supreme Court’s recent acknowledgement that local agencies and communities are the right places to combat homelessness, doesn’t dissuade us at all from our calling to bring hope to the homeless. We have seen this community in action and that gives us faith that homeless individuals and families in Southwestern Pennsylvania can transform their lives and be restored to dignity, purpose, and independence.

Staff Spotlight

Audrey at her desk
July 11, 2024

Our new friend, Audrey Flanagan, has joined the City Mission team for an 8-week marketing internship in our Development department! Specifically, she is helping us market for our eight City Mission Thrift Stores. We are excited to introduce her to you! Audrey grew up in Imperial, PA. She is very close with her family and loves spending time with them, especially traveling and going to sporting events with her parents and her sister. She graduated from Oakland Catholic High School, where she was a rower on the Crew team and a member of the Student Council Executive Board. Currently, she’s enrolled at the University of Notre Dame, following in her older sister’s footsteps. She’ll be entering her Junior year in August and is pursuing a degree in Marketing from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. Audrey was really into science and engineering when she was in high school, but she wanted to pursue a career in something more people-oriented, so she found marketing. “I love that it’s about understanding people and how they think and what motivates them,” she said about what drew her to marketing. “And I also really like that it’s creative and that it’s always changing.” Audrey is specifically interested in Sports Marketing, and she also has a dream of one day becoming a Sports Agent. “I love the atmosphere at sporting events,” she said, explaining her love for sports. “So many people coming together to all watch the same thing at the same time…even if they’re on two different sides. And I think it’s really cool that so much goes on behind the scenes to make it happen. I want to learn more about that.” Audrey has already gained loads of experience in sports media and sports marketing from her work opportunities at Notre Dame, working with Fighting Irish Media and interning with the Steelers last summer. When City Mission’s Internship opportunity showed up in her inbox, she felt compelled to respond. “I had a lot of sports marketing experience at Notre Dame, and I wanted to try something different,” she said, “to learn another side of marketing.” During her brief time here at City Mission, she has already proven to be a very capable employee, a very hard worker, and a very quick learner. She listens well, communicates clearly, and approaches challenging projects with confidence. Thank you, Audrey, for everything you are doing for City Mission! Fast Facts about Audrey… Favorite Sport Football Favorite Sports Team Steelers Favorite Ice Cream Cookies and Cream Favorite Music Taylor Swift Favorite Movie “I always fall asleep in movies. I’m a terrible movie person. But Soul Surfer is probably my favorite.” Favorite Food Seafood or Pasta Favorite Restaurant The Melting Pot – “It’s a fondue place. It’s so good. And it’s interactive. It’s my go-to for Birthday dinners.” Favorite Vacation Spots Turks and Caicos Chincoteague Island, VA

Empowerment Through Work

Joe working
July 2, 2024

In the heart of City Mission lies a transformative space known as the Career Training and Education Center (CTEC). Here, amidst the challenges of homelessness, addiction, and chronic health issues, our residents find hope for the future through job training and education. The CTEC's mission is clear: to support our residents in their efforts to find fulfilling and sustaining work in their journey toward stability and independence. “We try to give our residents the resources to help them make better decisions,” said Brianna Kadlecik, City Mission’s Manager of Career Services, “And all of that happens before they even start their job search. It’s about giving people the power to do something for themselves. Sometimes that takes therapy, counseling, resources, medication, training, documentation, or a deeper spiritual walk with God. But all of those skills that they learn here at the Mission carry through the process of getting a job and help them to keep the job once they have it.” Getting Ready for Work “We empower our residents for work by focusing on what they do well instead of on what they can’t do,” Kadlecik explained. “We use their strengths to work on and build up the areas where they struggle or the things they aren’t doing as well.” We conduct strengths-based career assessments, provide work readiness opportunities, offer resume-building assistance, and connect residents to job training services to prepare them to find and to keep a meaningful career they can be proud of. • Vocational Training Programs: Within the past year, City Mission has connected residents to training opportunities in various fields such as CDL (Commercial Driver's License), paralegal studies, and phlebotomy. These programs equipped our residents with in-demand skills, thereby increasing their employment opportunities. • On-the-Job Training: Residents gain practical experience as part of our work readiness program, by working in different departments within the Mission, including the kitchen, maintenance, janitorial, administration, career center, and development. This hands-on training helps residents develop both job-specific and soft skills. “The goal of our work readiness program is to allow residents to contribute to the work of the Mission,” explained Kadlecik, “and help them develop skills and experiences that will help them in their work journey moving forward.” • Certifications: Through partnerships with local organizations, City Mission offers certifications that can significantly enhance employability. Residents can earn certifications like ServSafe Food Handler, OSHA 10, Forklift operator, and other advanced certificates, which can lead to higher wages and better job prospects. • Career Support Services: The Mission assists residents with resume-building, online job searching, and securing necessary identification documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, and state IDs. This support is crucial for residents to successfully apply for jobs and benefits. Last year, we assisted 129 residents in securing jobs, facilitated the acquisition of 484 ID cards, and helped residents obtain 911 certifications. This year, we are thrilled by our growth and remain committed to fostering relationships with local businesses and volunteers. Here’s Why We Do It… “It’s about relationship-building from the start,” said Kadlecik. “If our residents learn to trust you in the beginning with small things like getting a drivers’ license or an ID, then they can trust you in the big things, like career advice. If they trust enough to ask for help and then they receive help, they begin to see more potential in themselves – that they can do more than they ever thought they could.” Dignity and Purpose Providing work opportunities at the Mission for our residents instills a sense of dignity and purpose. When they can contribute positively to the family here at the Mission through meaningful work, they experience a restoration of their value and self-worth. Once they move on to a job outside of the Mission, that sense of dignity and purpose goes with them and empowers them to take their work seriously and to want better for themselves. This sense of dignity and purpose can lead them to recognize and appreciate the divine purpose for their lives, bringing them closer to God as they align their actions with His plan for them. Community and Fellowship Employment and job training programs often foster a sense of community and fellowship among the homeless population. As they work alongside others, share experiences, and support each other in their journey towards stability, they experience a deeper connection with their fellow human beings. This sense of community mirrors the biblical concept of fellowship and unity among believers, which helps our residents gain a greater understanding God's love for His people and the importance of mutual support and encouragement for the community. Stewardship and Gratitude Employment and the ability to earn a living allow the homeless to be good stewards of the resources God has provided them. As they learn to manage their finances, make responsible choices, and contribute positively to society, they develop a sense of gratitude for the blessings in their lives. This gratitude fosters a closer relationship with God as they recognize His provision and blessings, leading them to trust in His faithfulness and guidance in their journey towards self-sufficiency and spiritual growth. “My first job is to love,” Kadlecik said. “We can do nothing greater than to love. Our residents learn to love themselves, because we show love to them before they even love themselves. Then, they learn to make healthier decisions, because they actually care about themselves and they can begin to invest in a future that really matters. Love is the greatest gift I can give anyone here.” Donate Today With your support, we can continue to help our residents discover sustainable and meaningful careers. Please consider donating today and help us make a difference in the lives of those seeking hope and a better future. Every donation, big or small, helps us fulfill this Mission and bring light to those in need. If you prefer not to make your donation online, you can send it by check to the following address: 84 W. Wheeling Street, Washington, PA 15301. If you have any questions, please call us at: (724) 222-8530. Thank you for your generosity and support!

"A Safe Space"

June is Men's Mental Health Awareness Month
June 27, 2024

Men’s mental health is an extremely important topic, and over the past few years, we at City Mission have seen an increasing need for mental health services for the men who come through our doors. “We’re definitely seeing an increase,” said Peggy Nagy, one of City Mission’s Men’s Housing Coordinators. “And the severity is increasing too. Four years ago, with COVID, a lot of men lost their jobs or became separated from their families and with that they lost their purpose or their identity. And the isolation of that time exacerbated any symptoms of anxiety and depression they may have had the disposition to.” “Unassigned money and unassigned time is the perfect storm for mental health issues,” added Matt Chase, another one of City Mission’s Housing Coordinators for men. “And a lot of people experienced both during COVID. And they’re still feeling the effects of it today.” Men Tend to Avoid Mental Health Treatment According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “6,000,000 men in the United States experience depression each year,” and “nearly 1 in 10 men experience some form of depression or anxiety but less than half seek treatment.” Nagy explains, “Many men avoid dealing with mental health issues, because they don’t want to be seen as weak. And often they can’t identify the source of the problem, so it feels like weakness to them.” “Or it’s just overwhelming,” added Chase. “They don’t know where to start, and they’re not typically in a place in their lives where they know how to advocate for themselves, because they’re just so focused on survival from day to day that they can’t see the big picture.” Connecting to External Supportive Services At City Mission, we’re not a mental health facility, so our job is to connect our residents to outside supports to get them the counseling, therapy, or medication they need. But connecting our residents to outside mental health support can be a significant barrier to the success of our residents who struggle with mental health. “There’s just not enough agencies and services available,” said Chase. “The whole field is underfunded and understaffed. The turnaround time before we can get them the help they need is often difficult. They have to wait sometimes 30 to 60 days.” Safe Spaces A crucial aspect of our care for men with mental health issues is to create safe spaces for them to share their problems, and we advocate for them and build a team around them while we teach them to advocate for themselves. “We hold space for them to lament,” said Nagy. “We create a safe space for them to talk through their problems and learn more about themselves and help them know that they have someone who loves them and will fight for them no matter what.” “We share the gospel always, but we use words only when necessary,” Chase added. “We show them Christ’s love first through our actions.” Sharing the love of Christ with everyone who walks through our doors is crucial to the success of our Mission, and for men struggling with mental health, that unconditional love helps give them the confidence to trust our staff. Building trust or developing that therapeutic alliance with our team helps them know they don’t have to go through this alone. This trust helps them to open doors to their recovery that they have kept shut their whole lives. Grief and Trauma A startling statistic regarding men’s mental health comes from Mental Health America: men are more than four times more likely than women to die by suicide. The National Alliance on Mental Illness explains it this way, “about four out of every five completed suicides is a guy” (If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, dial 988 to reach the Crisis & Suicide Lifeline). Unresolved grief and trauma are very often the basis of mental health issues for men, and often the trauma can be traced all the way back to childhood, so it is so deeply embedded into their everyday lives that they aren’t able to see it as the source of their problems. And that can be extremely scary, because they can’t identify it or control it or even know how to begin the process of dealing with it. That overwhelming sense of confusion can lead to severe embarrassment and shame, which opens the door to depression and anxiety and a host of other mental health issues. It also opens the door to addiction as they try to self-medicate. Surprisingly, drug and alcohol dependency often begins as a solution to a problem, a way of coping with the unseen grief and trauma that is wrecking their lives. Eventually, drugs and alcohol become an even greater problem that creates a destructive spiral. You Can Help At City Mission we offer radical hospitality for those who are hurting, following Christ’s example of meeting people where they are and treating them with dignity and respect no matter what who they are or what they’ve done. You can support our efforts to walk with our residents through the challenges of grief and trauma and help give them the tools to restore their lives. Visit www.citymission.org to learn more.

7 Facts About Homeless Veterans

Veteran Resident in his dorm at the Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House
June 18, 2024

As of 2023, there are approximately 18.3 million veterans in the United States. Despite government efforts to prioritize homeless veterans, on any given night, about 35,000 veterans across the country are still without a home. The failure to support our veterans is painfully evident here in Pennsylvania as well, where, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), veterans make up nearly 11% of the homeless adult population in the state. In terms of homeless veterans, Pennsylvania ranks 8th among other states, falling behind California, Florida, Texas, Washington, Oregon, New York and Arizona. At City Mission, we’re proud of our commitment to help veterans. They served us. Now, let’s serve them. In 2018, we opened the doors to our Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House, a 22-bed facility built specifically to house our veterans program, led by veterans and designed to meet the specific needs of homeless veterans. This program supports our veterans as they navigate through the most challenging times of the lives, not only by helping to heal their bodies and minds but also by restoring their faith in God. “I thought I came to the Mission because I needed surgery, but God brought me here to learn lessons of humility and faith and trust. The people here have really been a blessing for me. The Mission has helped me to heal, and it has also given me an opportunity to be of service to God by serving others. I’m completely healed now. I feel great. I got my energy back. I couldn’t have done it without God, but City Mission has been the vessel.” -John, US Army Veteran Even though we are excited about our work with veterans, we know there is more work to be done. Here are some facts you should know about homeless veterans and how you can help. Veterans Are More Likely to Become Homeless Veterans are more likely to become homeless than non-veterans. PTSD, substance abuse, and a lack of affordable housing all contribute to this. Although they make up only 7% of the general population, veterans represent about 13% of the homeless adult population. Opioid Addiction Fuels Homelessness Among Veterans Opioid addiction is a significant problem among homeless veterans. Many turn to opioids to deal with pain and mental health issues, but it ends up worsening their situation and eventually destroying their lives. Veterans are twice as likely to die from opioid overdose than the general population. Rising Homelessness Among Female Veterans Homelessness among female veterans has risen sharply, increasing nearly 24% from 2020 to 2023. This highlights the need for gender-specific support. Female veterans face unique challenges, including higher rates of sexual trauma and family instability. At City Mission, female veterans stay in our Women’s shelter or Women with Children Shelter, and they participate in our homeless veterans’ program. Racial Disparities Among Veterans African American and Hispanic veterans are disproportionately affected by homelessness. They face higher risks of mental health and substance abuse disorders, as well as higher rates of homelessness compared to white veterans. Veteran Homelessness Sees Significant Increase Veteran homelessness has spiked significantly, the largest increase in 12 years. There was a 7.4% rise in veteran homelessness from 2022 to 2023. The end of pandemic-related eviction moratoriums and a lack of affordable housing are major factors. Thousands of Veterans Sleep on the Streets Every Night Despite efforts, about 35,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. This shows the ongoing challenge and the need for continued support to address veteran homelessness effectively. Veterans Need Our Help Veterans have given so much to protect our country and the freedoms that make us proud to be Americans. Yet, many face the harsh reality of homelessness when they return to civilian life. Whether due to PTSD, substance abuse, or just a lack of affordable housing, it’s our duty to take care of our former service members and show them the same respect, support, and compassion they showed us through their service. The rising number of female veterans experiencing homelessness and the significant spikes in overall veteran homelessness make it clear: our veterans need our support and by coming together as a community, we can ensure our Vets get the help they deserve. How You Can Help There are many ways to donate to continue to support City Mission’s efforts at the Crabtree-Kovacicek Veterans house. Donate online, by check to City Mission, 84 W Wheeling St, Washington, PA 15301, or call (724) 222-8530 Sources/References: https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2023/11/08/the-changing-face-of-americas-veteran-population/ https://www.dmva.pa.gov/Veterans/SpecialInitiatives/Pages/HomelessVeterans.aspx https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/homeless-population-by-state https://news.va.gov/126913/veteran-homelessness-increased-by-7-4-in-2023/ https://www.research.va.gov/topics/homelessness.cfm#:~:text=Veterans%20discharged%20for%20misconduct%20have,dramatically%20higher%20rates%20of%20homelessness https://americanaddictioncenters.org/veterans/opioid-addiction https://counciloncj.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/pdf-racial-disparities-among-veterans.pdf https://www.military.com/daily-news/2024/01/31/va-sets-annual-record-placing-homeless-veterans-housing-sheltering-more-46000-people.html#:~:text=The%20number%20of%20homeless%20veterans,by%204%25%20overall%20since%202020.

Standing in the GAP

Homeless man with sign
June 6, 2024

Standing in the GAP The National Low-Income Housing Coalition, a non-profit founded in 1974, produces an annual GAP Report to demonstrate the need for more affordable homes in the United States. In March, they published their 2024 GAP report, which once again shows a dire shortage of affordable housing. “The United States has long faced a significant shortage of affordable rental housing,” the report begins. It goes on to say, “The shortage of affordable housing has worsened over the past few years, exacerbated by rising rent prices and job and wage losses during the pandemic. Although most economic indicators suggest the economy is recovering, the supply of affordable housing for the nation’s lowest-income renters remains deeply inadequate.” The report identifies extremely low-income households and defines them as those “at or below either the federal poverty guideline or 30% of the area median income, whichever is greater.” These households comprise about 25% of all renters in the US, and in 2023 they experienced a “shortage of 7.3 million affordable and available rental homes, resulting in only 34 affordable and available homes for every 100 extremely low-income households.” The 2024 GAP Report also demonstrates that the lack of affordable housing is worse now than before the pandemic, indicating that the shortage of affordable and available housing for extremely low-income households increased by 480,000 between 2019 and 2022. And an unbelievable 74% of all extremely low-income households are severely cost-burdened, meaning that they spend over 50% of their income on rent. These statistics are devastating, but at City Mission, we know that our model for restoring individuals to independent living has been working in Washington County and beyond for 83 years. We believe that our Christ-centered and holistic approach to life-recovery can truly change lives and transform a community. And we are assured that many of you believe that too, because you continue to overwhelm us with your compassionate and generous giving. You are truly making a positive impact in a world and a community in need. In 2023, City Mission helped 158 individuals and families find sustainable housing. We helped 129 of our residents obtain jobs. We served 1,436 neighbors in need this past year with an overall success rate of 69% for those who stayed at least 90 days. The need in the US and in our community is growing…but so is City Mission. Just last month, we broke ground on a new shelter for homeless women. Sally’s Sanctuary will house 50 women in our long-term program, nearly doubling our capacity to serve homeless women and increasing overall capacity from 174 beds to over 200. Your support of City Mission can change the world one life at a time. Supporting City Mission is one way you can stand in the gap for those in need. Visit www.citymission.org to learn more.

Preventing Summer Hunger

Boy eating lunch
June 3, 2024

Preventing Summer Hunger School meals play a crucial role in ensuring the health and nutrition of many children in our community. However, when school is out for the summer, those who rely on free meals face an increased risk of hunger. Unfortunately, in our communities, the meal provided at school is often the only substantial one some children receive each day. The Impact: The lack of sufficient food during the summer months can lead to heightened behavioral and emotional issues in children. This food insecurity also places additional stress on parents, impacting their mental health. Parents who struggle to provide for their families face increased stress and anxiety, affecting their mental health and overall well-being. How You Can Help: Your support can make a significant difference in preventing this summer hunger crisis. You can help relieve the anxiety of parents and ensure that children receive the nutrition they need during the summer. Join us in our mission to combat summer hunger at City Mission! 1. Monetary Donations: Your contribution during our Love Your Neighbor Campaign can provide an extra meal for a hungry child and support families in need. Donate to our campaign here: http://bit.ly/3R9BQU9 2. In-Kind Contributions: a. In Person: You can donate food items or fresh produce at our Samaritan Care Center, open Monday through Friday, from 10 am to 4 pm. Address: 84 West Wheeling St., Entrance A4, Washington, Pa 15301 b. Online: You can donate food items directly to our food pantry through our Amazon Wish List! View and purchase from our wish list here: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/33Y596BBAEWUZ?ref_=wl_share Together, we can ensure that no family goes hungry this summer. Donate today and make a meaningful impact in your community. Thank you for your support!

"A Place Where Change Can Happen"

Volunteer Manager
April 12, 2024

During National Volunteer Month, we would like to give a special thank you to our incredible family of volunteers. Without all of you, we would not be able to offer all the resources and services that we offer to our residents. By volunteering at City Mission, you are helping to transform lives. Today, if you haven’t already met our new-ish Volunteer Manager, Amanda Blakemore, I would like to introduce you to her. She started at City Mission last October and has successfully navigated through her first Thanksgiving, Christmas, Sweet Sunday, and Easter volunteer seasons. Amanda has proven to be a great asset to our team. She is friendly and compassionate and warm. She communicates clearly and empathetically, and she works extremely hard. Here are some fun facts to help you get to know her a little bit better… 1. Before coming to City Mission, Amanda’s favorite job was as a music teacher in an elementary school. She did that for 10 years. And occasionally, she shares her musical talents with us here at City Mission by singing in our chapel worship services. 2. She listens to all kinds of different music, but Lauren Daigle is one of favorites. 3. Her favorite food is crab legs…or maybe sushi. 4. Her best vacation was a solo trip to Sedona, AZ and the Grand Canyon. She explained, “Just quiet time with God in the beautiful and vast wilderness.” 5. Her dad, Taylor, was a fighter pilot in the Navy and an Ironman triathlete into his sixties. When Amanda was little, she traveled all over the country for triathlons and other long-distance events. Here’s what Amanda had to stay about City Mission… “My favorite thing about City Mission is the people -- staff, residents, and volunteers. I have never been at a place where I experience so much love, and I know that Jesus is working here.” “I think the thing that surprised me most about City Mission was just the size and extent of the operations here. I did not expect a homeless shelter to be such a big, beautiful campus. I was also surprised by how much City Mission offers the residents that live here. It is truly a place where change can happen, because people are given the tools and support they need to succeed and return to independent living.”

Happy Volunteer Month

City Mission Chapel
April 5, 2024

Welcome to National Volunteer Month! Our family of volunteers is an absolutely essential part of our ministry to serve those in need and to restore the homeless to independence. “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:4-5 (Link to Bible Gateway for full chapter: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+12&version=NIV) Together, we all make up the body of Christ, carrying out His work for the “least of these” here in this world, and we are so incredibly grateful for those who dedicate their time, talent, and treasure to support our Mission. Last year we had… 23,011 total volunteer hours 1,918 volunteer hours on average per month 27 locations on and off campus for volunteers to serve in Volunteering has many benefits… For the Community Volunteering at City Mission supports the most vulnerable in our community – those who are suffering and in need. Those we serve are working hard to restore their lives and overcome all the barriers that led them to homelessness. The more love and support they receive while they are here boosts their confidence, gives them hope that their lives can improve, and encourages them to keep working to transform their lives. “The most important thing is the caring relationships that develop between volunteers and residents,” said Jason Johnson, Manager of Support Services at City Mission. “It shows the residents that people genuinely care about them. That builds their self-esteem. You can’t create that. You can’t build a lesson plan for that. That’s just God being God. That’s the beauty of it.” For Physical and Mental Health Studies (link to Mayo Clinic blog post: https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/3-health-benefits-of-volunteering) show that volunteering can reduce stress and anxiety, increase positive and relaxed feelings, lead to lower rates of depression, and provide a sense of meaning and purpose – all of which can lead to better overall wellness and alleviate physical health issues like heart disease and stroke. Volunteering also helps you to get out of your comfort zone, learn new skills, and have exciting, new experiences – all of which help to promote general wellness. For Building Relationships Volunteering can grow your network of friends by helping you to meet passionate people who share similar interests – people who you might not otherwise have had a chance to meet. It can build stronger bonds among families and friend groups by creating positive and lasting shared memories. Volunteering also helps to develop a kind of “social trust” within a community by demonstrating that even in this fast-paced world full of distractions and personal responsibilities, there are still compassionate people who are genuinely working to make the world a better place. Conclusion Volunteerism, especially sustained volunteering on an on-going basis can little by little help to make the world a better place. It helps to improve the lives both of those who are being served and of those who serve. Volunteering at City Mission can work to enhance our programming, shower our residents with care and compassion, and improve the state of our community one soul at a time! To learn more about volunteering at City Mission, please visit: https://www.citymission.org/ways-to-help/volunteer

Looking Forward. Looking Back.

Sunrise at the Mission
March 15, 2024

It’s hard to believe we’re already two and a half months into 2024! After the whirlwind of our Sweet Sunday event and the transition of our President/CEO, we are finally able to catch a breath and reflect. And while we’re looking forward with anticipation to what 2024 will bring, we know that our future successes will be built on the foundation of last year's achievements. In 2023, we embraced resilience and growth, a testament to our commitment and the collective spirit that drives our mission. The year was marked by overcoming challenges, particularly in adapting to a post-pandemic landscape. Our dual focus on delivering comprehensive services to those in need while laying the groundwork for a new women's shelter highlighted our adaptability and determination. We extend our deepest gratitude to the generous donors and our dedicated staff, whose tireless efforts have been pivotal in reaching our goals. Their contributions have enabled us to meet immediate needs and make strides towards long-term solutions. As we reflect on the accomplishments and challenges of 2023, we are filled with optimism for what 2024 can become. Together, we look to the future, ready to face new challenges and seize the opportunities that await. Operational Highlights and Challenges In 2023, City Mission navigated the complex terrain of providing for four distinct homeless populations while forging ahead with plans for a new shelter dedicated to homeless women. This balancing act of addressing immediate needs while planning for the future was no small feat! The result of that effort was not just a continuation of our mission but an enhancement, underscored by impressive HEIRS outcome statistics, with a 69% overall success rate for residents who stay at least 90 days in our program. These achievements highlight our commitment to not just meet but exceed the needs of those we serve. Fundraising Successes The past year also saw us achieving significant milestones in fundraising, particularly for our new women's facility. A significant amount of the funds required to build the new facility have been secured, thanks to the unwavering support of our community. However, we still have a lot more to raise, so please continue to help us bring even more hope to homeless women. The financial backing we received this past year is a testament to the faith our donors place in us and the hard work of our staff and our residents who meet new challenges every day as they fight to restore their lives to purpose and indepedence. We are deeply grateful for this support, which not only sustains our day-to-day operations but also propels us towards our future goals. But we still have a lot more work to do and more funds to raise every single day to continue our mission. Recognition of Service 2023 was a year marked by poignant moments of recognition and remembrance. One such moment was when the Washington County Community Foundation honored Doug Bush, a long-standing member of our team, with the prestigious Louis Waller Humanitarian Award. This award celebrated Doug's lifetime commitment to addiction recovery work and his faithful service to the most vulnerable in Southwestern PA. His recognition came at a particularly challenging time, as Doug was battling cancer. Yet, it was a beautiful testament to his impact, showing the deep respect and admiration our community holds for those who dedicate their lives to serving others. Sadly, we lost Doug in October. His passing was a profound loss, felt deeply by all who were fortunate enough to know him. We remember Doug not just for his contributions to City Mission but for the spirit of hope and love he embodied! Support and Successes Despite the challenges faced, City Mission's commitment to providing a pathway to independence for our residents remained resolute. In 2023, we were able to offer an impressive array of services, including 131,252 meals, 46,455 bed nights, 484 ID cards, 210 educational and career assessments, 189 financial training classes, and 14,997 medical clinical services. These figures represent more than just numbers; they reflect the lives touched and the hope restored through our work. Our efforts extended beyond basic needs, encompassing comprehensive support designed to propel our residents towards self-sufficiency and a brighter future. The success of these programs is a tribute to the dedication of our staff and the generosity of our supporters, illustrating the tangible difference we can make when we come together for a common purpose. Looking Toward the Future As we celebrate the milestones achieved in 2023 and navigate the challenges, our journey into 2024 is filled with hope and determination. The establishment of the new women's shelter, which is scheduled to break ground in May, is a beacon of our ongoing commitment to extend our reach and deepen our impact. This project, pivotal to our mission, represents just one of the many ways we strive to serve those in need with dignity and compassion. How You Can Help: • Donations: Every contribution, large or small, fuels our ability to provide essential services. We invite you to join us in making a difference by donating through our website or participating in our fundraising campaigns. Your generosity can transform lives and empower individuals to achieve independence. • Volunteer Opportunities: Our volunteers are the heartbeat of our mission. Whether you're looking to serve meals, assist in our events, or lend your expertise to professional services, your time and talents can have a profound impact. • Event Participation: Events like Sweet Sunday not only raise crucial funds but also bring our community together in celebration of what we can achieve collectively. Please mark your calendars and stay tuned for our upcoming events in 2024. As we look to the future, we are reminded of the power of collective action and the difference we can make when we all work together. For more information on how you can make a difference, visit our ways to help page or call us at 724-222-8530. If you need our services, please reach out to our support team.

Passing the Torch

City Mission President/CEO, Diana Irey Vaughan
March 8, 2024

On Monday, March 4, in City Mission’s Porter Pillow and Peggie Beaver Pillow Chapel, Dean Gartland hosted his final weekly chapel service as President/CEO, and he introduced former Washington County Commissioner, Diana Irey Vaughan, as his successor. “We have a tremendous new journey in front of us,” Gartland said. “I’m excited for City Mission and what’s going to happen here in the future. This Mission belongs to Christ, and He cares about everyone in this place.” When Gartland introduced Irey Vaughan as the new President/CEO, he explained that, “God has prepared her to step into this role and to continue persevering through the trials that will come at City Mission.” Next, new President/CEO Diana Irey Vaughan took the podium and introduced herself to the audience of staff members and residents. She spoke briefly about her upbringing in West Virginia and her 28-year career as a Washington County Commissioner. “I became very involved with City Mission during my time as a Commissioner,” she explained. “God always put it on my heart to serve others, and when I saw the impact that the Mission was having in people’s lives, I really grew to love it. I’m so excited to be a part of the family here at City Mission.” She went on to say that Gartland has left very large shoes to fill in the position. “It’s a little intimidating actually,” she said. “Dean has done a tremendous job!” After that, several City Mission residents spoke up. One resident said, “I want to thank City Mission for saving my life.” Another resident said, “God is moving here at City Mission, and He’s going to continue to move in this place.” We pray that City Mission continues to be a light in the darkness for another 83 years. Please support our ongoing mission to share Christ, to shelter, to heal, and to restore the homeless to independent living – without discrimination. Visit www.citymission.org/donate.

City Mission Announces March 2024 Retirement of CEO and Names Successor

Dean and Diana
November 2, 2023

After fifteen years of service to City Mission in Washington PA, Dean Gartland, current President/CEO, will change his role to President Emeritus starting March 1, 2024. After assisting the mission with its important leadership transition, Gartland plans his full retirement after September 30, 2024. Starting at the mission in 2008, Gartland served as Director of Programs and Vice President before assuming the President/CEO position in 2010. Under his leadership tenure, City Mission increased its available beds from 96 to 175, and increased its annual budget from $2.5M to $8M. After a devastating fire in 2015, Gartland supervised the $18M capital campaign that established the four main individual shelters the mission has today: Men, Women, Women with Children, and Veterans. During this campaign he provided the vision necessary to recognize the growing needs in the homeless population which added two additional shelters: Veterans and Women with Children. City Mission’s growth is due in part to Gartland’s cultivation of large Pittsburgh area grants such as FHLB-Pittsburgh, RK Mellon and the Allegheny Foundation. Another contributor to growth is his relentless pursuit to get the word out about the works of the mission and innovations such as his “Hope for Homeless” podcast. His development of an outcomes measurement system for the mission has been a proven tool to showcase the mission’s success, both in his grant and relationship work for the mission. “We have a great model for moving the homeless men and women to independent living that allows us to keep robust outcome measures in Housing, Employment, Income, Recovery, and Spirituality (HEIRS),” he said. “Grants and Foundations are always looking to the end results of their investments, and we’ve been able to provide important metrics that prove the efficacy of our programs.” Among his achievements for City Mission, Gartland also established a 60,000 square foot Vocational Training Center/Donation Center and expanded City Mission’s network of Thrift Stores from three to eight. “Our Thrift Stores give all profits back to the Mission,“ he said. “Last year, they provided $500,000 to programs and services for the homeless.” Gartland will serve as President Emeritus at City Mission from March 1, 2024, to September 30, 2024, working in an advisory capacity to the board and senior leadership team, and serving as a fundraiser for the new 50-bed shelter for homeless women that the City Mission is building in 2024. City Mission considers itself blessed to have benefited from Gartland’s years of service and dedication, which has positively impact thousands of lives around our region. When Gartland announced his plans for retirement a year ago, City Mission’s Board of Directors went through the detailed process of selection. The Board identified Diana Irey Vaughan as Gartland’s possible successor and Gartland agreed she is the right person to lead City Mission. Now City Mission is proud to announce that Diana Irey Vaughan has accepted the role as President/CEO starting March 1, 2024. Gartland says, “I am happy Diana has agreed to serve in this important role. City Mission's board and leadership team have worked closely with Diana over the years on large projects, and we are confident she will provide the leadership that is necessary to continue restoring lives through the mission’s programs and services.” Elected County Commissioner in 1995, Irey Vaughan is Washington County’s longest serving Commissioner, now serving her seventh term of office; she is also the only woman to have ever served in this position. She is a leader in economic development, establishing a public-private partnership in 1999 with the Washington County Chamber of Commerce that created a unified delivery system for economic development efforts. She played a key role in the development of Southpointe I and II, having co-chaired the Western Center Land Reuse Task Force, and has been instrumental in the progress of California Technology Park. She was named one of the top “60 Pittsburghers of the Year” by Pittsburgh Magazine in 1999. Through her insistence on long-range planning, low tax rate, and a unified economic delivery plan, Irey Vaughan has helped to foster an environment that brought more than 6,000 new jobs, ranking Washington County third in the nation in job growth by U.S. Department of Labor in 2010. Irey Vaughan is also well-known for her support of area humanitarian efforts, charities, and non-profits. She has served on numerous boards and task forces during her tenure that benefited the region. She also won the Washington County Athena Award in 2014 and the American Legion Medal of Honor in 2015. In 2017-2018, Irey Vaughan served on the City Mission Capital Campaign Steering Committee and raised over $100,000 for City Mission through her long-distance runs. Upon accepting this new role, Irey Vaughan says “City Mission has long been a valuable asset to our community, caring for our neighbors in need and transforming lives now and for eternity. I am humbled and honored to be chosen as the next President/CEO of City Mission.” With all of Irey Vaughn’s experience and knowledge of the region, coupled with her desire to help those in need, City Mission looks forward to her leadership to continue to build on the mission’s 82-year history and take it into the future. About City Mission: For over 82 years, City Mission in Washington, PA, 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.

Homeless Shelter Donations

City Mission Chapel
September 29, 2023

In a world often filled with uncertainties and challenges, there's an undeniable power in giving. As compassionate individuals, we're blessed with the ability to uplift those facing difficult circumstances. Homelessness is a reality that touches many lives, and donating to a homeless shelter, like City Mission, can make a profound impact on the journey toward brighter days. The Significance of Giving Donating to a homeless shelter goes beyond simply providing necessities—it's an opportunity to restore hope, dignity, and a sense of belonging to those who need it most. Your support allows homeless shelters like ours to offer more than just meals and shelter; it enables us to provide comprehensive solutions that address the root causes of homelessness. We equip individuals with the tools they need to rebuild their lives through education, training, recovery programs, and spiritual support. In 2022, we served 1,145 individuals from all walks of life, offering over 105,000 meals, 38,000 nights of shelter, and 17,000 medical clinic services. We also helped 116 individuals obtain jobs and placed 140 people in their very own home. Your generosity can make an enormous impact in your community and beyond. General Ways to Donate or Give Have you ever thought about how you can help the homeless? You may have wondered what or how to give. The good news is that there are many ways you can make a real difference in the lives of those who need it. Whether you want to provide immediate help, create lasting change, or show kindness, your actions matter a lot. 1. Financial Donations: Providing financial support is a direct way to make an impact. Monetary contributions enable shelters to allocate resources where they are needed most, from housing assistance to program development. Many rescue missions, including us, don't accept government funding. We rely solely on the compassion and generosity of friends like you to raise the $8 million it takes annually to bring hope to the homeless in Washington County. 2. Material Donations: Donating clothing, shoes, blankets, and personal hygiene items helps meet immediate needs. Shelters often provide a list of urgently needed items to guide your donations. 3. Food Donations: Contributing non-perishable food items or organizing food drives can help ensure that individuals experiencing homelessness have access to nutritious meals. 4. Volunteer Time: Giving your time as a volunteer can be as valuable as financial donations. Many shelters rely on volunteers for tasks ranging from meal preparation to mentoring. 5. Fundraising Initiatives: Organizing fundraisers or participating in charity events can have a significant impact. This might include charity runs, bake sales or online crowdfunding campaigns. 6. Gift Cards: Providing gift cards for grocery stores, pharmacies, or clothing retailers gives individuals the flexibility to purchase what they need most. 7. Professional Services: Offering your skills, such as legal advice, medical services, or career counseling, can directly benefit shelter residents. 8. Awareness Campaigns: Spreading awareness about homelessness and the work of shelters through social media, storytelling, or public speaking can inspire others to give. Choosing a Homeless Shelter Deciding to contribute to a homeless shelter is a meaningful choice, reflecting your compassion and desire to make a positive impact. However, ensuring that your donation truly benefits those in need is essential. Taking a thoughtful approach and doing your due diligence before donating can help you maximize the impact of your generosity. Here are some considerations to guide you in selecting the right homeless shelter to support: 1. Mission and Values: Research the shelter's mission and values. Look for alignment with your values and beliefs to ensure your contribution makes a meaningful impact. 2. Programs and Services: Explore the range of programs offered. A holistic approach, like our HEIRS Model, addresses various aspects of homelessness, from housing and employment to recovery and spirituality. 3. Transparency and Accountability: Choose a homeless shelter that is transparent about how donations are used. Check if they are a registered nonprofit organization and adhere to ethical practices. 4. Community Impact: Consider the shelter's impact on the local community. How do they collaborate with other organizations to address homelessness collectively? 5. Volunteer Opportunities: If you're able, explore volunteer opportunities. Your time and skills can complement your financial contributions. 4 Ways to Make a Difference at City Mission Through the support of donors and volunteers, we provide services such as meals, shelter, education, recovery programs, and more, all with the goal of empowering individuals to rebuild their lives and achieve independence. Your contribution matters, and there are multiple ways you can help us make a lasting impact on the lives of the less fortunate. 1. Donating Financially: Your financial support paves the way for real change in the lives of the homeless individuals and families we serve. Whether providing a warm meal, a safe place to sleep, or vital training, your generosity empowers us to offer comprehensive solutions for lasting transformation. Donations can be made online or sent to our address at 84 W. Wheeling Street, Washington, PA 15301. To make a secure online donation, visit our donation page. 2. Donate Assets: Contributing assets such as cash, stock, or other investments through a Donor Advised Fund is a strategic way to make a difference. Partner with your financial advisor to set up a fund that supports charities of your choice, including City Mission. These funds provide immediate tax benefits while allowing you to recommend grants to qualified charities. For more information, contact Dr. Sally Mounts, Chief Development Officer, at 724-705-7122 or smounts@citymission.org. 3. Shop for a Cause: When you shop at a City Mission Thrift Store, 100% of the proceeds directly support our Life Recovery Programs. Visit our eight conveniently-located stores for quality finds that create positive change. You can also find us on Amazon Wishlist, where your purchases benefit the homeless and in-need communities we serve. 4. Donate Goods: Your excess items can become life-changing resources for those in need. We accept many items, including clothing, electronics, furniture, household goods, books, etc. These donations directly contribute to our efforts to restore hope and independence. To find out what items we can accept, visit our Ways to Help page. Join Us in Making a Difference Today City Mission is dedicated to creating positive change, and your involvement is crucial to our success. Your donations create hope, leading to lasting transformation and renewed independence for those we serve. Together, we can empower individuals to overcome obstacles and achieve meaningful change.

82 Years of Bringing Hope to the Homeless

Burt and Avis McCausland
July 14, 2023

This past week, I walked past an old, framed photo on the wall in our Administration building. It was a picture of Reverend Burt McCausland and his wife, Avis. 82 years ago, Rev. McCausland founded City Mission, and together, he and his wife operated the homeless shelter for 35 years. Everything that City Mission has become today began as Rev. McCausland’s vision and his prayers for a safe, welcoming place for those who had lost all hope. In 1940, Rev. McCausland, age 29, was co-owner of a small store in downtown Washington. He and his sister, Dorothy, were on the steps talking out in front of the store one night. Next door was a bar. The door of the bar suddenly swung open and two men tossed a little, old man out onto the sidewalk. The old man tried to stand up, but he couldn’t. He fell several times. Eventually, the police came and hauled him away. The encounter left Rev. McCausland in tears, and he vowed to find a way to have a place for people like that little, old man – a place where they could be treated with compassion and kindness. On February 8, 1941, he made good on his promise when he founded City Mission in a small storefront on South Main Street. It all started with a service, a meal, and few makeshift beds on the floor. Avis Pattison was the pianist and singer for McCausland’s first services at City Mission. In September of 1943, McCausland and Pattison were married, and they became co-superintendents of the Mission. By 1945, City Mission was an established and respected pillar in the community, having offered over 5,000 meals and 3,000 nights of shelter since its inception. Rev. McCausland personally wrote letters to community members several times a year asking for donations. And he wrote thank you letters as often as he could. In 1947, WJPA radio began a weekly broadcast called the “Amazing Grace” program, which was hosted by Rev. McCausland for the next 30 years. Together, the Rev. and Mrs. McCausland conducted regular services at the Mission, a weekly service at the County Jail, and open-air services on the Courthouse steps, with Rev. McCausland preaching the Word and Avis providing the music. City Mission grew very quickly, and soon, they were offering Sunday School classes and child evangelism classes. Eventually, they opened a Gospel bookstore to help raise extra funds. Soon after that, they opened their first Thrift Store and began a recycling enterprise to supplement their fundraising efforts. In 1957, City Mission provided 24,522 meals and 8,233 nights of shelter. And the Mission continued to grow and to help more and more people change their lives and reconnect with their families. Rev. McCausland kept meticulous records, and in the 35 years that he and his wife ran the Mission, they were able to help 35,000 people in need. Together, they led the Mission until 1977, when Avis passed away. Reverend McCausland retired and moved to Florida. He knew if he stayed anywhere near Washington, he would be at the Mission every day, and he didn’t want to interfere with the new leadership. He passed away in 1985. His funeral was held in the City Mission chapel. 81 years later, in 2022, City Mission provided over 105,000 meals and 38,000 nights of shelter. We distributed over 7,000 bags of groceries for the community and offered more than 17,000 services in our medical clinic. The Mission has expanded to serve four separate homeless populations across five distinct shelters, with a 170-bed capacity. We operate 8 Thrift Stores, offer medical services at our on-campus medical clinic, and run a Career Training and Education Center than helped 116 men and women find jobs in the past year. I hope that if the McCauslands were still alive today and if they came to take a tour of our campus, they would be happy with the ways we are serving the community. I believe they would appreciate the love we show every day to our residents and the small kindnessess that are evident in every room on our campus. We invite you to come and visit us and take a tour of City Mission. If you haven’t been here in the past five years, you will be amazed at all the changes. Come and check us out! And see what 82 years of bringing hope to the homeless looks like. Call us at 724-222-8530 to schedule a tour or visit our website at www.citymission.org.

HEIRS Model: Empowering Transformation through Holistic Care

City Mission Jesus Saves
June 22, 2023

In a previous blog post, we provided an overview of the HEIRS model's history and background. In this article, we shift our focus to the unique aspects of the HEIRS components, highlighting their critical role in addressing the diverse needs of individuals experiencing homelessness. By examining each element in detail, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of how the HEIRS model guides our programs and fosters lasting change. The Significance of the HEIRS Model: What sets City Mission apart is our unwavering commitment to achieving tangible results. While we recognize the importance of providing immediate necessities like housing and meals, our focus extends beyond these essential services. The HEIRS Model allows us to measure outcomes, track progress, and continuously improve our programs. By prioritizing results, we can effectively break the cycle of homelessness and empower individuals to lead fulfilling lives. Housing: Stable Shelter as a Foundation The "H" in the HEIRS model represents "Housing." Housing is a fundamental component of our approach to addressing homelessness and is recognized as a critical first step towards stability and independence. Within the HEIRS model, the focus on housing goes beyond providing a temporary shelter. City Mission is dedicated to offering safe, stable, and supportive housing options that empower individuals to rebuild their lives. The goal is to create an environment where people can thrive and make progress towards their personal and professional goals. Our housing initiatives encompass various programs tailored to meet the diverse needs of individuals and families. These initiatives include emergency shelters, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing. Each program is designed to offer not only physical space but also comprehensive support services, including case management, life skills training, employment assistance, and access to healthcare and mental health services. By addressing the immediate need for housing and providing ongoing support, City Mission aims to break the cycle of homelessness and equip individuals with the tools and resources they need to achieve long-term stability. Employment: Building Pathways to Sustainable Work Employment is a key element in breaking the cycle of homelessness, as it provides individuals with the opportunity to gain a stable income, improve their financial situation, and regain their independence. We believe that sustainable employment is instrumental in fostering long-term stability and self-sufficiency for the individuals we serve. Our approach to employment within the HEIRS model is comprehensive, encompassing a range of initiatives and services designed to equip individuals with the skills, knowledge, and support they need to succeed in the job market. Through our job readiness training programs, we ensure that individuals are equipped with essential skills and prepared to confidently enter the workforce. These programs cover a variety of topics, including resume writing, interview techniques, workplace etiquette, and job search strategies. By providing tailored workshops and individualized coaching, we empower individuals to navigate the job market with confidence and competence. To enhance employability, we offer vocational skills development programs that focus on honing specific job-related skills. Participants have the opportunity to receive training in various industries, such as culinary arts, construction, customer service, office administration, and more. Our goal is to align training opportunities with local employment needs and individual interests, ensuring that individuals are equipped with in-demand skills. We firmly believe that by addressing the employment needs of individuals experiencing homelessness, we can empower them to break free from the cycle of poverty, regain their self-sufficiency, and thrive in their communities. Income: Financial Stability for Long-Term Success The "I" in our HEIRS model stands for "Income," reflecting our recognition of the critical role that financial stability and income play in helping individuals rebuild their lives. We are dedicated to helping people secure and manage sustainable income that supports their journey toward independence and long-term stability. Income is more than just a paycheck—it represents the means by which individuals can meet their basic needs, afford housing, access healthcare, and support themselves and their families. Our focus on the "Income" component within the HEIRS model aims to empower individuals with the knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to achieve financial well-being and break free from the cycle of poverty. We provide comprehensive financial literacy and money management programs that equip individuals with the tools to make informed financial decisions. Our workshops cover topics such as budgeting, saving, debt management, and financial planning. By fostering financial literacy, we empower individuals to develop healthy financial habits, set realistic goals, and effectively manage their income to meet their needs both now and in the future. Recovery: Overcoming Drug and Alcohol Addiction The "R" in our HEIRS model stands for "Recovery," a vital element in our holistic approach at City Mission. We recognize that people experiencing homelessness often face significant obstacles in the form of drug and alcohol addiction, hindering their path to independence. Consequently, we are dedicated to addressing these challenges head-on and providing unwavering support to individuals on their journey toward recovery. Upon entering our program, individuals undergo a thorough assessment to identify their specific needs and identify any barriers related to drug and alcohol addiction. We offer an array of services, both on our campus and in collaboration with external treatment providers, to address these challenges effectively. Our primary objective is to connect individuals with the appropriate resources and treatment modalities, enabling them to overcome addiction and establish a solid foundation for sustained recovery. While on our campus, individuals have access to a variety of support mechanisms, including group sessions, educational classes, and participation in 12-step recovery programs. We believe that recovery can take many forms, and our approach aims to provide individuals with diverse avenues to address their addiction and regain control of their lives. Spirituality: Nurturing the Inner Journey Spirituality is a cornerstone of the HEIRS model at City Mission, recognizing the profound impact it has on an individual's journey to recovery and overall well-being. We acknowledge that spirituality is a deeply personal and unique aspect of each person's life, encompassing beliefs, values, and the search for meaning and purpose. The spiritual component of the HEIRS model encourages individuals to connect with their inner selves, seek spiritual guidance, and discover sources of inspiration and strength. It offers an opportunity for self-reflection, introspection, and the exploration of values that can guide individuals towards a more fulfilling and purposeful life. Within our program, individuals have the opportunity to engage in activities that nurture their spiritual well-being. These may include meditation sessions, mindfulness practices, prayer groups, spiritual counseling, or participation in faith-based programs if desired. We also foster an atmosphere of acceptance, respect, and non-judgment, allowing individuals to freely express and explore their spiritual beliefs without fear of prejudice or exclusion. Measuring Success with the HEIRS Model: City Mission is committed to delivering measurable results through the HEIRS Model. We track success by monitoring housing stability, employment retention, income growth, recovery milestones, and spiritual development. This data-driven approach enables us to evaluate the effectiveness of our programs, make informed adjustments, and ensure that individuals receive the support they need for long-term success. Our HEIRS Model is a testament to our dedication to transforming the lives of homeless individuals. By addressing the components of Housing, Employment, Income, Recovery, and Spirituality, we offer a holistic approach that empowers individuals to overcome barriers and achieve lasting independence. Your support can make a life-changing difference for individuals on their journey to recovery and independence. By donating to City Mission, you can directly contribute to the success of the HEIRS model and help transform lives.

HEIRS to the Kingdom

Dean at the Whiteboard
June 2, 2023

City Mission’s HEIRS model is a proprietary method for tracking the effectiveness of our programs and services in helping residents move from homelessness to independence. For every resident, we evaluate their progress throughout their stay at the Mission in these five categories: housing, employment, income, recovery, and spirituality. We believe that success in these five areas can lead to life transformation. “Our program is designed to get results,” explained City Mission President/CEO Dean Gartland, who pioneered this model 19 years ago. By focusing on these outcomes, we can identify strengths and weaknesses within our program and formulate strategies for improvement–with the goal of helping as many people as possible find success on their journey to independence. In 2004, Gartland began a research project to identify how agencies who work with the homeless measure success. His goals were to create a data-driven model for evaluating the success of homelessness programs and also to collect key data points to demonstrate programmatic success to donors and grant-funding agencies.Gartland devised a questionnaire that he sent out to numerous organizations, asking them a series of questions regarding how they measure the success of their programs. The responses to his questionnaire identified five key metrics common across nearly all of these agencies: housing, employment, income, recovery, and spirituality. And the HEIRS model was born.Gartland adopted James 2:5 as the Biblical foundation of the HEIRS program. It reads, “Listen, my dear brothers: Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that He has promised to those who love Him?”When he came to City Mission in 2008 as Vice President and Director of Programs, Gartland introduced his HEIRS model to City Mission and began building a program around it. The effectiveness of the program was immediately apparent, and Gartland was appointed President/CEO of City Mission two years later. Today, our current Director of Residential Programs, Leah Dietrich, still uses HEIRS as the primary method for evaluating the success of our programs. “HEIRS is the proof in the pudding that our program is working,” she explained. “And it also shows us areas where we need to improve. Over time, we began to see that our residents need different things, their barries are changing. Recently, we have seen a skewing of age toward a younger demographic who are finding themselves homeless. And the HEIRS model helps us to see how we can adjust to best meet those needs.”One of the amazing things about the HEIRS model is that it is not just valuable organizationally, but it is also incredibly helpful to our residents as a tool for monitoring their individual progress through our program. Gartland continues to emphasize the importance of making sure that residents know about the goals and outcomes when they come into the program, so our staff can work alongside them to help them achieve success, because our success as an organization is just a function of our residents’ individual successes as they move from homelessness to independence. Dietrich agrees. “It’s exciting for our residentsto track their progress, and it’s exciting for us to see our residents move through that struggle and find their a-ha moments along the way. Our residents will complete a self-assessment and then compare it to our Housing Coordinator’s assessment of their progress, and it can start a valuable conversation and help us work together to establish goals and create personalized treatment plans with each resident.”Between 2017-2020, using the HEIRS model, City Mission achieved an overall success rate of 64% including a 78% success rate in finding sustainable housing.Those successes are a testament to the diligent work of our residents and staff working together to establish and achieve personal goals to overcome barriers, and our proprietary HEIRS model facilitates the collaboration that generates that continued success.You can partner with us in our mission to bring hope to the homeless. Please consider donating today at http://www.citymission.org/donate. Thank you for your compassion for those in need.

Causes of Homelessness: Understanding the Problem

Homeless man looking at cup
May 23, 2023

At City Mission, we know firsthand the damaging effects of homelessness on Pennsylvania's individuals, families, and communities. And while there are many causes of homelessness, losing a job, medical bills, domestic violence, addiction, and mental illness are significant factors or triggers that may lead to homelessness. While identifying the causes of homelessness is important, homelessness is a symptom of deeper social and economic problems that require comprehensive solutions. This article will delve into these complex factors and explore our efforts to address them while providing essential services and resources to those in need. As a Christ-Centered organization, we believe that every person is made in the image of God and deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. We are dedicated to being a compassionate force for good, positively impacting our community by providing love and support to struggling individuals. Job Loss: A Common Precursor to Homelessness Job loss is a key driver of homelessness. Economic uncertainties have resulted in many individuals losing their jobs, often due to layoffs or circumstances beyond their control. This sudden decline in income and the rising cost of living can snowball into financial instability, further complicating the ability to meet basic needs such as paying rent, purchasing food, or seeking healthcare. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, "Unemployment and underemployment are significant drivers of homelessness, particularly for those who lack a strong social network or other support systems. Job loss or wage reductions can quickly lead to the inability to pay for housing, and subsequently, homelessness." We believe in the value of work and the dignity that comes from being able to support oneself and one's family. We strive to support individuals by providing job training and employment assistance programs that help them regain their financial footing and become self-sufficient. Medical Bills: A Barrier to Stability Another root cause of homelessness is medical bills. Unfortunately, healthcare costs in the United States can be exorbitant, and many people find themselves facing overwhelming medical debt. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, has projected national health expenditures to grow at an annual rate of 5.4 percent from 2019 to 2028, outpacing inflation and economic growth. When individuals cannot pay their medical bills or lose income due to medical-related issues, they may find themselves at risk of eviction or foreclosure. At City Mission, we work to connect individuals who are experiencing homelessness with healthcare resources. Our medical clinic provides acute medical care and bridges primary care services for residents and the community. Domestic Violence: A Leading Cause of Homelessness for Women Did you know that domestic violence is a significant contributor to homelessness for women and children? Those escaping abuse often have no other options and can find themselves without a secure living situation. "Up to 50% of all homeless women and children in the United States are fleeing from domestic violence. Among women who are homeless, over 90% have experienced severe physical or sexual abuse at some point in their lives." (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, "Domestic Violence and Homelessness") Our organization offers a secure and empathetic space for those affected by domestic violence. We have an 11-suite residence where families can find shelter together. Our facility offers childcare so that mothers have the same opportunities to participate in our long-term programming, just like our other residents. Mental Illness and Homelessness Mental illness is a major factor in homelessness, with an estimated 20-25% of the homeless population in the U.S. living with a severe mental illness. The stigma surrounding mental health issues can make it difficult for individuals to access the care and support they need, leading to untreated mental health conditions and potentially dangerous situations. Additionally, studies indicate that homelessness can worsen pre-existing mental health concerns, making overcoming these hurdles and securing a steady home more challenging. We recognize mental illness's significant impact on homelessness and have developed programs and services to support those struggling with these challenges. Our recovery programming includes access to mental health counseling, case management, and peer support groups. These resources are designed to help individuals experiencing homelessness with mental illness to stabilize and achieve long-term recovery. Addiction: Addressing the Underlying Issues Homelessness and substance abuse often go hand in hand, with up to two-thirds of homeless individuals struggling with drugs or alcohol. The National Coalition for the Homeless reports that substance abuse exacerbates challenges in finding and keeping stable housing, managing finances, and accessing essential resources like healthcare. Addressing this issue is critical to improving the lives of the homeless population. We are proud to offer addiction treatment programs and support services to help those in need overcome addiction and regain control of their lives. Our unique approach combines 12-step recovery with biblical teachings to overcome addictive behaviors. Homelessness is a Complex Issue Homelessness is a multifaceted problem. Our responsibility is to assist those who require help with empathy and kindness. By providing job training, healthcare access, supporting survivors of domestic violence, and addiction treatment through a Christ-centered program, we tackle the various causes of homelessness and offer the necessary support and care for those impacted by it. If you are passionate about ending homelessness and want to make a difference in the lives of those in need, we encourage you to consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution can help us provide life-changing programs and resources to those experiencing homelessness.

Caring for the Homeless with a Christ-Centered Approach

hands joined together at church
April 13, 2023

"If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." - James 2:15-17 Unfortunately, homelessness remains a grim reality for many individuals in the United States. In Pennsylvania alone, thousands of people lack safe shelter on any given night. This alarming fact speaks to our community's difficult realities. And homelessness is a challenge across all ages, races, and backgrounds; its effects are far-reaching as it carries severe consequences to physical health and implications on mental and emotional well-being. At City Mission, we understand that homelessness is not only about the lack of housing but a multi-faceted problem that needs an expansive response to identify and tackle its root causes. Through providing individuals and families with access to resources and life-changing programs, our mission endeavors to help those affected gain stability & independence once again. Our faith-based organization attempts to go beyond providing resources and services - by embracing Christ's unconditional love, we create holistic experiences that offer both physical renewal and spiritual nourishment backed by an abundance of compassion. Our commitment to this kind of individualized care is what sets us apart and makes us unique. What Does This Look Like for Our Residents? "And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'"- Matthew 25:40 City Mission aims to provide comfort and care to all in need. We recognize that everyone is valuable and worthy of respect regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or faith. Just as the apostles were called upon to help "the least of these," our organization provides safe refuge for the homeless while also tending to their physical, emotional and spiritual needs, leveraging faith-based values such as kindness and love within an atmosphere grounded in Christian principles. Incorporating Christian principles into the care of the homeless is crucial in creating a holistic and compassionate environment. By upholding values such as love, forgiveness, and selflessness, we hope to provide a sense of dignity and hope to those who may feel neglected by society and their community. Through our mission to share Christ, shelter, heal, and restore the homeless to independent living, we truly fulfill the call to action outlined in Matthew chapter 25 to help those in need and demonstrate the power of love in action. City Mission 2022 Highlights In 2022, with the help of our donors and volunteers, we served over 1100 unique individuals and 116 jobs were obtained through our career training and education center. Below are additional highlights from last year. City Mission provided: • 105,440 Meals • 38,039 Bed Nights • 7,033 Bags of Food for the community • 17,412 medical clinic services * If you like to learn more about our results in 2022, please review our 2022 Annual Report. We are thrilled to share the meaningful results of our supporters' contributions and are grateful to all who have supported our mission to serve the homeless with compassion, love, and faith. Your generosity has allowed us to make a meaningful impact in the lives of those in need, and we hope that you will continue to partner with us in this important work. As we move forward, we are devoted to reaching even more individuals and families who are struggling with homelessness. Donate Today With your support, we can continue to provide shelter, healing, and a path toward independence. Please consider donating today and help us make a difference in the lives of those seeking hope and a better future. Every donation, big or small, helps us fulfill this mission and bring light to those in need. Thank you for your generosity and support. You can send donations to the following address: 84 W. Wheeling Street, Washington, PA 15301. If you require additional donation information, please call us at: (724) 222-8530 or email us at contact@citymission.org.

Wraparound Services

Housing Coordinator, Doug Bush with resident
March 17, 2023

Homelessness is a growing problem in Southwestern Pennsylvania, with more and more individuals and families struggling to secure stable housing. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, over 15,000 individuals in the state experience homelessness on any given night, and this number continues to rise. To address this issue, it is essential to implement wraparound programs that provide homeless individuals with the resources and support they need to restore their lives and achieve independent living. Housing First Initiatives to end homelessness have largely proven to be ineffective, because they de-emphasize the need for supportive services to address the root cause of homelessness in the lives of individuals. In his article, “Housing First is a Failure,” Judge Glock, a Senior Fellow at the Cicero Institute explains, “[Housing First] is expensive, ineffective, and, often, counterproductive. While some individuals may benefit from Permanent Support Housing, as a sole strategy for ‘ending homelessness,’ it has and will continue to frustrate the cities that pursue it.” He adds that states and cities that have adopted the Housing First approach have seen the homeless crisis actually rise in their communities. “The state of Arizona has built over 7,000 permanent homes for the homeless since 2010,” he writes, “enough to house every unsheltered person when they began, but the number of Arizonians living on the streets has increased by 50% in recent years.” If we are going to combat the homelessness problem, we must embrace and invest in each individual, helping them find their way and achieve their potential. Wraparound services help people build confidence, construct their identities, and discover ways to be happy and productive members of society. What are Wraparound Programs? Wraparound programs are a comprehensive and integrated approach to addressing the complex problems of those in need. These programs provide a wide range of services: case management, mental health services, job training and placement, healthcare, educational opportunities, and much more. The goal of these programs is to provide a holistic, individualized, and coordinated response to homelessness, helping individuals overcome the unique challenges they face in their quest for independence. Housing assistance is just one step in the process, one small part of a larger web of support. “One of the unique aspects of City Mission is the quantity and scope of services we offer,” said City Mission Chief Development Officer, Dr. Sally Mounts. “Homelessness is a very complicated problem. Generally, several factors create a perfect storm that cause someone to be homeless. It’s not a single circumstance. So the more services we offer, the better chance we can eliminate more barriers to homelessness.” “Our goal,” added Director of Programs, Leah Dietrich, “is to create a safety net or supportive network around each resident, so they are receiving services during their stay and as they transition into independent living. These supportive services help them to address mental health, drug and alcohol, medical and other basic needs. We are blessed to have such wonderful partners in the community.” At City Mission, we pour out the love of Christ onto each and every person who comes to us for help. We approach them with love. We guide them with love. We believe in their future. Why are Wraparound Programs Needed? Homeless individuals in Southwestern Pennsylvania face a barrage of challenges, including poverty, domestic violence, lack of affordable housing, and limited access to resources and support. Supportive services managed with a coordinated and individualized approach are essential to overcoming these challenges. Wraparound programs offer the support and resources necessary to overcome these barriers and achieve independent living. “Wraparound services increase an individual’s chances of success by creating touch points and supporting a resident who is facing challenges,” explained Dietrich. “Each service provider is working with the individual to remove barriers. They might help the person to manage their medications, address concerns with a landlord, navigate a custody situation or find a new psychiatrist. Each of these challenges might be overwhelming, but with supports they are manageable.” The Benefits of Wraparound Programs Wraparound services are crucial to combatting homelessness, because they offer each person the support they need to overcome their own unique barriers to independence. “If a resident has a goal of independent living, we provide support as they complete housing applications, develop a budget and save towards that goal,” said Dietrich. “If a resident is facing a barrier in their health, we can help them to schedule appointments and get follow-up care and help them to navigate the healthcare system. Our medical team also provides a supportive service as they can explain health information, review medications, and help get answers from providers when needed. Providing this 1-to-1 care makes a big difference in the success of the residents that we serve.” Homelessness is a growing problem in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and it is essential to address this issue with a comprehensive and integrated approach. By implementing wraparound services, we can make a positive impact in the lives of those in need and help to make a brighter future for us all.

Healthcare Needs for Homeless Men and Women

A homeless encampment
November 1, 2022

Helping the homeless can take different forms — food, shelter, and donations in kind, for example. However, another aspect of homeless aid comes from free and accessible healthcare. Homeless people are at risk of physical, mental, and social burdens that impact their morbidity and mortality compared to the rest of the general population. A Nature article on healthcare for the homeless attributes factors such as extreme poverty and harsh living environments as causes of poor health for the homeless, not to mention the prevalence of alcohol and drug dependence within the demographic. In fact, according to the World Bank, the average life expectancy for people experiencing homelessness in the US is 50 — approximately 28 years or less than the overall life expectancy. At our Medical Clinic, some of the most common health issues experienced by our residents range from mental health to diabetes, hypertension, and COPD. In a previous City Mission post about common ailments, we discussed how homeless people who live outdoors are more exposed to elements, making them vulnerable to wounds and skin infections. On top of that, homeless people are prone to malnutrition due to a lack of steady access to food — healthy food in particular — as well as mental health problems due to costly psychiatric help that is often inaccessible to them. Another critical point in the struggle for appropriate healthcare is that most people experiencing homelessness choose to ignore their health issues for a long time. They only seek help once in severe pain or showing symptoms of advanced medical conditions. Our Medical Clinic Manager, Rich Moore, observes that many of the homeless "have a fear of getting a diagnosis because it would be just one more problem" for them, from how to afford medicine to how to store them. Today, we want to highlight some of the ways we are making healthcare more accessible to the homeless: Ways to support them At City Mission, our Medical Care services include new medical facilities that offer free preventive, primary, and urgent healthcare to those who may need it. This includes drug-free pain management as well as chiropractic services. When residents first arrive at City Mission, our first order of business is helping them get Medical Insurance before setting them up with a Primary Care Physician through our partners at Centerville Clinics. Residents also receive free cell phones through Lifeline to communicate with medical providers and referrals to providers and services. On top of healthcare necessities, we also provide them with the tools to help themselves, such as access to nutritious meals, hygiene items, and clean, comfortable beds. However, we can still do a lot to make necessary healthcare accessible to those who need it. Here are a few: Connect them with telehealth professionals While on-site healthcare and free clinics contribute significantly to providing medical care for the homeless, an alternative that can widen the program's reach and impact is helping them connect remotely to healthcare professionals. During the pandemic, remote nurse practitioners here in Pennsylvania and across the US were well-equipped to prescribe primary care services like erectile dysfunction, birth control, UTI, and similar treatment areas – which are essential for the quality of life among homeless patients. Today, telehealth services remain effective for mental health services, connecting patients in need to qualified and trained professionals who are available on more flexible schedules than their in-person counterparts. Services from telehealth nurse practitioners are accessible and essential, given the rapidly aging population in PA. In some cases, telehealth services can be helpful in place of physical hospitals and clinics as the homeless may need immediate care or advice. As they are more vulnerable to certain diseases, having remote, 24/7 access to qualified healthcare providers can help them get medical advice and care when needed. Provide access to self-care interventions Aside from telehealth access, providing accessible healthcare to the homeless can include self-care interventions. Research from the World Health Organization defines self-care as the ability to maintain health with or without a health worker. This ranges from eating a healthier diet to varying ways of managing stress. Self-care interventions include evidence-based devices, diagnostics, and digital technologies provided outside formal health services and used with or without a health worker. For example, self-administered injectable contraception or self-tests for HIV and pregnancy can address common medical concerns for homeless people. As you can see, there are many ways to help make appropriate and free medical care accessible to the homeless. These are made possible thanks to advancements in digital technologies. With the collective effort of volunteers and communities, we can continue to find new ways to bring quality healthcare closer to homeless men and women.

Samaritan Care Offers Resources for Residents and Community

Dress for Success -- Heather Howe
October 7, 2022

Dress for Success On the first Tuesday of every month from 11am-3pm, Dress Success Pittsburgh comes to City Mission to help “empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.” If the weather is nice, they setup outside of our Porter Pillow and Peggy Beaver-Pillow Chapel. Any woman can select one full outfit (including 3 accessories and a pair of shoes) each month. They have outfits for church, work, job interviews, or hanging out around the house. “We love coming to City Mission,” said Heather Howe, the Mobile Services Coordinator (South) for Dress for Success Pittsburgh. “It’s a good spot. On average, we help about 20 women each time we come.” And the residents of City Mission look forward to Heather’s visit every month. “We love Dress for Success Day,” explained Sheila Namy, City Mission’s Manager of Women & Children Services. “The ladies get excited. Getting new clothes that are of very high quality makes them feel good about themselves. They’ll run into my office and show me their new outfits – they’re so excited.” “It makes the women feel special,” added City Mission Manager of Samaritan Care Services, Anne Wightman, “that we think enough of them to help supply them with clothes, shoes, and accessories. The clothes are being brought to them, and they can pick the items that best suit their personality.” Dress for Success operates exclusively through donations. You can schedule an appointment to donate clothing items. You can also help by attending one of their clothing sale fundraiser, which they host three times per year to raise funds to purchase specialty items like scrubs and steel-toed boots. Check out their website for details HERE. Free Cell Phones from Lifeline Brian Fuller from Lifeline comes to the Mission about once per week to provide qualifying City Mission residents and community members with free cell phones. Lifeline is a federal program that offers free phones with free service to qualifying individuals. “I love being able to help people that really need a way to communicate with their employer, their doctor, or the family,” Fuller said. “A lot of the people we work with either don’t have a phone at all or have service plans that they can’t really afford.” When new residents come to the Mission who don’t have cell phones, Anne Wightman, our Manager of Samaritan Care Services, calls Fuller and schedules a time for him to come for a visit. “We’ve been doing it for at least 6 months now,” Fuller added. “I’ve probably given out over 100 cell phones to City Mission residents and people in the community.” Our residents are very grateful for the opportunity to get free phones with free service plans. “It’s huge for them,” Wightman explained. “When they first come to us, many of them don’t have a phone at all. The Lifeline program helps them contact their family or call about employment.” Click HERE to learn more about the Lifeline Program.

Meet Our New Volunteer Manager

Jason Johnson
April 22, 2022

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

A Network of Support

Dress for Success Pittsburgh and Blueprints
April 6, 2022

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

Finding Ways to Help

cold weather
January 13, 2022

Finding Ways to Help Although rising Covid numbers in our area along with some positive cases among our staff and resident population have caused us to temporarily close our Warming Center and Cold Weather Shelter, we are still finding ways to help those in need during these, cold, winter months. "No one is going to get turned away," said City Mission President/CEO, Dean Gartland. “We’re working diligently to keep people safe and warm.” For those in need of emergency shelter in the cold weather, we work to find alternative solutions. We refer them to county agencies and other shelters, make phone calls on their behalf, purchase bus tickets, and offer transportation for those we cannot keep in our shelters overnight. We also contact other local agencies who may be able to help, and when necessary, we secure hotel rooms for those in need until a long-term solution can be found. “But if it’s the end of the day, or the weekend, and they can’t connect with the county resources, we are the people who bridge that gap,” said Gartland. In addition to these resources, we also offer hot meals, warm clothes, blankets, toiletries, canned food, and possibly even medical care to those who come to us for help. The safety of everyone in the community is our top priority, and we are working hard to help those in need while also doing our very best to keep staff, residents, volunteers, and the community healthy and safe. “Unfortunately, the cold weather came at the same time Covid is spiking,” said Gartland. “But we’re still going to make sure that everyone’s needs are met.” If you or anyone you know need help to stay out of the cold this winter, please continue to reach out to us at 724-222-8530. We are here to help during this difficult time.

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

"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.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.    —  Proverbs 1:7