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News Overview

Latest News from the Mission

Our News Articles provide information on all manner of topics related to the City Mission.  Our Subject areas include:  Events; Resident Stories; Donors Stories; Newsletter Repository; and Knowledge Share.  Knowledge Share engages a host of topics regarding homelessness, addiction and poverty.  Below you will find an opportunity to be “in-the-know” by joining our email list.  Checkout the "Podcast" section of our Knowledge Share articles page.  Below you'll find the 3 most recent articles from each of our topical areas .  


Staff Spotlight

Katie Mason, Event Coordinator
February 25, 2021

Katie Mason has been City Mission’s Event Coordinator since May of 2020, and she loves working for the Mission alongside wonderful people who work hard every day to help others and make the world a better place. “I love working with an incredible team, serving incredible people, and furthering an incredible mission,” she explained. Katie was born and raised in Peters Township, and her first experience with City Mission was volunteering with her Dad at the inaugural Sweet Sunday when she was a little girl. When she was young, she loved to study history, and her dream job was to be a historian or a professor or any job where she could learn more about history every day. In high school, she moved with her family to Big Timber, MT. She went to college at Montana State University in Bozeman, and for nearly 4 years, was the Director of Artistic Planning & Development Coordinator at the Helena Symphony, the “largest regional-professional orchestra in Montana.” Recently, she moved back to the area and was hired as the Event Coordinator at the Mission, where she has had the privilege of helming the 27th annual Sweet Sunday, the same event she attended with her dad as a child. “I love the tradition of Sweet Sunday,” Katie said of our largest annual fundraiser, with all proceeds helping to provide hope for the homeless. “I remember it as a kid, and it has evolved into a truly special community event that is about much more than buying chocolates, bidding on auction items, buying raffle tickets, and watching entertainment. It is about bringing our community together to help the homeless and the underserved.” This year’s Sweet Sunday event is the first one ever to go virtual. It has been an enormous undertaking to bring all the fun, tradition, and excitement of a beloved in-person event into an exclusively online setting. But Katie has been up to the challenge, and the event has already exceeded expectations thanks to the compassion and generosity of our community. On September 4, in Cedar Falls, IA, Katie will be getting married to Benjamin Bower! “I know it sounds cliché,” she said, “but I feel like the luckiest girl in the world!” A few months ago, Katie got sick and ended up in the ER. Ben took time off of work and drove all the way from his home in Maryland to take care of her for 4 days. She and Ben have already bought a house in Canonsburg and are looking forward to their big day! Thanks, Katie, for everything you do for the Mission!

Resident Stories

Robert Breaks Free

Robert in pavilion
April 23, 2021

Robert sat in a prison cell trying to figure out how to get his life turned around. His addiction had ruined his life, destroyed his relationships with his wife and kids, and ultimately landed him in prison. He knew he needed to change everything if things were going to get any better. Robert, who grew up in the Mon Valley, was baptized in the Catholic church. He was also an altar boy and attended Catholic school. But it wasn’t a happy childhood. Sadly, Robert was molested at a young age by a family member. At age 14, perhaps as a way to cope with his trauma, he began experimenting with drugs and alcohol. “The first time I ever used any type of drugs, I was 14,” he explained. “But it didn’t progress any. And then, when I got into my 20s, when I was able to go to bars, that’s when it progressed. Drinking, you know, basically every day after work.” His drinking was an attempt to numb the pain from his childhood, but it prevented him from seeking help to treat bipolar, anxiety, and Post-traumatic Stress disorders, which all went undiagnosed for decades. In 2010, he managed to break his back, and his doctor prescribed painkillers. “I was drinking every day, but the drug problem didn’t come into effect until I broke my back,” Robert said. “The doctor kept prescribing me opioids. And then, all of a sudden, he cut me off.” After his prescriptions ran out, Robert began to self-medicate with street drugs, which eventually led to a full-blown addiction that lasted for nearly ten years. During that time, he was homeless and living on the street for about eight months. “I slept under bridges. I slept in a doghouse once,” he recalled. “I slept in a tent down by the river, for like two months, until somebody came and burned it down.” Eventually, he wound up in prison, and with nowhere else to go upon his release, he came to City Mission. “This is one of the best opportunities I’ve ever had in my life,” he said of his experience at the Mission. “I am blessed, because there is no other place that you could get what you get here.” Since arriving, Robert has restored his relationship with Christ, worked on his recovery, earned a forklift operator certification and an OSHA Agriculture certificate, coordinated the Mission’s Big Brother mentorship program, and acted as a Resident Assistant, helping to mentor newer intakes. “I’ve seen people come in here who were very successful when they left,” he said, “and I believe I can be one of those people.” Robert was well on his way to independence and a transformed life, but, in November, he tested positive for the Coronavirus. He got really sick and had to be quarantined, but every day, someone from the Mission came to check on him. That care and compassion from the staff impacted him even more than all of the opportunities the Mission had made available to him. “I never realized what Agape love is until now,” he explained. “I’ve come around positive people that are believers, and they really helped me a lot…It’s just totally unreal.” “if you have patience,” Robert added, “God will give you not what you want but what you need.” Robert has capitalized on his opportunities here at City Mission and has turned his life around. You can help our residents, just like Robert, restore their lives and renew their hope. Visit or call 724-222-8530 to find out how you can help.

Garrick Gets Another Chance

April 9, 2021

Garrick had a happy childhood, growing up in Beaver County, and going to church with his family. Life was good. But then, in high school, he made some bad decisions, fell in with the wrong crowd, and got into drugs and alcohol. His life went off course, and he even had to drop out of college. Eventually, his addiction took everything away from him. “My life went downhill really fast because of addiction,” he said. “Basically, it escalated to the point in my 20s and early 30s that I pretty much like burned every bridge with everybody I had in my life. I was in and out of rehab, sleeping on people’s couches, sleeping outside on the street if I had to.” At one point, Garrick managed to stay clean and sober for almost five years. During that time, he met someone and had two beautiful children. He had a job and was creating a good life for himself and his family. “That short time period proved to me that life can be good and worth living,” he explained. “And that there is another way to live.” And then, he relapsed, and his life, once again, spun out of control. “It got to a point where my life was so bad that I needed to try something different,” he said, “because life, the way I was living it, was pretty terrible.” After addiction tore his life and his family apart, Garrick, with nowhere else to turn, came to City Mission in 2018. He stayed for over a year. He got clean and then he moved out. But the everyday battle with addiction lead to a relapse in a very short time. “I basically fell flat on my face again,” he said. “But when I was here the first time, I was doing what I had to do for the addiction side but without God in my life.” Garrick had been very closed-minded about the spiritual aspect of his recovery. He had grown up in the church, but when addiction grabbed ahold of him, he blamed God. “I was like how could God let this happen to me,” he recalled, and he had a difficult time opening his heart back up to God. But when he came back to the Mission for the second time, he came in with a very different perspective. “I was so broken by the time I got back here again that it was like a light bulb went off in my head,” he explained. “Through my trials and tribulations, I basically learned how to open my mind up to the idea that there is a God. I thought to myself, I need to try something different, because whatever I was doing before wasn’t working. I hated myself for so long and I feel like that’s what became natural for me was hating myself. Until I came back here and was here for a couple weeks.” As seen with many addiction journeys, it took two tries for Garrick to turn his life around. But he knew that City Mission was the place where a new life was possible. “Before coming to the Mission, I was broken. Since coming here, I’m finally happy. Happy that I restored my relationship with the Lord. It’s definitely better when you have God on your side.” Now that Garrick has his life back on track, he wants to give back and help other people. He is looking to go back to school for drug and alcohol counseling or nursing. “I truly believe that I need to do something that helps people. Because I’ve had a lot of jobs that didn’t help people and I was miserable,” he said. “I think the biggest thing that I learned at the Mission is how to help others.” Garrick is a new creation. You can help others just like him to turn their lives around at City Mission. Visit to find out how.

Today I Have Hope

January 27, 2021

“I can honestly say that I’ve been depressed most of my life,” Carmella said. She was abused as a child and experienced the death of two husbands in her lifetime. Her first husband died of lung cancer when he was just 38 years old. “Death and grieving have been like a big part of my story,” she noted. Over the years, Carmella turned to drugs to ease the pain of her grief. “Drugs weren’t my problem,” she explained. “They were my solution.” But eventually, the drugs took over and derailed her life. When she was clean, she was successful. She is well-educated. She worked in various careers. She was a counselor, an administrative assistant, a corrections officer. But drugs ripped her life apart, and in 2017, she found herself homeless. “I never thought that my life would turn out the way that it has.” Eventually, she found her way to City Mission, and she has started to put the pieces of her life back together. She has a job and is going to counseling to manage her grief and depression. She is working the steps to stay clean. “The Mission has given me the opportunity to look at how full my life is instead of how little my life is,” she said. “I’m not focusing on what I don’t have. I’m looking at what I have to be grateful for.” Carmella has two daughters, 33 and 15, who are her biggest supporters. “My children understand addiction because we’ve been through it for so long. They’ve seen me at my best. They’ve seen me at my worst. And they’re proud of me now.” She is also working to complete a degree in social work so she can help people who have suffered like she has suffered. “If I can just be a better mother to my children, a better child of God and to be able to get into social work somewhere where I can help people like me, that’s what I’d like to do.” It turns out, Carmella’s life was always fuller and richer than her grief ever let her realize, and now she is finally filled with hope and a promise for the future. “I don’t see myself as a failure anymore,” she said. “I don’t see myself as a burden. I’m able to give back where I took so much. This time last year, I was hopeless. I was depressed. I was spiritually bankrupt. I was gloom. I was doom. And today I have hope.” “This is a place of restoration. This is a place of giving life to the lifeless.”

Knowledge Share


Thank You

The Bible Chapel
April 1, 2021

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27 We are incredibly grateful for all of our church partners. Together, we are the body of Christ. We are His hands and feet in a world that cries out for help, and the Spirit of the Lord moves through us as one body with one purpose. Over the years, The Bible Chapel has been a great friend and supporter of our ministry. “Our relationship with City Mission goes way back. It pre-dates my time here,” said Pastor Wayne Johnson, who has been with The Bible Chapel for eight years and has acted as their Pastor of Outreach for the past year and a half. Members of The Bible Chapel have long served alongside the Mission in many ways: volunteering on our campus, donating money or food or other items, preaching at our chapel services, teaching classes and Bible Studies, serving on our staff, leading donation drives, and so much more. 2020 was a difficult time for everyone, and in the beginning of the COVID lockdown, there were many people in our community who found themselves hurting, out of work, and uncertain about the future. The Bible Chapel was one of the first churches to reach out to us and ask how they could help. Their South Hills campus opened their doors as a collection site for food and clothing donations and even held donation drives for us. “Their generosity did not end there,” said Shelley Kubincanek, our Manager of Church and Community Relations. In the beginning of the pandemic, when our City Mission Thrift Stores shut down in compliance with statewide COVID regulations, we used many of them as sites to give away bags of food as part of our Samaritan Care food pantry, which is our community outreach program. Thanks to partners like The Bible Chapel, who generously donated to the cause, we were able to give out 4,000 bags in the first two months of the COVID lockdown. “In the beginning of the pandemic,” said Johnson, “it was my assignment to see what we could do to help the community. City Mission was one of the first places I reached out to. We appreciate City Mission and the tremendous ministry they’ve had over the years.” When The Bible Chapel’s annual Vacation Bible School rolled around in August, the needs of City Mission were still on the hearts and minds of their congregation and staff. “VBS is always a major event for us,” Johnson said. “We typically have about 800 kids come to church for that week.” With the pandemic this past summer, they were forced to do things differently to ensure social distancing. Instead of having hundreds of kids at the church, they set up small groups in neighborhoods throughout the area. And instead of focusing their VBS outreach efforts on international missions like they do every year, they focused on helping local communities. “Wayne contacted us to see if their VBS program could hold donation drives to assist with our Samaritan Care food pantries,” Shelley added. “They delivered three truckloads full of nonperishable food, which was enough to supply our pantries for an entire week. We were able to help the community during this most difficult time thanks to the generous members of The Bible Chapel.” “We just really think it’s important to give back to the community,” Johnson explained. “What God blesses us with, He wants us to share with others. That’s an important part of the Christian walk.” With church and community partners like The Bible Chapel, City Mission can put Christ’s teachings into action by helping those in need. Visit to learn more about City Mission or to learn more about The Bible Chapel.

Restoring Cars, Restoring Lives

Sam and John Kuzmishin
March 22, 2021

Sam Kuzmishin, a 16-year-old Sophomore at Winchester Thurston High School, found a unique way to give back to his community and help those in need. One day, a few months ago, he was thinking about all the ways that the COVID pandemic has negatively-impacted our world, our country, and our local communities, and he wanted to find a way to help. “People are losing their jobs,” he said, “and some aren’t able to pay rent. I just wanted to find a way to help as many people as possible get back on their feet.” Sam and his dad, John Kuzmishin, love working on cars together and fixing them up in their garage. “It’s really, really rewarding when you figure out what’s wrong and how you can fix it,” Sam explained. Sam thought maybe he and his dad could take in dilapidated cars, restore them, and offer them at a deep discount to those in need. “The more I thought about it,” he said, “I realized that reliable transportation is such an important step to independence and getting your life back on track. It helps people commute to work, get groceries, take kids to school. And if you don’t have a car you can depend on, it really limits the jobs available to you.” Sam started contacting local nonprofits to find an organization he could work with, and City Mission called him back. “We get calls intermittently from people wanting to donate cars to us,” said City Mission’s Director of Hope Enterprises, Mark Vinoverski. Some of those donated vehicles are not operational. With limited space and no one dedicated to restoring the vehicles, the Mission could only store a limited number of them at any given time. Additionally, as homeless residents transition out of City Mission and into independent living, reliable transportation is often a very important step in their progress, so the Mission was really the perfect fit for Sam’s plan.“John and Sam have a real heart for the Mission,” said Vinoverski. “They really want the cars to go to our residents and help people in need.”A couple of months ago, Sam and his dad picked up their first car from the City Mission warehouse, a 2006 Buick Rainier with 155,000 miles. They hauled the vehicle on a trailer back to their home in Pittsburgh where they have a lift in their garage and a safe space to work. The car had a short circuit on the driver’s side door and a non-functioning air suspension system, among other issues. They purchased a control panel for the door, new suspension air bags, and a new air compressor with their own money and installed them. They also replaced the windshield, fixed non-functioning windshield wipers and performed preventative maintenance.Once the father and son team had restored the vehicle, they brought it back to the staff at the Mission, who already had a resident lined up to buy it. The resident purchased the vehicle, which will help him get to and from work, at a deep discount.“We want the residents to purchase the vehicles, so it’s like a real-life situation for them,” explained Vinoverski. “They learn to save money. They feel like they have ownership. It’s not just handed to them. They earn it.” Sam and his dad already picked up their second car and have begun working on it. Sam is working hard to acquire funding from companies, sponsors, and foundations to help purchase parts and fund the project. He is making contacts, writing grants, and building a website to document the impact their work is having in the community. “We just want to help people in need help themselves…one at a time,” said Sam, “especially during COVID.” Visit to learn more about this project. Want to find your own, unique way of making a difference for those in need? Contact City Mission at or 724-222-8530 to find ways you can help.‍

Heroes Fighting Hunger

Dan Smith and Denny Kennedy in City Mission kitchen
March 18, 2021

In December, when Governor Wolf announced a second round of restrictions on indoor dining for restaurants, Dan Smith, the President and CEO at Equipment & Controls Inc. in Lawrence, PA, had an idea. “It started with a conversation at the kitchen table,” Smith explained. “I saw two big problems. You have local restaurant owners who have been in the community for years and have battled through COVID since March. They probably just ordered all this inventory for the holidays and now they’re forced to shut down. And then you also have people in the community who can’t afford to eat. And I just thought, if we could get the right people involved and put the funding in the right place, maybe we could put a dent in both of these problems.” Smith called his long-time friend, City Mission’s Chief Financial Officer, Denny Kennedy. They had worked together years ago when Kennedy was the CFO at Smith’s company. When Smith and Kennedy brought the idea to City Mission’s President/CEO Dean Gartland, his first thought was, “what a tremendous idea. This can be a win-win for everyone involved. We started working right away to make this idea a reality.” “Really, all I had was an idea,” said Smith. “All the credit goes to the folks who went out and made it happen. I couldn’t believe how fast it all came together and how passionate everyone at the Mission was to get this going.” Smith made an initial donation to City Mission, and the Heroes Fighting Hunger program was born. City Mission used the funds to purchase meals from local restaurants for the homeless residents living on their campus. So far, the program has supported 15 local restaurants and provided over 7500 total meals for City Mission residents throughout the months of January, February, and now into March. “This is just a massive win-win for restaurants struggling with lowered revenue due to COVID-19, and for our residents here at the Mission as well,” said City Mission’s Chief Development Officer, Dr. Sally Mounts, who joined the program early on and quickly jumped into action. Mounts reached out to generous donors in the community, and using Smith’s initial donation as a matching gift, was able to raise even more money for the cause. Major donors to the new program include: Brian and Karen Shanahan, Mike and Kathy Makripodis, Jon Halpern of Pineapple Payments, and others. “We’re all struggling to get to the other side of this terrible pandemic,” added Mounts. “Anything that unites us in this effort is a bonus for the whole community. And since so much of our ministry centers around food and shelter, it helped us provide a real bright spot for our residents.” City Mission typically relies on food donations to keep costs low and financial donations to provide meals for the residents who depend on them for food and shelter every day. But the generous donations received as part of this project, enabled the Mission to spend more per meal this month, which helped not only to support local restaurants but also to offer their residents more upscale meals and a greater variety of options. City Mission’s Food Services Manager, Judy Sandy, came on board to organize the project, contact the restaurants, and put together a meal schedule. “It’s exciting,” she said. “It’s good for the restaurants and for our residents.” Sandy reached out initially to eleven different restaurants who have worked with the Mission in the past, and every single one of them said yes. “And it’s special for our residents too,” she added. “The variety of the meals is incredible. It’s like they’re getting to eat out every day. These are places they can’t typically go, and these restaurants are actually coming to us. And the residents are so grateful. When they come in and see the food it’s like they’re thinking, ‘is this really for me? Do people really care this much about me?’ It makes me cry to even think about it.” Chicco Baccello, a small coffee house, bakery, and deli in Washington, was one of the first restaurants the Mission approached with this idea. Every Tuesday in the month of March, Chicco Baccello is providing lunch for the residents at City Mission by making deli sandwiches made with the highest-quality meats and cheeses along with side dishes like macaroni salad made in-house. “We’re in close proximity to City Mission,” said Lisa Aprea, one of the owners at Chicco Baccello. “We have regulars who stop in that work at the Mission. We’ve participated in their Sweet Sunday event in the past, and we participated again this year. So they know our coffee, our food.” In the beginning, the pandemic hit their business pretty hard. Aprea explained, “We knew we had to adapt. We had to be willing to change the way we did things or we weren’t going to make it. We made online orders available and offered curbside pickup. And our community has been extremely supportive.” When City Mission approached Aprea with the idea, she was excited and grateful. “What a wonderful thing to do to bless small businesses and the residents of City Mission. And it isn’t just about the added revenue we’ll get this month -- what a blessing it is for us to make 100 sandwiches for the residents at the Mission. Our staff is excited to do it.” City Mission is planning to complete this program at the end of the month as in-dining restrictions ease and funding for the project winds down. But you can always help provide meals to those in need at the Mission. Call 724-222-8530 or visit for more information.


So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.    — Romans 12:5