On Saturday, May 21 from 9am -7pm, our City Mission Thrift Store in Rostraver will be hosting an event to celebrate their ninth anniversary! On that day, everything in the store will be 50% off (except mattresses and Sarris candies), there will be free cake, water and coffee, giveaway prizes, and a Chinese Auction. “You name it, you can find it at our store,” said Thrift Store Manager, Georeen Busch. “You never know what you’re going to find. And our staff is sweet, kind, and helpful. So come on out and see us. You might find a hidden treasure.” Georeen has been with City Mission since 2012 and has been the Manager at the Rostraver store since it first opened its doors in 2013. “I’ve enjoyed what I’ve been doing all these years,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of good times and met a lot of wonderful people. It’s a very rewarding and humbling job.” In March of 2016, the Greater Rostraver Chamber of Commerce named the Rostraver store business of the month for their impact in the community. 100% of the store’s proceeds go to help the homeless at City Mission. And the store also helps those in need in the community get clothing, shoes, electronics, household items, glassware, and other essentials at discounted prices. Our Rostraver store is located at 1729 Rostraver Road in Belle Vernon, PA and is part of the Rostraver Shopping Center in Rostraver Township. Their store hours are Monday-Saturday 9am-7pm. Visit www.citymission.org/stores to learn more about how you can shop and support City Mission through our seven City Mission Thrift Stores.
On Friday, April 1 from 10am-2pm at the City Mission Chapel, Senator Camera Bartolotta along with City Mission, Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid, and the Washington County Bar Association all came together to host a free legal clinic for City Mission residents and eligible community members. The purpose of the “Clean Slate Day” event was to help City Mission residents and eligible members of the community to obtain expungements or pardons for criminal records. “We need to put people on a path to get back to the workplace, back to their family, and back to life,” said Senator Bartolotta. “We need to remove barriers so people in our community can live happy and meaningful lives.” An expungement is a legal court order that removes a criminal record from public view when appropriate, which helps to give a second chance to those who have turned their lives around. Courts can also consider “limited access” requests to shield non-violent misdemeanor convictions from public view, so long as the person making the request has received no additional convictions for the past 10 years. At Friday’s Clean Slate Day event, there were volunteer attorneys on hand to work one-on-one with individuals to help them navigate the expungement process. “A criminal record is a very real barrier to employment for our residents,” said City Mission Manager of Career Services, Brianna Kadlecik. And sustainable employment is a vital piece of the puzzle for them to get back to independent living. But a clean slate does not just help with employment. Kadlecik has seen criminal records create barriers for our residents to obtain housing, financial aid for education, and even a driver’s license – all things that could help to clear a path for them to a better life. “It’s a beautiful thing,” Kadlecik said of the Clean Slate Day event. “We have 11 City Mission residents in attendance today. Residents who have attended in the past have been able to get answers to things they didn’t think they would ever be able to get answers to.” For Brian Gorman, the Executive Director of Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid, Clean Slate Day is about giving people a second chance. “Everybody who comes here is looking to better themselves in some way,” he explained. “They’re looking for a job or a higher-income job. They could also be trying to go to school or to obtain housing, and their criminal record is preventing them from achieving those goals. So it not only gives people hope and redemption, but it also gives them tangible things that can help them create a better life.” If those in attendance at the Clean Slate Day event were not eligible for expungements, there were also volunteer pardon coaches from the Washington County Pardon Project on hand to help walk them through the process for applying for a pardon with the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons at no cost. The process can take from one to three years to complete, but nonviolent misdemeanor and felony convictions can be pardoned if an applicant demonstrates a change in his or her life since the arrest along with an important need for the pardon, such as increasing employment opportunities. Governor Tom Wolf has pardoned nearly 2,000 applicants during his tenure as Governor of Pennsylvania. Kyle Duff is the Project Coordinator for the Washington County Pardon Project. He works to recruit applicants and team them up with volunteer coaches to guide them through the process. “The Pardon Project is a connection that helps people with criminal records overcome the barriers associated with their background,” he explained. “Hope is the most important part of this whole thing,” he added. “Hope is contagious. It can overcome fear and desperation.” Duff explained that the Pardon Project is such a vital part of Washington County life, because the county has become such a hub for the recovery community. “People come here from all over the state and all over the country for a chance at a new life. And many of them stay and build a life here. They get jobs and build careers and start families here. They’re become part of our community.” The Pardon Project helps to give them a chance at a better life, which benefits the whole community, because the better they do in their new lives here in Washington County, the more they invest back into our local economy. They buy homes and cars. They help create a reliable workforce. They volunteer. They go to church. And ultimately, they help to strengthen the fabric of our community. “It’s great to see so many volunteers here who really want to help,” said Senator Bartolotta at the Clean Slate Day event. “They know how cumbersome it can be, and they are here to help people stay on the right path, to stay focused on their goals.” She added, “There absolutely is hope! And there are lots of people who can help. Just pick up the phone.” For more information about getting your record expunged, applying for a pardon, or attending the next Clean Slate Day, you can contact Senator Bartolotta’s senate office in Washington at 724-225-4380 or the Pardon Project at email@example.com. You can also visit www.spla.org to learn more about how Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid can help you.
Sen. Camera Bartolotta, together with The City Mission in Washington, Pa., Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid, and the Washington County Bar Association will host a free clinic, “Clean Slate Day,” for expungements or pardons of criminal records on Friday, April 1, for residents of the City Mission homeless shelter and eligible members of the public. Clean Slate Day will take place at the City Mission from 10 a.m. to 2p.m. at the City Mission on 84 West Wheeling Street in Washington. City Mission residents and eligible members of the public can meet with the volunteers beginning at 10 a.m. Pre-registration is requested, but walk-ins will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. “People who have made mistakes but have worked to turn their lives around should not be penalized for the remainder of their lives because the expungement or pardon process can seem overwhelming or confusing. This event is about ensuring those individuals who have earned their second chance have the necessary resources to overcome barriers and achieve the greatest success legally possible. That is why I support initiatives like Clean Slate Day and have advocated for a number of criminal justice reform measures to streamline reentry to the workforce while protecting public safety,” said Sen. Bartolotta. An expungement is a legal court order that removes a criminal record from public view when appropriate. Courts can also consider “limited access” requests to shield from public view non-violent misdemeanor convictions, so long as the person making the request has received no additional convictions for the past 10 years. If someone is ineligible for expungement, they can submit a pardon application to the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons at no cost. Though it takes much longer for a pardon to be granted – one to three years – nonviolent misdemeanor and felony convictions can be pardoned if an applicant demonstrates a change in his or her life since the arrest along with an important need for the pardon, such as increasing employment opportunities. In 2021, a group of public officials, along with social and legal services leaders, formed the Pardon Project of Washington County to identify high quality pardon applicants and match them with “pardon coaches” to help them complete and submit applications. To date, the project has screened more than 80 candidates and has matched more than 20 of them with coaches. To be eligible for the project, one must have a Washington County record or be a county resident, and they must have completed probation or parole at least three years ago for a crime that is not a violent felony and does not involve sexual offender registration. Volunteers will have pardon applications on hand to help eligible attendees get the process started. More information about the pardon project can be found at https://spla.org/pardon. Brian Gorman, executive director of Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid, argues that expunging, sealing or pardoning a criminal record is a win-win for the individual and the community. “Removing the barrier of a criminal record for a reformed person increases their employment and income opportunities while boosting an employer’s workforce, providing multiple benefits to the public’s economy. Well over 90% of people who contact us about their prior record are looking for a job or a better job.” The City Mission’s Legal Clinic has joined with Legal Aid and the Bar Association for Expungement Days in 2017, 2019 and 2021, and approximately 60 people attended on average. In addition to residents of the City Mission, members of the public also are welcome to attend Clean Slate Day, and those with a total household income of 187.5% of the federal poverty guidelines or below are eligible for free legal aid. The Washington County Bar Association’s volunteer attorneys will be available at the event to discuss other legal resources and referral options for those who are not income-eligible for assistance. For information and to pre-register for April 1 Clean Slate Day, contact SW PA Legal Aid at 724-225-6170 or 800-846-0871. Information on removing criminal records also is available at https://spla.org or by contacting Southwestern PA Legal Aid by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first time I ever saw Randy, he got up during one of our regular, Monday morning chapel services and read a poem out loud in front of the whole Mission – staff and residents. The first thing I noticed about him was his confidence. He maybe wasn’t confident about every aspect of his life. I’m sure he had regrets and doubts about himself. He had a difficult life. He had been to jail. He had struggled with drug addiction and had hurt people who cared about him. But when he stood up there at the City Mission podium with his worn notebook of handwritten poetry, he just knew somehow that, in that moment, he was exactly where he was supposed to be. And he started to rattle off some soul-bearing poetry. And everyone started bobbing their heads – not just to the beat of his words but also to their truthfulness – in recognition that he was putting into words something that we all already knew and felt but had no words for. And we could all see that he was a kindred spirit. He had loved and lost. He had laughed and cried. He was striving and hoping for peace in this life. And when he was done, he walked back to his seat and sat back down with the rest of us – just like that. And I said to myself, “who is that guy?” Randy came to the Mission in June of last year from a drug and alcohol treatment center, and he made an instant impression. "Randy was willing to do anything for anyone at any time," said City Mission House Coordinator, Doug Bush. "He was particularly noted for sticking up for the weaker or sicker man." He grew up in the Hill District of Pittsburgh. He was raised by a single mother, and he started using drugs when he was just 9 years old. He had a rough life with plenty of bumps along the way. But when he finally committed his life to Christ, he started writing poetry. And he discovered some new and exciting part of himself that had been buried deep inside. And for as long as he was here at the Mission, every Monday at our weekly chapel service, he would go up to the podium with his worn notebook and lay down some beautiful and powerful poems that left us all speechless. Tragically, on Thursday, December 2 of last year, Randy passed away while on a home pass to attend his mother's funeral. But we at the Mission will never forget him or his poetry. This is what Wayne Heckman, our Manager of Men’s Services had to say about Randy, “Randy was beloved by both City Mission residents and staff. He served admirably as a Resident Assistant in the Men’s Program and was a stalwart presence in the kitchen where he prepared meals for our community. Randy was a great example to the community, and he was a brother in Christ. Randy had a great sense of humor, and often had words of wisdom to share, even in casual conversation. He was also a poet whose verse both inspired and encouraged members of our campus. His influence upon his fellow residents and staff will continue to be felt long past the present.” “Since I’ve been here at the Mission, God has been so good to me,” Randy once told me. “I’m surrounded by a great staff team who wants the best for me. I know I have a lot of work that must still be done, but I’m confident now that God has called me his son.” We miss you, Randy! Here is one of his electrifying poems… Can’t Pay You Back So this was the price you had to pay for me To be with me. To save and redeem me. You laid down here for me. Hung here for me. Died for me? You laid down here for me as they laughed at you? You laid down here for me as they nailed you, impaled you? You laid here as nails cut you? Pierced you? You laid down here for me? You hung here for me as your breath wouldn’t come and the blood wouldn’t stop. And nails and nails. You still are God, and could have come down and made the pain stop and the laughing stop. But you hung here for me. Died here for me, and I don’t have to pay you back? You’re doing all this for me? This for me as I robbed, stole, and cheated. As I lied, conned, and mistreated? You’re doing this for me after all the drugging and drinking? After all the lame excuses and not thinking? After going in and out of jail for all my wrongs. Leaving the house in the morning, staying out all night long. After all the times I left my wife alone. After all the opportunities and jobs I have blown. After getting two women pregnant at the same time? Gave up drinking water for a bottle of wine? After putting a gun in a man’s face? And got away without a trace? As I ripped and ran and didn’t care. Wouldn’t stop for you – like you weren’t even there. And you still doing this for me? Well…Father, the only thing I can say is, thank you for all you have done. And I’m humbled and grateful to be your son. Amen.
“The desire in my heart is to help women in addiction and to let them know that there is help, and with Christ, all things all possible,” said Nettie Ledbetter, our Manager of Single Women Services, who passed away suddenly in her home last Saturday. Miss Nettie spent nearly 20 years serving at City Mission after finding hope here as a resident in 2001. She truly was an inspiration to all of our staff and residents, and she will be desperately missed. Nettie once said that when she first came here from a treatment center, lost and confused, 21 years ago, City Mission was able to love her before she was able to love herself, and that is exactly what she spent her life giving back to every single lady who walked through the doors of City Mission – unconditional love. She believed that when a woman came to the Mission broken and battered that the staff here could love her back to life. “Just to see the faces of the ladies light up,” she said in an interview in 2018, “after knowing that there are people who care and love them regardless of where they come from or the mistakes they’ve made or the grief that they have in their lives.” Catherine Plunkett came to City Mission in 2018 and lived for a time in our Single Women’s Shelter. She now works as the Receptionist at the Mission. She is one of the countless women who Miss Nettie helped to love back to life. “There is definitely something special about Miss Nettie,” she said. “I felt it through the phone during my intake interview while I was still in rehab. Before I even laid eyes on her, I could tell that she was someone who gives hope. During my time as a resident at City Mission, Miss Nettie helped me to trust and believe that I am worth it. Later on, as an employee of the Mission, I didn’t see her every day, but when I did, she would always have a smile on her face and greet me with, “Hi sweetie!”, which always warmed my heart. She was truly one of kind.” And if you ever had the privilege to meet Nettie, then you know exactly how her smile could light up your heart and make you feel loved. What a blessing she was to our staff, residents, and community! She gave her heart so freely and effortlessly to everyone she encountered, and everyone she ever met is better for it. There is no doubt that Nettie is rejoicing right now in the presence of our Savior. She is walking with the King! And we are all hurting now at her loss, but there will come a day when we will see her again and join her in rejoicing!
Christian grew up in a beautiful home in a nice neighborhood. His parents worked hard to give him a good life. “I had a very privileged childhood,” he explained. “I always had nice clothes. Nice things. I didn’t appreciate the things my family did for me. I was blessed, and I didn’t even see it.” Then, when he was in ninth grade, his parents divorced, and his life changed. His relationship with his family became strained, and he stopped going to church. When Christian was 18, his Dad kicked him out of the house – just a few months after his experimentation with drugs began. For two years, he lived with friends, sleeping on couches and in garages. He never had to sleep outside or on the street, but he was without a home for two years. “My Dad is my rock,” Christian said. “I may not always agree with him, but I love him for who he is. I understand now that he kicked me out of the house so I could learn to become an adult. I just wasn’t ready back then.” On January 2, 2020, Christian eventually ran out of options, and he decided to come to the Mission. He was only twenty years old. When Christian first moved into the Mission, it was a difficult transition. “When I first came here, it was very scary,” he said. “There was no one here my age. They’re all older. I used to hate being here…” “But,” he continued after some thought. “Being here at such a young age has been a blessing for me. It’s a miracle, actually. City Mission changes you. It changed me a lot. I’m all around a better person. I’ve been able to build trust again and re-build relationships. And I learn more about who I am every day. It’s an everyday process. A never-ending process.” At the Mission, Christian keeps himself busy. Now almost 23 years old, he still works at the same restaurant he started working at when he was 16 – starting out as a dishwasher and working his way up to cook. He is also studying Culinary Arts at Pittsburgh Technical College. He bought a car, which allows him to drive to work and to school. And he volunteers once a week at the Mission, riding on the Mission truck and picking up donations. He is also pursuing an interest in photography and even entered a local art show this past summer. Additionally, he deepened his relationship with God and committed himself to a life of following after Christ. And recently, his Section 8 paperwork came in, so he is working toward getting his own place. “Going to school. Going to work,” he said. “Getting up at 6am every day. It’s stressful to be a 22-year-old working on myself. But I’m blessed that the Mission looks at me like I’m 22. They don’t treat me like a child, but they look at me like I’m growing, and I love that!” “If I didn’t come to the Mission, I wouldn’t have gotten a car,” he shared. “I wouldn’t have gone to school. I don’t know where I’d be. I tell my friends to come here. A lot of people need this place -- if you feel like you need a change, if you need some structure.” “This place gives you structure, positivity, and God,” he added. “A lot of people need that. Drugs are not the answer. God is the answer!” You can help Christian and others like him at City Mission turn their lives around. Please give today and help transform another life. https://www.citymission.org/ways-to-help/donate#donate-money
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.”
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 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.
Mission BBQ is a barbecue restaurant chain that honors and supports American military, police, firefighters, and first responders. They first opened their doors in Glen Burnie, MD on September 11, 2011, and since then (at least as of 2021), they had expanded to 109 locations in nine different states. The Pittsburgh location of Mission BBQ in Robinson Township has been supporting City Mission’s veterans’ program from the very first day we opened our Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House back in July of 2018. Annie Thieman, Mission BBQ’s Catering Manager, was on our campus the day of the Grand Opening, providing lunch to all of our guests who came out that day to celebrate the opening of our new Veterans House. “At Mission BBQ we strive to serve those who serve,” Thieman said in a statement. “Our partnership with City Mission’s Veterans Program is one that is incredibly near and dear to our hearts. From the day their doors opened and every day since then, we admire and appreciate everything the team at City Mission does to support and help our American Heroes” City Mission Manager of Veterans Services, Steve Adams, is extremely grateful for that partnership. “Mission BBQ has been with us from day one,” he explained, “and they’ve continued to support us ever since.” They regularly deliver large, buffet-style meals to the residents at our Veterans House, and they let us keep the leftover food. They also occasionally invite our veterans to come out to the Pittsburgh restaurant, and they feed them dinner in their private dining room. Recently, Mission BBQ found a unique way to honor our veterans. They strive to serve authentic barbecue in a patriotic dining room filled with “tributes to those who have made our country great” – according to their website. This is often in the form of military unit patches, embroidered patches that soldiers wear on their uniform to demonstrate their service and the particular unit they served under. In 2018, Adams created a unit patch for residents of our Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House to wear with pride as a symbol of their commitment to restoring their lives at City Mission. To honor City Mission and our commitment to serving veterans, Mission BBQ placed Steve Adams’ personal military patch and the Crabtree-Kovacicek Veterans House patch in a prominent place above the door frame at their main entrance. “It’s an honor to have our patches up there where everyone can see them,” Adams said. Thank you, Mission BBQ, for your continued support of our veterans! To learn how you can support the residents of our Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House, please visit https://www.citymission.org/support/veterans.
“I can’t sleep at night if I know someone is outside in the cold,” said Mary Pillow, a clinical social worker in Washington. “That was instilled in me by my parents when I was very young. They taught me to never walk by anyone in need, and my sister and I still live by that to this day.” In that spirit, Pillow and her husband, Dr. Michael Crabtree, a clinical Psychologist and Psychology professor at Washington and Jefferson College, recently made a very kind and generous donation to City Mission. In honor of their gift, the iconic City Mission Chapel will be named after Pillow’s parents. “Mary’s parents really embodied the spirit of giving throughout their entire lives,” said Dr. Crabtree, explaining why he and his wife decided to name the chapel after her parents. “They would never want to be applauded. They would want to be humbled. But they represent the spirit of giving that matches the Christ-centered work of the City Mission.” The newly-christened “Porter Pillow and Peggie Beaver-Pillow Chapel,” the “Pillow Chapel” for short, will be dedicated with a special ceremony on Thursday, April 12 at 5pm in the chapel, located at 84 West Wheeling Street. “The chapel is the cornerstone of the work of the Mission,” added Dr. Crabtree, who is also the Vice President of City Mission’s Board of Directors. “It was the only building left standing after the fire that devastated the Mission in 2015. And I think the symbolism of that building on that street is powerful, because it shows that the Mission is putting Christ at the forefront of all the good work they do in the community.” Mary Pillow was born in Tennessee, but her father, who was an engineer for Procter & Gamble, moved the family to Tunkhannock in northeastern PA for his work. Pillow was raised in Tunkhannock and still returns every year for their annual carnival, because she still feels such a connection to the place. “It was a beautiful place to grow up,” she said of her childhood home. “It was idyllic. I had the best childhood.” She has vivid memories of going to church with her parents when she was a child. “I was a little kid,” she remembered, “and I would stand next to my dad at church. He loved to sing. He was a very big, tall man. And he would always sway when he sang.” The first time Dr. Crabtree and Mary Pillow attended church together, he asked her, “Why are you swaying?” And they both laughed. The lessons our parents teach us in childhood are incredibly powerful and impact us as adults in ways that we do not even understand. The most important lesson Mary Pillow learned from her parents is to help those in need. It is that spirit that inspires her and Dr. Crabtree to support City Mission and the hungry and hurting in our community. They have supported City Mission since 1995. “City Mission really hits the mark of the work of Christ in this world,” Dr. Crabtree said, explaining why he and his wife have continued to give to the Mission. “And the whole staff really embodies that spirit.” “From top to bottom,” Mary Pillow added, “this place is the authentic, real, spiritual deal. The people who work here are the best people in the world.” They give, because they want to support the work of the Mission and to carry on the legacy of Pillow’s parents to help those in need, but they also give to encourage and inspire others to support the Mission as well. “This is a great time to get involved with City Mission,” said Dr. Crabtree. “The Mission works hard to serve the entire community, but right now there is a growing need in our area for homeless women. And the Mission is currently working to address that need.” You too can support City Mission at www.citymission.org. Your gift can transform the lives of those in our community who are homeless, hungry, and hurting.
This past week, 20 of our residents got to experience a night out on the town, watching “The Batman” and eating popcorn at a local movie theater thanks to a generous and thoughtful donation from Dr. Daniel Lattanzi and his wife, Linda Lattanzi, who graciously rented out the theater for the night. “I think we underestimate how important it is for them to get out and socialize as they work to move forward in their lives,” said Dr. Lattanzi, explaining why he and his wife chose to support our residents in this unique way. Dr. Lattanzi, who works at the UPMC McGee-Women’s Hospital teaching Obstestrics and Gynecology, is also the City Mission’s Medical Director. He and his wife Linda, who has been on the Board or Directors at the Mission for 20 years, have supported City Mission for decades. But recently, they have been finding more creative and hands-on ways to support our residents. Last summer, they hosted a picnic at the main pavilion in Washington Park. Dr. Lattanzi cooked a meal, and our residents got to experience some fun in the sun. Through that experience, Dr. Lattanzi says that he learned to appreciate how critical it is for our residents to find joy out in the world. Since that first summer picnic in the park, the Lattanzis have also sponsored a night out for our residents at a Christmas Lights Festival in Butler and now a night at the movies. “There are really good people working at the Mission who are committed to helping the homeless,” Dr. Lattanzi said, explaining his motivation to get more involved at the Mission. “I’ve been impressed by their knowledge and their passion for what they do. It’s a great organization with a great heart. Seeing them do what they do really motivated me to want to do more.” Leah Dietrich, our Director of Residential Programs, explains the impact that those types of events can have for our residents, “This event [the night at the movies] meant so much to our residents because they are working so hard to change their lives in so many ways. Recovery, counseling, and career services are all wonderful things, but they can be exhausting. An event like this is just a way to have fun and enjoy life. We were so grateful for our residents to get to enjoy this event because they deserve to have these moments since they are working so hard and making so many changes.” The residents who attended the night out at the movies and enjoyed the free soda and popcorn were touched that someone who didn’t even know them would pay for them to go to the movies. “Several of the residents said that it was fun to have a safe activity they could do that made them feel like regular people again,” explained Wayne Heckman, City Mission’s Manager of Men’s Services. “Having Dr. Dan and Linda Lattanzi involved in the mission is a tremendous blessing,” added Dietrich. “They support us in so many ways. Dr. Lattanzi has been a wonderful asset as our medical director and has helped us through the pandemic not just with medical support, but with his passion for cooking and providing prepared food and fresh produce to our kitchen and our Samaritan Care Center. Linda has made wonderful connections within the community for the organization like the Spencer family YMCA that have blessed us tremendously. The Lattanzi’s are true friends of the Mission and this latest effort was a blessing to our residents. I can’t thank them enough for all that they have done!” Our residents here at City Mission are working hard every day to build better lives for themselves and their families. They need people to come around them and encourage them with love and support. That is our mission. And we could use your help! Join us today at www.citymission.org. Thanks!