A Network of Support

Dress for Success Pittsburgh and Blueprints

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, Blueprints, and all of local partners 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.

April 6, 2022
Gary Porter - Communications Manager
Gary Porter
Communications Manager
Gary has been with the mission since 2017. He writes many of our resident stories, getting to know many of them and seeing their transformations at the mission from the start.
gporter@citymission.org

Recent Articles

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.”

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.