A Quiet Space for Saige
City Mission Opens Library
The City Mission Library in Memory of Saige Knapp opened on December 2. It has been a dream two years in the making for Shelby Lonce, City Mission’s Donor Relations Manager, who is working to honor the memory of her brother, Saige, who passed away in 2017.
“When you lose a loved one,” she explained, “your whole life comes to a screeching halt. The rest of the world keeps moving, but you’re stuck.” Shelby and her family have been looking for ways to heal after their tragic loss.
“The idea of donating books kept gnawing at me,” Shelby said. “It came to me in dreams.”
When her brother died, Shelby and her family cleaned out his home. They packed away four boxes full of stuff. Three of those boxes were books. “Books are what helped him in his life,” she said. “he managed to keep all of those books even through time in jail and periods of homelessness. They were helpful to him. I wanted to get books in the hands of our residents too.”
She started a book drive and got 80 books by the end of the first day and 200 brand new books at the end of the initial drive. When she donated the books to City Mission, Dean Gartland, the Mission’s President/CEO told her it had always been his dream to start a library for the residents. “And that became my mission,” Shelby recalls.
Shelby developed a very specific vision for the library. It was very important that the books be brand new or in excellent condition. She did not wish to fill the library with books that look like somebody’s throwaways.
“I don’t want our residents to think that they are anybody’s throwaways,” she explained. “I want them to feel and know that they are worthy. This is just a moment in their life on the way to better things.”
Roughly a thousand books were collected for the library. Shelby made a list of all the books Saige had read throughout the last five years of his life, and she was able to get almost every single one of them for the City Mission Library.
One of the classrooms in the Mission’s Career Training and Education Center was converted into a library space, and beautiful, new shelves were built and installed along the walls. Shelby procured an online cataloguing system and started coming in on the weekends to label, categorize, and sort each and every book. Quickly, she realized that this was a much bigger task than she was able to accomplish on her own.
That was when Brianna Kadlecik, City Mission’s Manager of Career Services, jumped onboard the project.
“It was just this amazingly perfect thing,” said Brianna. “I love books, and I get to sit in a room full of books and talk to residents about books. This is my dream.”
Brianna took over the day-to-day management of the library, and she was immediately impressed with the quality and variety of the books. “When I do intake with new residents, I can think of books in our library that directly meet their needs and can help them with the exact things that they want to learn.”
When Brianna told Matt, a City Mission resident and avid reader, about the project, he jumped at the chance to help.
“Personally, I consider it a privilege to be able to work on this project,” he said. “I’m grateful that in this season of my life, God was able to use me to be a piece of the puzzle to help Shelby and her family. I’m glad I was part of that.”
When he started working on the library, the books were all in piles on the floor. He worked to categorize, stamp, label, and organize every single book in the library. He volunteered his time on evenings and weekends, working for about six weeks to get the library ready to open.
“Books have absolutely been transformational for me in my life. I’m a big believer in the power of books. Absolutely,” he explained. “Shelby saw fit to keep everything neat and organized and to make sure all the books were in good condition. That speaks volumes to me.”
Matt is also excited about what the library space could eventually mean for himself and his fellow residents. “The library will provide a place for you to enter into the world of the book and allow the book to enter into your world. To enter that place of imagination. It could also be a place to do homework and study. Right now, there just isn’t that place. It’s tough. You have to scramble to get time and a place to study and focus.”
“My hope,” added Shelby, “is that eventually the library can be a quiet space for residents to go. There aren’t too many of those places around campus right now.”
Currently, during the COVID pandemic, the library is open primarily online, and only one resident at a time is permitted in the library space. Residents can view the card catalog online and check out up to two books at a time, and Brianna will have the books delivered directly to them. Eventually, once COVID restrictions are lifted, the library will be open for browsing.
For one resident in particular,the library has already been a revelation. Lu is a refugee from Taiwan who is still learning to read and speak English. His face lit up when he walked into the library for the first time. He went straight for the kids’ section and starting reading and re-reading Dr.Seuss books out loud, practicing words he doesn’t normally see or say.
“The delight on his face was just so genuine,” said Brianna, who was in the library at the time. “It was just a really beautiful moment. We’re giving him a resource he wouldn’t otherwise have.”
The library is already proving to be a valuable resource for City Mission residents. And for Shelby and her family, it has already been a healing experience.
Saige’s daughter, his aunts and uncles, and his cousins from all across the country needed some avenue to direct all the love they still have for Saige, and this library has been a unifier for them all.
“It has been really amazing to connect with people who have donated books to the library and to share Saige’s story with City Mission donors,” she explained. “Saige is the reason I’m connected to the Mission. He is in the fabric of the Mission.”
“Saige was so smart and kind and adventurous,” Shelby added. “He would read everything. He had a really good heart. He was so much more than his addiction. I just wish he could have known that.”
“Saige struggled with self-worth. He struggled to separate his identity from his addiction,” Shelby said. But when he came to City Mission, everyone treated him like family. “I’m really thankful for what the Mission has been for my family,” she added. “I’m thankful that City Mission is here for our residents, because all of our residents are somebody’s brother or dad or sister.”
opportunities to serve your community.
A Shared Mission
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.
City Mission Chapel Gets a New Name
“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.
A Night Out At the Movies
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!
A Slice of Compassion
Recently, Harry’s Pizza in McMurray, made a monetary donation to City Mission, and they also donated pizzas for our residents to enjoy for dinner. The donation came one month to the day after Dave Auld, one of the co-owners of Harry’s Pizza, passed away suddenly, and it was made in his honor as a symbol that the restaurant intends to carry on his passion and commitment for supporting those in need in the community. “Harry’s Pizza has changed so many lives in the past 10+ years that they have partnered with the Mission, by not only providing pizza, a place for donation drop-offs, and communicating our needs to their generous customers, but they have also spread the word about who we are at the City Mission,” said Shelley Kubincanek, City Mission’s Manager of Church and Community Engagement, who was a close personal friend to Dave and the Auld family. “We are so grateful for their compassion for our residents.” More than ten years ago, Stacey French-Finnegan, who has worked for Harry’s Pizza for 18 years, organized their first donation drive for the Mission. And ever since then, Harry’s Pizza has been actively supporting the ministry of City Mission. About 5 or 6 times a year, they would call us up and let us know that they want to donate pizzas for our residents. And then at the beginning of COVID, the restaurant decided to make themselves available as a permanent donation drop-off site for the Mission, where people in the community, including their customers, could drop-off clothes, shoes, blankets, canned food items, hygiene products, blankets, and more. “No matter when we are in need of meals, Harry’s Pizza always delivers us delicious pizza,” added Kubincanek. “Their customers will always answer the call as well, with donations for our residents, and we are so blessed by each and every one of them. This business is so much more than a business, it is family to City Mission and we cannot say thank you enough to all of them for continuing this relationship and their generosity to help make a difference in our community.” Now that Dave Auld’s nephew, Dan Auld, has taken over operations at Harry’s Pizza, he along with Robin Auld (Dave’s sister-in-law and majority owner), Nate Auld (Dave’s nephew), and the rest of the family, are carrying on Dave’s passion for food and for people. “Everyone wanted the pizza shop to continue in Dave’s memory and to continue his legacy,” Kubincanek explained. “Dan is there every day to make the pizzas and make sure that everything is going just as it did when Dave was still with us. Dan’s commitment to make Harry’s Pizza now his passion is so admirable. Seeing Dan’s hard work and dedication is heartwarming, because it is just what Dave would have wanted, if he couldn’t be here himself.” Your business can also partner with City Mission to provide hope for the homeless and hurting in our community. Contact Corporate Relations Manager, Eric Smith, at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your business involved. You can contact Harry’s Pizza at (724) 969-0444 or email@example.com
Honors & Memorials
This post chronicles the names of donors and their dedications to both honor and memorialize individuals as a celebration of their respect, love and admiration. Each of the buttons below links to sheet which lists our donors who have made contributions in-honor-of or in-memoriam-of. City Mission assembles these names and documents them here - with a quarterly update - so that we may show our appreciation to all the parties.
Brentwood Bank Pledges $25,000 to Finish Strong Campaign
Brentwood Bank, a community bank headquartered in Bethel Park, PA, has proudly announced its pledge to donate $25,000 over the course of the next three years to City Mission’s Finish Strong Campaign. City Mission has been committed to shelter, heal, and restore the homeless to independent living through comprehensive programs that address short-term and long-term needs for over 80 years. “As a community-focused business, we are always looking for ways to help those who are struggling in our communities,” said Carrie Havas, Senior Vice President and Chief Risk and Compliance Officer of Brentwood Bank. “We hope our donation will help City Mission to continue its mission and positively transform the lives of our neighbors in need.” City Mission will persist in supporting the homeless and credits initiatives like the Finish Strong Campaign with improving program outcomes, meeting the growing needs in the area, and providing a safe haven for those who are struggling. As a part of the City Mission’s Career Training and Education Center, a classroom will be named in Brentwood Bank’s honor. The center provides vocational services to all City Mission residents as well as an on-site computer lab, classrooms, and study areas. “We are so grateful for the partnership of Brentwood Bank and their commitment to the homeless and needy of our community and to City Mission,” said Dean Gartland, President and Chief Executive officer of City Mission. “Their contribution will go a long way in helping us achieve our goal of paying off our current mortgage and begin the process of focusing on our new Women’s shelter which is so critically needed.” Donations made to the Finish Strong Campaign support life-changing efforts including growing the Vocational Training Center, starting the early stages of development for a new 50 bed women’s shelter, and continuing to identify new and cutting-edge methods to address the increasing problem of homelessness. “City Mission’s work in prioritizing an individual’s dignity while helping them get back onto their feet is a truly honorable cause,” said Clayton Kinlan, AVP and Relationship Banker for Brentwood Bank “We hope to propel a successful Finish Strong Campaign and in turn help to meet the ever-growing needs of those plagued with homelessness.” “We thank Brentwood Bank and their generous gift, which is another example of their consistent commitment to our cause and it’s goal of giving hope to the homeless,” said Dr. Sally Mounts, the Chief Development Officer of City Mission. For more information, please visit www.brentwoodbank.com or www.citymission.org. About Brentwood Bank Brentwood Bank has proudly served the South Hills region of Pittsburgh since 1922. Since then, we've maintained our local roots while growing the bank to five locations: Beaver; Bethel Park, Brentwood, South Fayette, South Park. We offer a full range of financial products and services and are committed to providing exceptional service and value to our customers and our communities throughout the Greater Pittsburgh area. About City Mission For 80 years, City Mission 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.
We Are Family
City Mission’s Samaritan Care Center is our community outreach program, which serves low-income individuals and families in our community. In an effort to prevent those who live in poverty from falling into homelessness, we provide food, support, and resources to those in need. And with a 21% poverty rate in the city of Washington, 9% higher than the national average, there are plenty of people who just need a little help. “We’re here to serve the community,” said Anne Wightman, City Mission’s Samaritan Care and Community Center Coordinator. “We want to be here as a resource for community members who just need some help to get through their day or their week.” Samaritan Care’s food pantry, which gave away 9,492 bags of food to local families in need during 2020, is open to the public twice a week every Tuesday and Thursday from 10am-3pm. You can come in, grab a basket, and browse through the pantry, choosing your favorite items – just like you’re shopping at the grocery store. If you need prayer, someone will pray with you. If you need help with housing, they can offer guidance and applications for public housing. If you need public assistance, a SNAP Outreach Coordinator for Washington and Greene Counties will be on-site twice a month to answer questions and show you how to apply for food stamps and other benefits. If you need legal help, they have an expungement session twice a month with the Director of Family Legal Services. If you need diapers, a toy, or even clothes for your child, they can often help you there too. “We want to let people know the services in the community that are available to them,” Wightman explained. “And we have a good working relationship with other nonprofits in the area.” Wightman and her family of volunteers can help you find your way to the best local services for you. The Samaritan Care Center is ramping back up now after COVID changed the way they did things for the past year. Pre-COVID, Samaritan Care served close to 100 families per week. When the pandemic lockdown started in March of last year, Samaritan Care launched City Mission’s Pop-up Pantries, using four of our Thrift Stores, which had been shut down for retail by statewide regulations, to distribute food bags to people who had lost jobs due to the pandemic or who needed assistance for any reason. The Pop-up Pantries initiative was kickstarted by a grant from the Washington County Community Foundation and supplemented by generous monetary and food donations. Our Pop-up Pantries gave away 4,144 bags of food, each valued at around $20, during the first two months of the pandemic lockdown. Each year, Samaritan Care also hosts several events for the community. Our Bags of Love event last Thanksgiving distributed 275 bags full of ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal at home. Santa’s Workshop allowed community members to select toys and other Christmas gifts for their children or grandchildren, and 50 families received backpacks full of back-to-school items at our Back to School event in 2020. Right now, the Samaritan Care Center is ramping up once again and hoping to serve the community like they have in the past. “It’s important to us that we’re able to help community members in their moment of need,” said Wightman. “And we want people to look forward to coming here. Nobody needs to feel embarrassed to ask for help. It’s really a family atmosphere. We all love each other.” “We truly appreciate that God entrusts us to be His hands and feet in this community. To me, this isn’t work. What I do here every day is exactly what I want to be doing.” Samaritan Care needs your help to keep our shelves stocked. Please help us to support those in need in our community. Visit www.citymission.org or contact Anne Wightman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-222-8530 x266.
Honors & Memorials
This post chronicles the names of donors and their dedications to both honor and memorialize individuals as a celebration of their respect, love and admiration. Each of the buttons below links to sheet which lists our donors who have made contributions in-honor-of or in-memoriam-of. City Mission assembles these names and document them here so that we may show our appreciation to all the parties.
For the Kids
On Thursday, May 27, volunteer, Lisa Anne Harmon, spent several hours at City Mission helping Leah Dietrich, our Director of Residential Programs, set up a new Children’s Corner in the City Mission dining room. The Children’s Corner offers a fun, comfortable, and safe environment for the children of City Mission residents to play and socialize while their parent(s) eat meals or attend meetings. City Mission’s Women with Children Shelter already has an outdoor playground and a staffed Childcare Center where children can play while their moms look for work, attend classes, and work on their recovery. The Childcare Center, though, is only open and staffed at certain hours during the week. The new Children’s Corner in the dining room will be accessible any time for children to play in social groups or with their parents. It will also be available, not only to children who are Mission residents, but also to any of our residents’ children who come for visitations. “This is a dream come true,” said Dietrich. “The Mission has been able to meet the challenge of providing shelter for Women with Children, but we were looking for ways Mission parents could continue to bond with their children. This area does that! Not only for our Women with Children living here, but also our men, who are dads, now have a space for visitations. Not just a space but a fun space kills will want to go!” Lisa Anne Harmon is an active supporter of City Mission. She is passionate about the work being done here, and she is in regular contact with the staff to find new ways she can help. She especially has a heart for the children in our shelter. “I want to give these children more positive views on life, so they can break the cycle of poverty and move beyond it to a better life,” she said. How can you help the Mission? Find your own unique way to support our work in the community. Visit www.citymission.org or contact Director of Volunteers, Sheila Namy, at email@example.com or 724-705-7137.
“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 www.citymission.org to learn more about City Mission or www.biblechapel.org to learn more about The Bible Chapel.
Restoring Cars, Restoring Lives
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 www.driveon412.com 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 citymission.org or 724-222-8530 to find ways you can help.
Heroes Fighting Hunger
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 www.citymission.org for more information.
Honors and Memorials
This post chronicles the names of donors and their dedications to both honor and memorialize individuals as a celebration of their respect, love and admiration. Each of the buttons below links to sheet which lists our donors who have made contributions in-honor-of or in-memoriam-of. City Mission assembles these names and document them here so that we may show our appreciation to all the parties.
City Mission Collaborates with Centerville Clinics
“This collaboration is a dream come true,” Leah Dietrich, City Mission’s Director of Residential Programs, said of their new collaboration with Centerville Clinics. “Many of our residents come to us with complex medical issues and need help to work through them and get to the root of the issue, which requires follow-up and active care.
Boxes of Love - Thanksgiving
A 'Box of Love' is filled with all the contents of a Thanksgiving meal and will be used to feed over 250 families in the community. With your help they will be able to enjoy their Thanksgiving meal at home!
Your Donations to City Mission Thrift Stores
City Mission Thrift Stores are a critical mission asset, taking donations and helping our community by offering great deals on clothing and other items. But, first and foremost, proceeds from our stores keep City Mission doors open to transform lives from homelessness to independent living! Our Thrift stores offer quality items at bargain prices and by accepting your donations it helps remove clutter from our homes. “Thrift with a Purpose” is real at our thrift stores! Here are examples of how you help City Mission residents - while enjoying exceptional deals whether shopping or providing item donations.
WCCF Gives Day Thursday, September 12
Between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday, September 12, all gifts made to participating charities via www.wccfgives.org and all designated WCCF Gives check contributions received by 8 p.m. on that day will be increased by part of a $100,000 bonus pool. The minimum contribution is only $25, but donors are welcome to give as much and to as many participating charities as they would like. You can share in the excitement of this special event by supporting City Mission through WCCF Gives.
Healing Through Chiropractic at City Mission
Many City Mission residents suffer from chronic pain and have turned to opioids and other pain-relieving drugs in the past. For many, this led them down the path of addiction and eventual homelessness. “Chiropractic has been proven to be one of the safest alternatives to decrease pain naturally, without drugs or surgery” he explained. Dr. Carr, who was last year’s recipient of City Mission’s Volunteer of the Year Award, saw the potential for chiropractic services to not only relieve the pain of City Mission residents but potentially change their lives.
New Murals for Veterans Shelter
Two beautiful, new murals were installed yesterday at the Crabtree-Kovacicek Veterans House. Five staff members from the State Correctional Institute (SCI) of Fayette came to City Mission to install the canvasses, which had been previously painted by inmates.
Your Kids Can Be Mish Kid "Fun"raisers this Summer!
Your kids can choose one of our fundraising ideas...Lemonade Stand, Bake Sale, Car Wash or Yard Sale. Mom, Dad, Grandma or Grandpap can pick up a Mish Kid "Fun" raising Kit at City Mission. Call at (724)-705-7122. Please provide your email address, so we can send you a digital copy of your event flyers.
Sherry lives in the Washington community, within walking distance of City Mission, and though she has never been a resident, she comes almost daily to eat meals, attend chapel services, visit with friends, or pray with residents and staff at the Samaritan Care Center, City Mission’s community outreach.
The Crabtree-Kovacicek Veterans House honors Lance Corporal Ryan Kovacicek - A Hero Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice
LCpl Kovacicek was deployed to Iraq in March 2005 with the 3rd Battalion 25th Marines Kilo Company. On Sunday, July 10th 2005 in Hit Iraq, LCpl Ryan Joseph Kovacicek was killed in combat. He was 22 years old when he made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. He will always remain young in our hearts.
The Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House honors Dr. Michael Crabtree, Generous Donor and Friend
Last year, Dr. Crabtree’s generous donation helped make the Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House become a reality, and because of that, City Mission is now able to help homeless veterans in a way we never were before. “I’m happy to be able to give to the Mission because I know that the money is being used to do important and meaningful work. Dr. Crabtree has been a professor of psychology at Washington and Jefferson College for 44 years and a practicing psychologist in Washington County for over three decades. He and his wife, Mary Paige Pillow, have been active financial supporters of the Mission for over 25 years, and he has been a board member for the last three.
Lone Pine Ladies Golf Association Helps Local Veterans
On Saturday, January 26, the Lone Pine Ladies Golf Association hosted its fifth annual chili cook-off. All proceeds from the event were donated to City Mission in support of the Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House. In addition to funds raised at the cook-off, the members of the Ladies Golf Association also collected boxes and boxes of personal items for the veterans, including towels, socks, toothpaste, deodorant, pillowcases, and 22 sets of bed sheets for the 22-bed facility.
County Commissioner Diana Irey-Vaughan is Committed to Helping Women with Children at City Mission
On October 25, 2018 friends and supporters of City Mission gathered to celebrate the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting ceremony at the newly renovated Women with Children's Shelter. We are excited and grateful for the newly renovated facility and the opportunity that is available for Women with Children in need to receive programs and services that will change their lives! County Commissioner Diana Irey-Vaughan was the guest speaker at our event. Please read her moving and inspiring words as she calls us all to action to help women and children in our community.
Cornerstone Care Mobile Unit Visits City Mission
The Cornerstone Care Mobile Unit is parked at City Mission several days this week providing Dental Services to our residents. The mission of Cornerstone Care is to improve the health of its patients and of the residents of the community with special concern for the medically under-served and low-income populations.
City Mission Honors Lieutenant Gubernatorial Candidate Diana Irey Vaughan for Fundraising Achievements
On April 23rd at 12:30pm, City Mission of Washington, PA honored Lieutenant Gubernatorial Candidate and County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan with a plaque for her fundraising efforts for their new 22-bed shelter for homeless veterans, the Crabtree-Kovacicek Veterans House, to open July 3, 2018. City Mission President/CEO Dean Gartland presented Vaughan with an engraved crystal memento inscribed “Disney Goofy Challenge Run for City Mission.”
Time to Believe
In 1993 a friend invited Tom Kwiatkowski to go to Billy Graham’s last crusade in Pittsburgh. When Reverend Graham gave the invitation to come to the altar, Tom got out of his seat and went forward. That night he prayed the sinner’s prayer with thousands of other people. On the ride home from the crusade his friend asked how he felt, and his response was that he was tired. Two days later Tom picked up the Bible to read and opened to the gospel of John and the story of Doubting Thomas. His eyes fell on the words of Jesus, “Don’t go on unbelieving but believe.” When Tom read thos