Childcare at City Mission’s Women with Children Shelter

resident female with her child in the 'Women with Children' Shelter at the city mission

City Mission is Now Equipped to Help Women with Children

On average, Thompson watches four or five children each day, ranging in age from six months to twelve years old.  “I’m here to assist the moms and the kids,” she explained.  “The moms who find themselves at City Mission are working hard to improve their lives by taking classes, applying for jobs, and looking for housing.   I help them with childcare, so they can focus on those things.  So they can concentrate on what they need to do for themselves and for their children to move forward.”    

Lack of reliable childcare is a significant barrier for single mothers who are trying to attain or sustain employment, further their education, or work on their recovery.  Unreliable childcare is one of the many factors that has made single women with children the fastest-growing homeless population in the United States.

According to the Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children and Youth, 2.5 million children are homeless each year, and families with children now make up almost 40% of the overall homeless population.  Homeless children are at greater risk and suffer more physical and mental health issues and developmental delays than other children.  The National Child Traumatic Stress Network claims that homeless children are twice as sick, have twice the rate of learning disabilities, and three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems.  By the time homeless children are eight years old, one in three has a significant mental disorder.  

Thanks to generous donations, thoughtful planning, and a lot of hard work, City Mission is now equipped to help women with children overcome these barriers and break the cycle of hopelessness and despair.

Thanks to generous donations, thoughtful planning, and a lot of hard work, City Mission is now equipped to help women with children overcome these barriers and break the cycle of hopelessness and despair.

“We are blessed to be able to provide full-time childcare, so our residents can focus on their recovery and removing whatever barriers and challenges brought them to us in the first place,” said City Mission Director of Residential Programs, Leah Dietrich.  “They can know that their children are safe.  We’ve never been able to give our women with children everything that they need…but now we can.”

Thompson, the Childcare Coordinator, is an essential part of City Mission’s plan to support homeless women with children.  As a trained art teacher with degrees in Art History and Art Education, she is also working to inspire and enrich the lives of the children.  “I do a lot with the kids educationally.  We do ABC’s and 123’s.  Our theme this week is creation, so we’re learning about science, animals, plants, stars.”  As an art teacher, her favorite activities to do with the kids are art projects.  They draw, paint, and build collages.  For Christmas, they made Nativity scenes.    

“But the kids’ favorite activity we do is music,” Thompson added.  “They are at a great age when they like to dance, sing, and perform.  Next week’s theme is ‘Make a Joyful Noise,’ and we’ll be making instruments and singing.”

Thompson, a mother herself, has also taken on a role as a mentor for the young moms in the Program.  “This is an opportunity to have more positive support in the lives of the kids and for the mothers,” said Dietrich.  “As a mother herself, Lynne is a sounding board for our moms.”  

Thompson agreed, “Because I’m here, I can help with advice for a lot of these moms.  Young moms have a lot of questions, and I get to be here to help and encourage them.”

“This job is a lot of responsibility,” she continued.  “It’s amazing that these moms trust me to take care of their children.  Some of them come from hard places.  It can be difficult to trust.  I thank the moms for trusting me and allowing me to have time with their little ones.”

Every day at the Childcare Center is exciting and unpredictable.  “There really are no average days,” Thompson explained.  “You never know what each day will bring.  One of the mom’s could have an interview, or one of the kids might be sick.  You just have to be able to roll with it.  You never know what’s going to happen here.”

“I create lesson plans and plan activities, but I also have to be able to adapt the lessons to who we have.  If it’s a snow day or a break from school, we’ll have more older kids who won’t want to do what the younger ones are doing.”

City Mission’s Women with Children Shelter is working to strengthen our community by building strong families, empowering independent women, and nurturing happy and confident children.

“I just love what is happening in this program,” said Dietrich, Director of Residential Programs.  “We see families reunited, healing together, finding faith together, being supported and leaving with a solid foundation.  Everyone in the program feels loved and supported!”

Thompson added, “This is a great program.  The women who have the courage to take that step and ask for help, they have to be strong already.  They want to make a better life for their children.  Not one of these women has ever put themselves first.  It’s always about trying to make a better life for their children.”    

March 19, 2019
Susan Gartland - Social Media Manager
Sue Gartland
Social Media Manager
Sue has a vast career in gospel rescue missions adding great value to the City Mission team. Sue has been in many roles in the mission and is always filling in where she is needed - which is A LOT!

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City Mission Vets Give Back

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July 8, 2020

On July 3, City Mission’s Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House celebrated two years of life transformation for homeless veterans. “This house is a testament to what can happen when a group of guys trust and believe in each other and work together to accomplish one another’s goals,” said Steve Adams, City Mission’s Manager of Veterans Services. Since opening its doors in 2018, the Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House has helped restore 27 homeless veterans to independent living and helped 33 residents gain sustainable income. Boasting a 74% overall success rate for housing, employment, income, recovery, and spirituality, the Crabtree House is helping to restore hope and confidence for the 22 veterans they serve. City Mission’s program is about veterans helping veterans. The response from local veterans’ organizations who have donated money, clothes, food, and time to the residents has been overwhelming. “The donors have been so generous to this house,” said Tim, an Air Force veteran who came to the Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House in October 2018 after breaking his hip. “The amount of donations that come in -- it’s just an overabundance. For me, it’s important to find a good way to give back.” In addition to getting help for our veterans, our residents are also finding ways to give help to other veterans. Every day, they are helping, supporting, and encouraging each other. “Vets are more willing and able to open up to other veterans,” explained Adams. Tim agreed, “It’s a matter of taking an oath and making a commitment. We all held up our end of the bargain for our country. And maybe that’s what sets us apart. An oath really does mean something to each and every one of us.” Veterans helping and supporting each other is key to their recovery. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, “The most effective programs for homeless and at-risk veterans are community-based, nonprofit, “veterans helping veterans” groups. Programs that seem to work best feature transitional housing with the camaraderie of living in structured, substance-free environments with fellow veterans who are succeeding at bettering themselves.” But the veterans in City Mission’s program are also reaching out to the community and giving back. Wendi Kraemer is the President and founder of Angels Journey Home, a rescue shelter for animals. A few years ago, her organization partnered with the Veterans Administration to create the Angels For Everyday Heroes program, which rescues animals, trains them to be service animals, and then connects them with veterans in need all over the country. “There are so many homeless veterans in need,” she said. “So many suffering every day.” Her organization donates to the Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House every couple of months. “We’re here for vets,” she said. They were able to donate a nice suit to a resident who said he had never owned one. They even donated special shoes to a resident who suffered with foot pain related to diabetes. Last spring, a small group of residents from the Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House went over to Kraemer’s 10-acre facility to give back. “They came and picked up trash, laid mulch all around the property,” Kraemer said. “We have a cat sanctuary, and they helped us out with that. It was great watching them laugh and joke around and just disconnect from their problems.” Joe, an Air Force veteran who came to the Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House in April of last year, was there that day, helping to give back. “It was a lot of fun. I love doing that kind of stuff,” he said. Joe replaced some roof boards on the cat sanctuary. Tim helped Kraemer sort through donated pet supplies. Joe and Tim both agreed it felt good to give back to an organization that is doing good in the world. “It’s good to feel productive,” Tim explained. “That’s rewarding in and of itself.”

A New Lease on Life

Resident 'Tim' takes a smoke break
June 12, 2020

“A New Lease on Life” In 2018, Tim, an Air Force veteran, was living in a hotel behind a bar. He had lost his Mom and his job of nearly twenty years in 2010, and his life had been slowly unraveling ever since. “Before I came here,” he said, “there wasn’t a single activity in my life that didn’t involve a drink – even taking a shower.” On July 6, he tripped over a pine root in the dark and broke his hip. “I was intoxicated,” he explained. “I haven’t had a drink since that night. That just woke me up. I firmly believe God laid His hand on me.” That freak accident eventually led him to City Mission, where, in August 2018, after hip surgery and eight weeks in physical therapy, he began the work of healing his mind, body, and spirit. Tim was born and raised in Monongahela. His Dad, who had been a Navy gunner in World War Two, was a crane operator for a steel mill in McKeesport, and his Mom was a Registered Nurse for a local hospital. He spent 12 years in Catholic School and received an excellent education. After graduation, he knew he needed a change of scenery after dabbling with drugs and alcohol his last few years of high school. Also, his dad foresaw the closing of local mills and knew that times would be hard financially in the Mon Valley for years to come, so Tim joined the Air Force, attending Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX. After Basic Training, he trained to be an Air Crew Life Support Specialist. He would pack and maintain emergency items for the flight crew, such as flight helmets and survival kits – a job requiring significant attention to detail. In 1991, several years after leaving the military and returning home to the Mon Valley, he began working as a custodian for a school district in the South Hills, and he worked there for nearly twenty years. “It was the best job I ever had,” he said. “It wasn’t a high-paying job, but I really liked the people I worked with. It was very close-knit. And it was something different every day. It was the only job I ever had when I didn’t dread going to work.” Then in 2003, his drinking started to become more and more of a problem. “It was my own fault,” he said. “I can’t blame anyone but myself.” In 2010, he went to rehab, but he couldn’t complete the outpatient part of the program, because his mother, who had been ill, passed away. Completing the program was a requirement for returning to work, so he lost his job. Devastated, he moved to Oklahoma with his sister just to get away and start fresh, but that only lasted a few years. “This is home,” he explained. “The roots are sunk deep.” He moved back to the Mon Valley, but with his family all gone, he had nowhere to stay, so he lived for the next five years in a hotel behind a bar until the night he fell and broke his hip. He came to City Mission in August of 2018 and then moved into the Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House that October. “This place affords you all the opportunities you need to heal,” he said. “It’s not a homeless shelter in the way you think. They offer career placement and medical care and classes. It’s a place to heal your mind, body, and spirit. When you heal physically, it helps with your recovery, and that helps you re-establish your relationship with Christ. And you’re just a walking shell unless you have a relationship with Christ. Mind, body, and spirit -- they all three mesh together.” “City Mission gave me a sense of self-worth and put me back in touch with the Lord,” he added. “Knowing that I could be of service is important to me. I just want to do something positive, effect positive change, and I know I’ve made positive contributions here.” “At the Crabtree House, we have confidence and self-respect. Perhaps it’s from our military experience. We’re all brother veterans, all working together for the betterment of all. I’m grateful to be able to have a sense of pride in something. And we take pride in that house.” “Thanks for saving my life,” he said to all the staff at City Mission. “For giving me a new lease on life.”