City Mission Residents Go Back to School

Brianna Kadlecik stands at a white-board providing instruction during a classroom session

City Mission's Career Training and Education Center (CTEC) in Action

On June 11, the City Mission Career Training and Education Center offered a three-week Customer Service and Sales Fundamentals training course.  All three students who took the course successfully completed a National Retail Federation exam and attained a certificate that they can now list on their resumes and present to prospective employers.  “We’re trying to show our residents that we can be a really great support system for them,” said Brianna Kadlecik, the Vocational Assistant at City Mission’s Career Training and Education Center.  There are more people on their team than they think.  I’m on their team.  Everyone here at the Mission is on their team.

Brianna Kadlecik, is the Vocational Assistant for Career Training and Education.  The course consists of both classroom training, which Kadlecik designed with creative exercises, role plays, and discussions to engage every type of learner, and practical, on-the-job training at Hidden Treasures, a thrift store owned and operated by City Mission, where students can put into practice what they learn in the classroom.  Sharon, Joe, and Dave, the three students in the class, worked hard to learn new terms and concepts that will help them achieve a stable and independent life after they leave City Mission.  

Sharon is not a City Mission resident but a member of the Washington community who is taking full advantage of the services the mission provides in order to improve her life and get a better job.  She has worked in retail, but she says that the Customer Service and Sales Fundamentals class helped her to see her past retail experience in a different way.   “I learned about things that were going on behind the scenes,” she said “that I didn’t realize when I was working.  ”The City Mission Career Training and Education Center also helped her build her resume.  “That was the hardest part for me.  I had to seriously rework everything and create a whole new resume.  But now I have a resume I’m proud of.”

Joe, 57, has been a City Mission resident for 10 months.  “I’m ready to go out and sell a Mercedes,” he said after completing the course.  He never worked in retail, but he did work for 23 years in a warehouse.  “Brianna is really good at holding you accountable and keeping you motivated,“ he said.  “I took this course, because I want to prove to myself that I’m capable of holding myself accountable.  And I think it’s important to remain teachable.  It’s been 30 years since I was in a classroom."  

When Dave came to the mission 7 months ago, he was amazed.  “On the day I walked in,” he explained “I said to myself, ‘this is a homeless shelter?  No way.’  Words can’t describe it.  It feels more like a family than anything.  It baffled me that everyone was so welcoming.  ”He worked at a local restaurant for 6 and a half years, 2 years as a line cook and 4 and a half as the head chef.  “It was very stressful,” he said.  “I think I’m done with that.”  He’s not sure yet what he wants to do after he finishes the City Mission program, but he is grateful for the opportunity to take this course and continue to better himself while identifying options for his future career.  

According to Kadlecik, one of the goals of the training is “to help students gain a deeper understanding of all the opportunities available within retail and to envision themselves within that bigger picture.”  But it’s also about more than that.  “Every resident has potential and a future,” she explained.  “It’s my job to help them see that.  They are battling so many things that, sometimes, they think they have no value.  I try to help them think about their future and to understand that making a living is about more than just getting by.  ”Kadlecik hopes that this course can springboard students into a job or career that can be their first step to a better life. “We have the ability to provide tangible hope for their future,” she explained.  “We are doing work that directly translates into who they will be when they leave the Mission.  Our job is to help our residents see the value in themselves --  to help them become more confident, more independent, so they can market themselves to employers with renewed confidence.”“It’s a joy for me every day to work with residents,”  she said.  “It is an absolute honor that they trust me with their struggles and their stories.  Every day, I get to help them bridge the gap between recovery and independent, sustainable living.

3 City Mission residents receive training certificates
Joe, Sharon and Dave

Steve Nicholas, Director of Vocational Services with Brianna Kadlecik
Steve Nicholas, Director of Vocational Services with Brianna Kadlecik

August 26, 2018
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!
sgartland@citymission.org

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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.”