Happy at Last

Shawn at work in ihis room at the vets house

He's Been Through Every Type of Suffering a Human Being Can Go Through - and He's Still Here

Shawn in his room in the Vets House
Shawn takes time time out for a photo

“I’ve been through about every type of suffering a human being can go through, and I’m still here. And I’m still positive.  If that isn’t God, I don’t know what is,” said Shawn, a former Army Combat Engineer and current resident at the Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House.  Since coming to City Mission, Shawn has transformed his life.  “I’m getting my mind, body, and soul back,” he said.  “This place is definitely a God-send.  It’s so peaceful here.  For the longest time I didn’t even consider myself a veteran.  Now, I’m proud to be a vet.  That’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned here.”Shawn is now studying for a Criminal Justice degree and enjoying life.

Shawn’s mother passed away when he was 8, and his later childhood was marked by punches to the face and kicks to the stomach that passed as “discipline.”  Later in life, he suffered multiple sexual abuses and turned to drugs to numb the pain.  Eventually, this led him to full-blown addiction.  He overdosed three times and had to be revived, including once when his son found him on the bathroom floor.   He spent 12 years in prison.  At one point, he even tried to kill himself.

“But God said, ‘Nope.  Not yet.  I’m not done with you,’” he explained.  “I’m actually happy right now,” he said.  “And I’ll tell any vet, there is hope!  This place gives it to you for real!”

“But God said, ‘Nope.  Not yet.  I’m not done with you,’” he explained.  “I’m actually happy right now,” he said.  “And I’ll tell any vet, there is hope!  This place gives it to you for real!”

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December 12, 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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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.”