Tammy and Richard Get Their Keys

Women with Children Shelter

Tammy Reunites with Her Son and Gets Her Own Place

Tammy and her son, Richard, recently moved out of City Mission and into their very own place.

Tammy first came to the Mission in November of last year from a drug treatment facility.  When Tammy came to the Mission, she made it her purpose to regain custody of her son, who had been in the foster system for several years.  While staying with us, she worked very hard on her drug and alcohol recovery, earned resume-building certificates at our Career Training and Education Center, and learned soft job skills while working in our Samaritan Care Center – all in an effort to not only better herself but also to reunite with her son.

And all of her hard work finally paid off.  “I’ll always remember the excitement Tammy had when she came to my office and told me that CYS was placing her child back with her full time,” said Sheila Namy, the Manager of our Women and Children Program.  “I had never seen her smile so big as in that moment!”

Richard,age 7, moved in with his Mom at our Women with Children Shelter and made himself right at home.  “My favorite memory of Richard,” added Namy, “is of him walking around in the shelter dressed like one of the ghostbusters making sure the shelter was safe from ghosts.”

Recently, Namy took Tammy and Richard to see their new home, and all three were overwhelmed with emotion.  “When I walked with Tammy and Richard up to their new apartment,” said Namy, “and heard her exclaim that she’d never in her life had a place of her own and Richard was running around and around in the yard with excitement as he looked around at his new neighborhood.  It’s moments like that that make every long workday so worth it!”

So Tammy and Richard are starting a new chapter in their life, and they’re doing it together.  The staff and residents of our Women with Children Shelter, prayed over them as they packed up and moved to their very own place for the first time together.  

“Our Mission family is really gonna miss them,” added Namy, “but we’re so happy they’ve found a new home.”

When Tammy reunited with her son, Richard, it was a dream come true.  Your support made it possible.  Visit www.citymission.org to see how you can help make miracles happen at City Mission.

June 24, 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.

Recent Articles

Fully Restored

Patrick in front of City Mission's chapel
June 25, 2024

After rehab, Patrick walked over 70 miles to get to City Mission, because he knew this was right where he needed to be. It took him three days. “I knew right away I was in the right place when I got here,” said Patrick, “The first thing I remember is they asked me if I was hungry and they gave me a meal. And I was starving!” “Before I got here, I was just fumbling through life and didn’t have much hope,” he added. “City Mission restored my faith. I’m happy again. It’s amazing! I wish I could put it in better words than that.” Patrick grew up, one of seven kids, in Carnegie. He had a good upbringing. His parents were very hard workers, and he inherited a strong work ethic from them. In the early 2000’s, Patrick was active duty in the Air Force for four years. After he finished his service, he had difficulty reintegrating to society. “Since I came home from active duty,” he explained, “I kind of struggled with jobs, hopping from job to job.” He also moved around a lot and couldn’t get settled. “I had a hard time staying in one place,” he added, “having a plan, and sticking to it.” He fell into a work hard, play hard type of mentality and ended up getting into heavy drugs, which became an addiction that tore his whole world apart. “When I was in addiction, I didn’t love and value myself,” he said. “I had no hope. It was a deep, dark feeling. Now, since coming to the Mission, I’m fully restored as a person. I love who I am now. I love getting to know people and helping people. I have a love for life.” City Mission taught Patrick to be honest with himself and others, to stick to a schedule, and to build meaningful relationships. The Mission staff and his fellow residents surrounded him with love, and Patrick grew deeper into a life-changing relationship with Christ. Recently, Patrick moved out of City Mission’s Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House and into his very own place. We are so proud of the work that Patrick has done to improve his life, and we’re proud of the man he has become. “I’m thankful to the Mission, because I have my life today,” Patrick said. “I’m sober. I have my friends and family back. I wish I had the words to describe it. It’s an amazing feeling. City Mission has completely changed my life.” There are 22 veterans, just like Patrick, in our Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House who just need a little love, support, and encouragement to get their lives back on track. You can help restore their purpose and dignity. Visit www.citymission.org.

"I Was Meant to Come Here"

May 9, 2024

Hali has three beautiful children: James, 7, and twin girls Lyla and Lillie, age 2. Hali and the kids’ father had been in an on and off relationship since high school. When his substance abuse issues started getting out of control and creating a negative environment for her children, Hali decided to break it off with him for good. It was the right decision, but it left her and her kids with no place of their own. They moved in with her parents for a while, but that got to be pretty complicated, so they ended up living with Hali’s friend in Indiana, PA. But there was little stability or consistency. Hali’s mind was constantly racing, trying to figure out ways to care for her kids. She had calls in to some local shelters, but none had called her back. Then, her Mom, who just so happens to be our President Emeritus, Dean Gartland’s niece, told her about City Mission. “Why didn’t you tell me about this place sooner,” she told her mom, and she made the call to City Mission. Becky McDonald, our Intake Coordinator called her back right away. We didn’t have a room available immediately, but Becky called her back to check in every few days, and within a couple of weeks, a spot opened up for her. But Hali had no vehicle and no way of getting to the Mission. So the City Mission van made the two-hour drive out to Indiana to pick her up and give her a ride back here. At the Mission, she found peace and stability, and she began to develop trust and build strong relationships. Hali grew up primarily in Munhall, about twenty minutes from Pittsburgh, but she and her family moved around quite a bit. She was the second youngest of five kids. Her dad was an avid fisherman, and she has vivid memories of going on fishing and camping trips with him and her brothers. In high school, she was a good student. She enrolled in a vocational education program in high school and planned to be a nurse. At the end of the program, she would have finished with a Certified Nursing Assistant license. But her family moved during her Senior year, and she was unable to complete the program. When she was 19, she got pregnant with her son, James. “I had always wanted to be a mom,” she explained. When she was young, her family called her a “mother hen,” because she was always pretending to be a mom for her cousins and her younger sister. So when she found out she was expecting, she was extremely excited, and her parents were very supportive. But it was a rough pregnancy, filled with anxiety. Finally, at 41 weeks, she had an emergency C-section, and her son was born. “That moment was perfect,” she said. When Hali finally came to City Mission, it gave her a sense of peace for her and her family. “Moms don’t typically like to ask for help,” she said. “But I know I was meant to come here, and everyone has been so nice and welcoming. You literally get support from everybody – staff, residents. And my kids love it here too.” Her children love hanging out on our playground, and they are building strong relationships with the other kids. They also love spending time with Victoria, City Mission’s new Childcare Coordinator. City Mission has given Hali a sense of hope for her future. She wants to go back to school and learn a trade – maybe welding or general construction. And during her time here, she has also learned to trust others. It has been difficult for her to entrust her kids with other people, but her son, who she had previously homeschooled, is now going to public school and is making friends. Her daughters often stay in our childcare area during the time when Hali is going to classes and working to create a brighter future for her family. “City Mission gives you a sense of relief,” Hali said. “It gives you the knowledge that you have support and that you’re not alone. You don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.” Hali is learning to put her trust in God, and she even hopes to get baptized someday soon. She wants to raise her kids in the church and teach them to grow in their faith day by day. This Mothers’ Day, and every day, you can help moms like Hali find a fresh start and a sense of hope for the future. Visit citymission.org to learn what you can do to help those in need.

"Never Going Back"

Michael at City Mission
March 22, 2024

“I was beat down, sleeping in a tent, drinking. I had nowhere to go, no pupose to continue living,” said Michael, a current City Mission resident. “I was drinking myself into submission, and that was alright with me. That’s what I did all my life…Then, I saw a sign on a bus that said ‘City Mission, Hope for the Homeless.’” Before he came to City Mission, Michael was living in a tent near the Wild Things stadium in Washington. Alcohol had derailed his life. He had just lost his job, the only lifeline he had left. His daughter hadn’t spoken to him in months. So he got on a bus to head back to Pittsburgh, with no real idea what he was going to do next, when he saw a flyer that said, “City Mission: Hope for the Homeless.” He asked the bus driver about us, and the bus he was riding actually had a stop at the Mission. So Michael got off the bus and sat out front on his cooler of beer in front of our chapel, drinking up the courage to ask for help. “When you’re in addiction, you don’t like to ask for help,” he explained. Before long, Jared Nolan, City Mission’s RSS Supervisor, and Dave Green, our Men’s Intake Coordinator, came out and asked him if he needed anything. “Jared and Dave saved my life,” Michael said. When he came to City Mission, he was expecting a dark, open area filled with cots and a rowdy bunch of drunk guys fighting over stuff. But when he came to the Mission, he found a place filled with light. “It wasn’t what I expected at all,” he explained. “There were dorms with sober people who were offering to help me out rather than take what I had. People came up to me and said, ‘if you need anything, let me know.’” He didn’t have many clothes, so the Mission let him go through a donation bin and pick out anything he wanted. Later, he was given a clothing voucher to pick out whatever he needed at our Thrift Store. “I wasn’t sure I was gonna stay. I didn’t have anything,” he said. “But the Mission took care of me. They got me food, hygiene products, a bed, a hot shower, everything I needed.” The Mission took care of him, so he stayed. Michael grew up in Carnegie the youngest of five kids, being raised by a single Mom. His dad left the family shortly after he was born. When he was 12, his mom sent him away to boarding school in Hershey, PA, where he lived for four years, going to school and working on a dairy farm that helped to produce the milk for Hershey’s chocolate. His mom sent him away to school so that he would have a better start in life than his older brothers. Unfortunately, when he was 16, he started drinking alcohol, because his friends at school were doing it. He left the school and moved back home, but his mom was busy working all the time, so he was left on his own a lot. He did get a job working for a roofing company. He worked really hard, and he made good money. He continued to do that work for more than two decades. He worked hard, and then he drank hard as a way of celebrating his hard work. In 2004, he met his wife, and they had a baby together. He loved being a dad. “Deep inside, I always wanted a family,” he said. “When my daughter was born, I thought a lot about her future. There were things I thought about back then that I really wanted to become a reality.” In 2018, his wife left, and he became a single dad. In 2020, when the COVID lockdown happened, he was laid off from his job, and he started receiving unemployment. At the same time, his daughter was home from school, learning remotely. He had nothing to do but sit home and drink, so that’s what he did all the time, every day. When his unemployment benefits dried up, he tried to go back to work, but he couldn’t quit drinking, so he couldn’t hold down any jobs. Eventually, there were no roofing companies left that would hire him. His daughter moved out when she graduated high school, because she couldn’t stand to be around his drinking. He lost his house and started living on friends’ couches. Eventually, he ended up living in a tent in Washington, PA. After he came to City Mission, he started seeing things differently. “I never considered myself very likeable,” he explained. “I just thought I was a bad person. I tried to hide from people my whole life. City Mission is teaching me I can love myself. I do have purpose. I just have to work on it to better myself. I’m never gonna be perfect, but if I just keep working on it, I can be a good person that people can trust, that people can count on.” Last November, he missed his daughter’s birthday. She hadn’t spoken to him and didn’t really want him around. It was incredibly hard for Michael, because he had never missed her birthday before. When Christmastime rolled around, City Mission House Coordinator, Matt Chase, asked him what he was going to get for his daughter for Christmas. “Nothing,” he answered. “I don’t have anything to give her.” Matt took him up to the City Mission attic where we store all of our donations that can’t be used right away. Michael picked out a whole bag full of Christmas gifts he thought she would like. “How are you going to get it to her,” Matt asked. “I don’t know,” Michael told him. “I know where she works, but I don’t have any way to get there.” The next morning, Matt drove him to Carnegie. She wasn’t at work that day, but he was able to leave the presents there for her. The next morning, she video-called him on the phone to tell him thank you and to say she was sorry for not talking to him and that she was glad he was getting the help he needs. It was the first time he had seen her face in nine months. “I’ll never forget that,” Michael said. “I still get emotional when I think about it. It gives me hope that maybe someday, I can do something that special for somebody.” “I pray a lot since coming here,” he continued. “I ask God to keep me safe, to keep my daughter safe. And these prayers are being answered by people stepping up to help me. God put me here to give me a second chance. I really believe that. I’m going to make Washington my home. I’m never going back to Carnegie. I’m not going back to my old way of life. I’ve come too far, and I’ve seen how good life can be.” Now, Michael has a job that he loves where he can give back. He gets to see his daughter, and he talks to her regularly. His life is turning around. His future is bright. You can help Michael and many more here at City Mission to continue their journeys of life-transformation. Visit www.citymission.org/donate to learn more about how you can help.

"I Couldn't Live Like That Anymore"

Emily with her daughter, Faith
January 26, 2024

Emily looked out the window of the bus and breathed a sigh of relief as it pulled away. She had escaped undetected. “I was leaving a violent relationship, heading to Pittsburgh to hide.” It was hard to believe that her life had come to this, so far removed from the love and security she’d known as a little girl. “My dad was a pastor, and I was homeschooled and sheltered.” But when she was 13, Emily started public school without any warning about the dangers she’d face. “It was a drastic change and I fell in with the wrong crowd and started using drugs.” For years, she struggled with addiction, weakening her faith, alienating her family, and eventually, forcing her to flee in fear for her life. But after she arrived in Pittsburgh, she wound up homeless, struggling to survive. “I couldn’t live like that anymore,” she says. Emily completed rehab, but before she left, she discovered that she was expecting. And, in that moment, she cried out to God for a safe place to have her child and change her life. That’s when He led her to our Women and Children’s Shelter, where she found a warm bed, nutritious meals and the love and support she needed to navigate her pregnancy, which is very high-risk, because she has a mechanical heart valve after two open-heart surgeries. All along, it was very uncertain if she would even be able to carry her daughter to full term. Since then, Emily has given birth to a beautiful baby girl, who she named Faith. “It’s been an incredible journey,” Emily explained. “It’s a miracle that she and I survived labor and delivery. And she’s healthy.” Also, through the biblical counseling and life skills classes available at the Mission, Emily has been able to address the root causes of her addiction and become the kind of mother she always hoped to be. “I’ve learned to listen to God, follow Him and make lasting changes.” Through the love of Christ and with the support of City Mission, Emily has been able to restore broken relationships with her family members, and she and her daughter have successfully moved out of the Mission and into their very own home, together. One day, Emily hopes to go into ministry, helping other addicted women find freedom in Christ. Today, she has hope, and she wants to thank YOU for supporting her journey toward a new life. “City Mission gave me the courage to heal and make a fresh start.”

Larry Got His Keys!!

Larry Got His Keys
October 20, 2023

Larry recently moved into his very own place here in Washington after a year and half stay at the Mission. He is also gainfully employed in the service industry, which will help him sustain his independence. Larry came to us with a history of substance abuse, and he was mostly isolated from family and friends because of it. Also, he arrived at City Mission as part of Washington County’s Mental Health Court program, which according to the county website, is a “problem-solving court devoted to handling moderate to severe mental health cases that have become involved with the criminal justice system.” When he came to the Mission, he was a little reserved and apprehensive, but we had the great priviledge to watch him grow and blossom during his time here. He deepened his relationship with Christ and poured himself into 12-step recovery. “They say meeting-makers make it,” said Housing Coordinator, Matt Chase, “and Larry was at a 12-step meeting every opportunity that was available to him.” Additionally, he proved to be very diligent about his mental health medication. With his deepening faith, his commitment to his recovery, and his mental health stability, he has been able to transform his life. He even rekindled his relationship with his son. “During the summer,” Chase explained, “Larry and his son would visit Kennywood and they were able to make precious memories together that weren’t possible when Larry was in active addiction.” Larry graduated from our life recovery program and moved out successfully and independently into his own place. In December, he is expected to graduate from the Mental Health Court program. We couldn’t be happier for his success or more proud of all the work he has done to break through the barriers that had previously held him back. We continue to pray for him on his journey of recovery and hope. “He has been an astounding example to the other folks in the program,” said Chase. “Larry is a vision of hope and living proof that God is still in the business of miracles.”

Ride Like the Wind

Greg at City Mission
August 4, 2023

“The people here at City Mission cared about me when I couldn’t even care about myself,” Greg said of his experience at the Mission. “They showed me love and understanding when I couldn’t even love and understand myself.” Greg grew up in Turtle Creek, the youngest of five kids. “I was a spoiled little brat,” he said. He always had nice clothes and cool stuff. He got away with everything. He was the baby of the family. But he also experienced more than his share of trauma when he was young. “My story is full of the deaths of loved ones,” he explained. Greg’s childhood idol, Roger, rode motorcycles. “Roger would pick me up and put me on his bike and ride me up the hill,” Greg explained. “Whenever I heard the engine of that bike, no matter where I was or what I was doing, I dropped everything and came running.” When Greg was just six years old, Roger wrecked his bike and was killed. It was devastating for Greg to lose his boyhood idol at such a young age, but it didn’t diminish his lifelong love of motorcycles. When Greg was 12, his dad died on Christmas. “That’s when my addiction really took off,” he said. “I hated God. I was angry all the time. I worried about everything. I started having nightmares. I would sleepwalk and wake up shouting, ‘Jesus doesn’t love me. He never loved me.’” Drugs and alcohol momentarily took his anger and his worry away, so he started chasing after them so he could stay in that feeling of numbness as often as possible. But he never learned to deal with his problems or his pain, so everything just continued to get worse. He did receive some social security benefits after his father’s death. His mom had a job and didn’t need the money for the household, so he spent it all on cool sneakers, nice clothes, and alcohol. He bought himself a dirtbike and learned to ride. In high school, he was a star athlete, but he dropped out of school so he could party. He was getting into fistfights all the time. “I was never really fighting anyone else. I was just fighting what was inside of me,” he explained. “I was fighting my own demons.” When he was 19, he got his first DUI, but the charges were dropped. When he was 21, he went away to state prison for four years. He ended up spending most of the 1990’s in prison. While he was in prison, his Mom passed away. He never really got to say goodbye. He tried to turn his life around, and he got clean for a while in his 20’s and was even engaged to be married to a good, stable young woman who was studying to work in the medical field. On July 4th, she died suddenly of a brain aneurysm, and his life spiraled again. When he was 29, he had his first operation. Arthritis was wreaking havoc on the whole left side of body, and between ages 29 and 47, he would have 13 total operations, including an ACL replacement in his left knee, a reconstruction of his left ankle, reconstructive surgery on his jaw, shoulder reconstruction, and five total hernia surgeries. After one of his hernia surgeries, his body had a bad reaction to the surgical mesh used in the operation, and he was in constant pain for the next eight years. “I went to the emergency room 52 times in eight years,” he explained. During that time, he started doing heavier drugs to help deal with the constant pain he was enduring. “I was angry all the time,” he said. “Angry at myself. I would lash out, get into fights. For me, frustration and depression always turned into anger, because I didn’t know how to handle it.” When the surgical mesh was finally removed and the previous surgery corrected, he started feeling better physically, and he started to put together some clean time. He got a good job in a manufacturing plant in Lancaster County. “I was running my own department,” he said. “I’d be a superviser there now if I had stayed.” But he relapsed. He moved back to Pittsburgh and stayed clean for a while. Only to relapse again. And he had his first experiences with fentanyl. “It got really weird,” he explained. “I was yelling out the windows and talking to dead people. I broke everything in my house. I broke the tv. I had obituaries of strangers just spread out all over the house. I was losing my mind.” In a short period of time, Greg overdosed 24 times. “Eight of those times were really serious,” he said. “I woke up in the hospital. But sometimes, I’d come to on the floor, soaked in sweat. Every three times I would do drugs, I would OD. I was slowly dying. I had no desire to live anymore, but I was too scared to blow my own head off.” Greg believed that suicide was a mortal sin and that he wouldn’t see his loved ones in the afterlife if he killed himself. So he just kept killing the pain with drugs. “They gave me energy and took away all my pain,” he explained. “I didn’t feel nothing. No physical pain. No mental anguish. Addiction is a disease of feelings. I just didn’t want to feel anything anymore.” His body deteriorated to 150 pounds. He was simply withering away, waiting to die, until one day, his biker friends all came over to his house for an intervention. Each one of them poured out their hearts and let him know how much he meant to them. He went to rehab that night. While in rehab, he met City Mission Chaplain and Housing Coordinator, Doug Bush. And Greg knew that if he was really going to change, he needed to get right with God. After rehab, he came to City Mission to get his life back on track. “After eight months at the Mission, I accomplished so much,” he said. “I’m not at all the angry person I was not that long ago. I got my social security benefits. My resentments are pretty much all gone. Even my resentments against myself. Now, when I start to worry or when I feel the anger starting up, I just pray to God. I pray for strength. I pray prayers of gratitude. I pray for the anger to get pulled away from me. And it always does. And mostly, I pray for others.” “City Mission has given me a place to sit still,” he added. “They taught me patience. They taught me how to trust people again. They gave me something to believe in and taught me that there is something bigger than myself. They taught me how to pray and how to deal with my anxieties.” “You know, if anybody else would have done the things to me that I did to myself, I would’ve beat them up. Instead, I just beat myself up. And I just always thought that I deserved all the pain in my life and all the problems. But the Mission taught me that I’m not a bad person. They taught me how to be able to deal with myself.” “You can’t worry about yesterday,” Greg added. “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery, so you gotta live in the present. When you look in your rearview mirror, you only see a small picture, a limited view. Doing that kept me in my addiction for a long time.” Recently, Greg moved out of the Mission. He moved in with his stepson, while he looks for a place of his own. Today, he is looking forward to his future. “Today, I have no desire to put that junk in me ever again. I have no desire to die. I want to live. I want to have happiness.” And even with all his pain and physical ailments, he still wants to ride his motorcycle. “I’m going to ride my motorcycle for as long as I can. That’s my passion. To me, it’s freedom. It’s the best therapy I’ve ever had. When I get on a bike, all my pains are gone. I can ride for miles.” Greg has been given a second chance. Every day, more people just like Greg, come through our doors in need of healing and restoration. Please consider donating to City Mission HERE to help them turn their lives around.