Up and Running

Matt and Wayne in training for their marathon

Matt and Wayne Don't Have Time for Coronavirus - They're Running Virtually!

“I always ran away from everything.  I’m a natural runner.  I run from problems and responsibilities,” said Matt, a former City Mission resident who has been training to run the full Pittsburgh Marathon.  “But I feel like this time I’m actually running toward something.”

There are many paths that can lead people to a homeless shelter, but recovering from a period of homelessness in your life almost always requires a profound life change -- building better relationships, starting healthier habits, making new choices.  A new life is no easy thing to come by.

During a morning devotional in the City Mission chapel, City Mission House Coordinator, Wayne Heckman, announced that he would be training for the Pittsburgh Marathon, and he invited the residents to join him.  “Something just spoke to me right then,” Matt explained.  “I thought, this could be a way to redeem my confidence and my ability to go after a goal.”

Wayne and Matt have been training together since early January.  Twice a week, Wayne wakes up at 4 in the morning and drives to the Mission from his home in Dormont to meet Matt for a run.  Together, they do a five-mile circuit through Washington, even on the coldest, darkest winter mornings.  “We typically run at 5 am.  Sometimes, it’s cold and miserable,” Matt explained.  “But it’s also really peaceful.”  To keep warm, he wears thermals and a neoprene hoodie that just “popped up in the donation box” one day from a generous donor.

There are many paths that can lead people to a homeless shelter, but recovering from a period of homelessness in your life almost always requires a profound life change -- building better relationships, starting healthier habits, making new choices.  A new life is no easy thing to come by.

Wayne and Matt run together twice a week to provide mutual encouragement.  “The consistency and the camaraderie of the training is definitely beneficial to my recovery,” Matt explained.  He also runs two additional days a week on his own, including his long run on Saturday.  His longest run to date is 15 miles.  “I felt like I got hit by a truck after that,” he explained.  “I’m just really proud of both of them,” said Leah Dietrich, City Mission’s Director of Residential Programs.  She has been very impressed by their commitment and the bond they have formed over this shared experience.  “Look at what Matt has shown himself that he can do, and the amount of dedication they’ve both shown is phenomenal.”

Wayne has been a runner since he was a kid.  When he was in his early twenties, he started training for several marathons but never actually ran in any of them.  “I’ve been a good quitter my whole life,” he explained.  Then in 2011, he finally ran in and finished the Philadelphia Marathon.  “It was a kind of spiritual experience, like climbing a mountain,” he said.  “When you cross the tape, they drape a robe over you, hand you a medal, and say ‘congratulations, marathoner.’  I told myself, if I can ever help someone else have that experience, I will.”

Matt, who is originally from North Carolina, came to City Mission in October.  “I felt like a big failure when I first walked in the door here at the Mission, but now I know I was there for a reason.”  Creating a new life for yourself is never easy, but Matt is running after every opportunity to make a better life for himself.  “You really find peace at the Mission.  You don’t have to worry about anything.  You’re not chasing after stuff.  You don’t have a car or a house or anything, but you’re really happy.  You find inner happiness, and you can take that with you anywhere.  It’s a beautiful thing.”

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this year’s Pittsburgh Marathon has been canceled, but Matt has vowed to continue training.  “Oh, it’s a part of life now,” he said.  “I’m not going to stop running.  I’m going to stick with it!”

Both Matt and Wayne have decided to do the virtual race through www.pittsburghmarathon.com, which allows them to run the marathon on their own and record their results on the website.  They have also decided to use the opportunity to help raise support for the life-changing programs at City Mission.  Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, City Mission has had to close their Thrift Stores for retail shopping.  This is losing them approximately a third of the income they rely on to support their programming.  City Mission and the men, women, children and veterans who rely on the Mission – people just like Matt – need your help now more than ever.

You can support Matt and Wayne’s incredible effort and the work of City Mission at HERE.

April 14, 2020
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

Recent Articles

Staff Spotlight

Katie Mason, Event Coordinator
February 25, 2021

Katie Mason has been City Mission’s Event Coordinator since May of 2020, and she loves working for the Mission alongside wonderful people who work hard every day to help others and make the world a better place. “I love working with an incredible team, serving incredible people, and furthering an incredible mission,” she explained. Katie was born and raised in Peters Township, and her first experience with City Mission was volunteering with her Dad at the inaugural Sweet Sunday when she was a little girl. When she was young, she loved to study history, and her dream job was to be a historian or a professor or any job where she could learn more about history every day. In high school, she moved with her family to Big Timber, MT. She went to college at Montana State University in Bozeman, and for nearly 4 years, was the Director of Artistic Planning & Development Coordinator at the Helena Symphony, the “largest regional-professional orchestra in Montana.” Recently, she moved back to the area and was hired as the Event Coordinator at the Mission, where she has had the privilege of helming the 27th annual Sweet Sunday, the same event she attended with her dad as a child. “I love the tradition of Sweet Sunday,” Katie said of our largest annual fundraiser, with all proceeds helping to provide hope for the homeless. “I remember it as a kid, and it has evolved into a truly special community event that is about much more than buying chocolates, bidding on auction items, buying raffle tickets, and watching entertainment. It is about bringing our community together to help the homeless and the underserved.” This year’s Sweet Sunday event is the first one ever to go virtual. It has been an enormous undertaking to bring all the fun, tradition, and excitement of a beloved in-person event into an exclusively online setting. But Katie has been up to the challenge, and the event has already exceeded expectations thanks to the compassion and generosity of our community. On September 4, in Cedar Falls, IA, Katie will be getting married to Benjamin Bower! “I know it sounds cliché,” she said, “but I feel like the luckiest girl in the world!” A few months ago, Katie got sick and ended up in the ER. Ben took time off of work and drove all the way from his home in Maryland to take care of her for 4 days. She and Ben have already bought a house in Canonsburg and are looking forward to their big day! Thanks, Katie, for everything you do for the Mission!

Sweet Sunday at Home

Cupcakes at Sweet Sunday
February 4, 2021

City Mission’s Sweet Sunday at Home Dessert Festival presented by Realty One Group Gold Standard this year will mark the 27th year of the event and the first time it will be conducted virtually, with sweets delivered to your door on Sunday February 28th. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, it will look quite a bit different than it has in past years, but it will still have all the fun and excitement that you have come to know and love from Sweet Sunday. “Although Sweet Sunday will be very different this year, the need remains the same,” said City Mission President/CEO Dean Gartland. “This is a critical time of year because of the Pandemic and the need for hope is greater than ever.” “This year, we’re bringing Sweet Sunday to everyone’s homes,” explained City Mission Event Coordinator, Katie Mason. “It starts on February 15 and culminates on Sunday, February 28th with delivery to your door. You can start early to order your sweets boxes, bid on silent auctions, and buy raffle tickets for your favorite baskets, the Wreath of Wealth, and a custom dollhouse!” You can participate in the event online at: www.citymission.org/support/sweet-sunday. All sweets ordered between February 15 and February 27 will be delivered to your home on Sunday, February 28. Sweets ordered on the 28th will be delivered on Monday, March 1 along with auction prizes. You must live within a 30-mile radius of the Mission to have any sweets or items delivered to your home. All proceeds benefit City Mission’s life-changing programs. “For years, people have loved Sweet Sunday,” said Chief Development Officer Dr. Sally Mounts. “It’s a fun family event at a reasonable price point. We’re doing everything we can to transfer that fun spirit to a virtual/at-your-door delivery event. And it will be so easy to access. Just go to our website, click on the Sweet Sunday tab, and get connected to wonderful, delicious sweets and fun auctions.” The Mission will also host an exciting Facebook Live event on Sunday, February 28. “You’ll get front row seats to an exclusive concert by Scott Blasey of the Clarks,” Mason explained. “The sweets will also be delivered right to your door, along with a special surprise bag full of goodies, including your program, information on voting for your favorite sweets, kids’ activities, and gifts from our sponsors!” Creating an online event that captures the fun and excitement of Sweet Sunday was no easy task, and for Mason, who joined City Mission’s staff in May, this was her first time ever planning the Mission’s largest yearly fundraiser. But she remembers attending the very first Sweet Sunday with her Dad, who passed away 21 years ago. “They are some of my most cherished memories with him,” she said. “I am honored to be working alongside amazing people to create an event that encompasses the essence of Sweet Sunday while maintaining low-risk of spread during the pandemic.” “My favorite part of Sweet Sunday is the basket auctions,” said Mounts. “It’s always been so much fun to see the glittering baskets lined up, waiting for tickets. We’re having the same auction, only this year, it’s online. And I get two whole weeks to look at the pictures, read the descriptions, and decide what baskets to put my tickets in!” “This will certainly be a different Sweet Sunday than I’m used to,” added Gartland. “However, I’m really looking forward to connecting online with first-time Sweet Sunday supporters. And I’m really looking forward to sharing in all the joy and excitement of this year’s event.” Please go to www.citymission.org for more details about the event or contact Katie Mason at kmason@citymisison.org.

Scott Blasey to Perform at Sweet Sunday

Scott Blasey
January 13, 2021

City Mission will be hosting a live, virtual event on Sunday, February 28th as part of their 27th annual Sweet Sunday dessert festival and their very first ever Sweet Sunday at Home event, where the sweets are delivered to your door. Headlining the entertainment for this year's event will be none other than Scott Blasey of The Clarks.Scott Blasey is the lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist for Pittsburgh-based rock band the Clarks. Over their 34-year career the Clarks have performed all over the country, sold more than a million albums, toured with Steely Dan and John Mayer, and performed live on the Late Show with David Letterman, and the 2009 NHL WinterClassic. Their music has been featured in movies and television shows, including the 2015 season premiere of the Simpsons. In addition to his success with the band, Scott has found an audience as a solo artist. He’s released three solo albums and opened for rock icons Neil Young, and the Beach Boys. In 2004, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award for Service from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and just recently was inducted into the Connellsville Area High School Hall of Fame. Most importantly, Scott and his wife Denise are the proud parents of Sofia, Ava, and Gracelyn.The Blasey family has been supporting the City Mission for the last several years. Denise is originally from Washington, PA, and feels strongly about giving back to her community. Denise and Scott, like many others, have been impressed by the City Mission’s dedication to helping adults and families in need. They regularly perform at the City Mission on Thanksgiving, singing songs and helping to serve the residents. Scott and the kids also perform at SweetSunday every February. They’ve seen firsthand the difference the City Mission makes in the community, and are proud to give their time and energy to further their goals.

Fifth Annual Run for Homeless Veterans Goes Virtual

runner cross the finish line at the Mission Possible IV Run
July 14, 2020

For the fifth consecutive year, Northwood Charitable Foundation is hosting the Mission Possible 5K Run/1 Mile Walk, benefiting City Mission’s Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House. Due to COVID-19 and for the safety of all participants, volunteers, and staff, the event will be held virtually this year. Runners can register at www.missionpossiblerun.org between now and August 8. Then, they simply map out their own 5K or 1-mile route anywhere they want and run any time between August 1-15. Runners are asked to wear red, white, and blue and post photos on social media, tagging City Mission and using #missionpossiblerun. All proceeds from the race, with Northwood Charitable Foundation matching up to $10,000, support life-transformation for the 22 veterans who live at City Mission’s Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House. The house opened in 2018 to provide services and programs targeted specifically to meet the unique needs of homeless veterans. "In this trying and troubling time, we know two things,” said Jeff McCartney, a local realtor and member of City Mission’s Board of Directors who has chaired the Mission Possible event for the past five years. “One is that the homeless Veterans need our help more than ever. And second and most importantly, we know through spirit and truth that all things are possible in Christ Jesus. He is our rock and our Redeemer." Many of the residents of the Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House suffered a great deal before arriving at City Mission, but after entering the veterans’ program, many have been able to restore their hope and confidence. “City Mission gave me a sense of self-worth and put me back in touch with the Lord,” said Tim, an Air Force Veteran who came to City Mission after breaking his hip. “At the Crabtree House, we have confidence and self-respect. 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.”The US Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that over 40,000 veterans are homeless on any given night in the United States, and according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans are 50% more likely to be homeless than other Americans. “The Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House is a critical component to the healing process for our veteran population,” said Dean Gartland, President/CEO of City Mission. “Having our veterans living together and supporting one another is the best way for veterans to obtain lasting results.” Register at www.missionpossiblerun.org between now and August 8 to help homeless veterans.About City Mission: For over 75 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.