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!

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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.