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The Washington City Mission exists to share Christ, to shelter, to heal and to restore the homeless to independent living without discrimination.
Fully rehabilitating the body, mind, and spirit requires long-term shelter and comprehensive support. To reach and affect the causes of homelessness, the Mission also provides these crucial services: job training and life-skills classes to prepare Mission residents for their return to the workplace and independent living; social service referrals and transportation assistance; professional and supportive counseling for addiction, mental health, and spiritual restoration. Each resident is expected to also be productive at the Mission in one of the following areas: housekeeping, thrift store, donation center, or kitchen support. Free health care is provided in the Arbuckle Medical Clinic for those without insurance.
We meet the daily challenges of hunger and poor nutrition in the Mission's kitchen, pantry, and food-share programs. Yearly, we serve approximately over 133,000 nourishing meals to residents and low-income, walk-in guests, many of whom are among the hundreds of seniors, disabled people, and families who receive free household groceries. Both kitchen and pantry groceries supplement their needs so the population we service can afford costly housing and medicine--and remain independent. And giving freely as we have freely received, the Mission also redistributes surplus food to other charitable agencies throughout surrounding counties, including the Mon Valley Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, and Mel Blount Youth Home.
Every night, men, women, and children have a safe home in our Men's Shelter and Avis Arbor Women and Children's Shelter; last year, 656 different people resided there for an average of six months. During the winter, even the chapel becomes an overflow shelter. We have learned that the longer a resident actively participates in the Mission's programs, the more likely he or she will remain independent in the future. People who become homeless while employed may enter the Mission's 30-Days plus program to regroup, save money, and find new housing without having to endure the additional stress of being homeless. Residents in the Next Step program work outside the Mission and continue residing there to save money and prepare for independent living. Of the men and women who complete the Mission's rehabilitation shelter programs, 65% secure independent living accommodations.
Staff members, volunteers, residents--we work together to sustain the Mission, serving community and one another. Residents participate in recovery counseling and Talent Development, our job-training program. As caring workplaces and real businesses, the Mission's kitchen, donation center, and shelters also help residents to learn and develop marketable job skills, personal management, and a strong work ethic. Many find service positions in retail stores, restaurants, and home-service businesses; a few have become warehouse managers, assistants and chefs in elegant restaurants, and the drivers and owners of trucking companies. Living with responsibility and support at the Mission, residents regain confidence, self-worth, and the opportunity to re-enter the competitive economy as reliable employees.
Simply put, the Mission's residents can and do become productive employees and strong neighbors--many have returned to the Mission as gainfully employed volunteers. Work skills learned and refined in the Work Readiness and Vocational Trades programs frequently lead to better-paying jobs in the expanding service sectors of our local and national economy. Better-paying jobs with benefits and opportunity for advancement (even ownership) make housing attainable, financial security possible--and independent living real.
Residents become housemates and co-workers, staff members remain friends and mentors, and volunteers are always benefactors and neighbors. All are welcome at the Washington City Mission. Together, we follow the simple, universal messages found throughout the Bible: love God with all your heart, love your neighbor as yourself, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
A small fleet of moving vans receives donations from community homes and businesses and delivers them to the warehouse and our four Hidden Treasure stores. People visiting or entering the Mission may request needed household items and clothing--even suits and dresses/attire appropriate for church services and job interviews. Residents departing for independent housing may choose furniture for the new residence, and the Mission's moving vans will help them make the move. In times of crisis, recovery, and success, the Mission is here to serve.
- Cortney Brock
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