Wednesday, August 22, 2012

little hands. BIG HEART.


Written by:  Lauren D. Lloyd, Guest Blogger

I am raising a three year old daughter, LPL, which is terrifying.  The world is a much scarier place than it used to be and as a result, young children regularly struggle with self-esteem issues.  With the hope of offsetting some of the challenges she’ll face in the modern world, I’m teaching her values that will help her to be a better, stronger person.  LPL is an only child, so I am particularly focused on helping her to understand the values of generosity and compassion.

Last Christmas, we bought gifts for a child in need.  LPL understood that we were helping someone else.  We talked about how the little girl’s mommy and daddy weren’t able to buy presents for her and that she might even be hungry.  That experience stuck with LPL.  It helped her grasp the concept of sharing with others without asking for anything in return.

When LPL’s birthday approached, she asked to have a party to celebrate with her friends.  She just wanted her friends to eat cake and sing happy birthday, but we knew that they would show up with presents.  Rather than say “no gifts” and have people still bring them, we asked LPL’s friends and family to bring food to the party so that she could make a donation to the local food pantry.  Her friends (and their parents) happily obliged.  The kids brought bags of canned goods and talked about helping others.  Because of their generosity, we were able to fill two large boxes and LPL dropped them off on the morning of her birthday.  She loved sharing her birthday experience with the EECM Food Pantry and plans to make a donation next year too!


Would you like to be EECM's next guest blogger?

Please e-mail Tim Brown, Community Relations Coordinator

    at timb@eecm.org .

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wishes? GRANTED!

Written by: Theresa Chalich,
FAITH Programs Supervisor and HUD Project Supervisor



On August 3rd, the historic Priory Hotel on the North Side was the site of the Homeless Children’s Education Fund’s Kick-off Breakfast and Partners Meeting.  Mini-grants were awarded to EECM's FAITH (Families Achieving Independence Through Housing) permanent supportive housing program and other area emergency shelters and  housing programs.  The theme of this breakfast meeting was educational enrichment programs for the children who reside in the shelters and housing programs.

The FAITH Program received a $2,000 grant to fund its Back to School Family Retreat and Monthly Life Skill Classes.  The day long retreat will take place at the Family Resources Family Retreat Center in Mars, PA.  The goals of this educational send off before the start of the school year retreat are to present educational programs that will be enhanced during the year with activities and Life Skills Classes and to promote parental engagement.  The retreat programs will feature presentations on Science on the Road by the Carnegie Science Center and a motivational speaker presenting about nutrition and wellness.  Then starting in September, there will be monthly events that will reinforce the learning areas of the retreat along with a general life skills curriculum.  The measurable outcomes are to be greater student and parent engagement at the learning events and a greater awareness of community resources.



The highlight of the Kick-Off Breakfast was that our FAITH Program was listed as one of five  programs (out of a total of 16 programs) that presented a Super Idea grant.  In addition to the educational opportunities that will be offered at the retreat and throughout the year, the Homeless Children’s Education Fund recognized the importance of the FAITH Housing  staff conducting pre-/post-programming surveys to determine learning achievements.

The breakfast was attended by FAITH Housing Program staff of Jamie Seabrook, the Child Education Advocate and the grant writer, Case Manager Hannah Lee, and Theresa Chalich, the Project Supervisor.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Where There is a 'Will', There is a Way

Written by: Will Templin, Guest Contributor

Hi, my name is Will. I am 12 years old, a student
at Pittsburgh Colfax and I like helping people.

Last year, I raised over $3,000 for victims of the tsunami in Japan and for a family in Tuscaloosa, Alabama who lost almost everything in the tornado that destroyed much of their town. After that, I realized there must be a need here in Pittsburgh. When I learned of East End Cooperative Ministry, I was surprised to see how many people were in need of help in my own neighborhood, so I started trying to figure out what I could do to make a difference. The things I have done are not big by themselves, but I believe if everyone does something, no matter how small, it can add up to something huge and make a difference.

In December, I contacted friends and asked them to donate new hats for EECM’s Men’s Homeless Shelter. We collected over 20 hats and some gloves.

In February, on Valentine’s Day, I purchased boxes of chocolate hearts to give to people who were coming to have lunch at EECM’s Soup Kitchen. I enjoyed seeing how happy people were to get candy. I also printed off a Bible scripture and taped it to the back.

Also in February, I gathered up a group of friends from school to cook dinner for guests at EECM’s Orr Compassionate Care Center. We served hotdogs, chili, and made ice cream sundaes for the men and women who were there while they recovered from a recent hospital stay before they went home.

In April, my mom took me to EECM’s Soup Kitchen for ‘Take Your Child to Work Day’. I purchased ice cream bars and gave them out with the Soup Kitchen lunch.  And just last month, I raised $120.60 by selling water and Oreo Cookies outside Mellon Park before the Bach, Beethoven and Brunch concert. It was a hot day and many people were happy to buy some ice cold water since the money was going to help people in the East End.

I am sorry that people here have a need,
but I am glad EECM is here to make it a little easier
for those who need help in our community.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

More Than A Box of Socks


Written by: Harris Lebovitz, Guest Contributor

My name is Harris Lebovitz. I am twelve years old, finishing the sixth grade and preparing for my Bar Mitzvah.  A Bar Mitzvah is when a thirteen year old Jewish boy becomes a man. All over the world Jewish boys work hard to learn Hebrew, read from the Torah and chant songs in front of many friends and family to earn the title of a true Jewish boy turning into a young man.

In addition to this huge event, I have decided to have a project involving SOCKS for the HOMELESS. One very big issue with homeless people is that very few have good socks or shoes.  Many homeless people will walk around a lot, resulting in worn out shoes and socks.  This can lead to bad things like cuts, infections, dirty feet, sickness, etc.

I am pleased to start off this project with the help of my grandparents’ friend John Spear.   I contacted a representative of K Bell Socks.  They donated over 200 pairs of socks to me for my project.  Those socks went directly to East End Cooperative Ministry. I went to talk to Rev. Kellie Wild, EECM Homeless Programs Director and Tracy Hudson, EECM Volunteer Coordinator.   I saw where some homeless people stayed. They can stay there for only 60 days per year.  I delivered the socks and learned that with the big need for socks, they would be gone in a few days from so many people needing them.  I am very proud to be a part of this and glad to be able to help people in need.

Please make donations at your place of worship.
The homeless can always use more socks.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Healing Powers of Birthday Cake

Written by: Tim Brown, Community Relations Coordinator

EECM's Safe Haven provides permanent supportive housing for homeless, mentally ill men and we are always looking for opportunities to celebrate life, fellowship and friendship. This is one of those opportunities.

Kurt* had been homeless for almost two years before moving into Safe Haven in 2011. In addition to his recent struggles with homelessness, he had also become blind in this recent portion of his life although he had normal vision for most of his adulthood. When he moved into the EECM's Safe Haven program last year, he often expressed his discouragement to celebrate during holidays. He felt that holidays were meant for celebrating with family and Kurt no longer stayed in contact with his family because he grew up in a hostile and abusive environment.

When the time came for Kurt's 45th birthday, Safe Haven took the opportunity to celebrate him. The staff and residents of Safe Haven invited Kurt to a celebration with cake and ice cream. They decorated balloons with puffy paint so he would be able to feel the pictures and notes that people had written for him. Kurt was joyful and talkative at the event.

Kurt explained, "This is the best birthday I have ever had. I have never had a birthday cake before in my life!" He excitedly thanked each person in the room for coming. Although holidays can be difficult times, he now has a new home and a new 'family' to celebrate with him.

Something that most of us would take for granted, like a birthday cake, brightened the day of Kurt as he shared his celebration and his cake with his new friends at Safe Haven. Everyone always says it is the little things that matter, but when it gets right down to it, it truly is the people in our lives that matter the most.

*Kurt's name was changed for this story.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

You Gotta Have FAITH

Written by: Theresa Chalich,
FAITH Programs Supervisor and HUD Project Supervisor

Over the winter, Deidre, a mother of a three year old, called the FAITH (Families Achieving Independence Through Housing) Program office to inquire about this housing program. She was staying in a homeless shelter for women who are fleeing a domestic violence situation. She was new to Pittsburgh as she, the father, and daughter returned to his hometown of Pittsburgh from their residence in Virginia.

The FAITH Program staff determined that she was eligible (homeless with a child, a mental health disability, and abstinence of alcohol and drugs for one year) for this HUD funded Supportive Housing Program. Deidre was desperate to leave the shelter, yet appreciated the safe environment that was being provided. The staff person’s first plan of action was to ensure that when mother and child left the shelter to inspect possible rental units that she did indeed feel safe and that her abuser did not know of her whereabouts.


Mom took the initiative to find an apartment to her liking. She signed the rental lease and a contract was signed between her, the realtor (landlady), and the staff person. Deidre moved into an apartment and with the assistance of the program, which provided her with beds, dining room table and chairs, sofa, curtains, and a sundry of household items. She converted an empty “apartment” into a comfortable “home”. Besides the help from the program, she, like many of the FAITH Program participants, are industrious in finding used and utilitarian furniture.

Deidre settled into the neighborhood and established the transfer of her mental health care to a facility in her neighborhood. This easy access to care was a boon to her child care needs. Once she had moved in, she inquired about studying for and obtaining her GED. She highlighted the importance of this goal as “I have to be a role model for my daughter so that she will get an education as she grows.” An appointment is scheduled for her to start this GED process. When staff recommended that an agency come to the home to evaluate the daughter’s developmental growth, she readily agreed and was grateful to have this done.
The FAITH Program was given a wonderful present when it recently received a phone call from Deidre. She expressed her gratitude to the staff for giving her the opportunity to show that “I can be an independent woman and live on my own.” This month she will be entering a health care program so that “I can really feel good about myself”. “I can’t thank you guys enough.”

*The pictures above are from a Thank You card that Deidre sent to EECM.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Sign In The Rearview Mirror

Written by: Kayla Berkey, EECM Case Manager

When Mike* came to Pittsburgh several months ago, he had a long history of homelessness and an untreated mental illness. He had worked as a chef at many restaurants, but Mike’s unstable mental health made it difficult for him to keep a steady job. He began staying at the
East End Cooperative Ministry Men's Emergency Shelter, and during the day, he stood along the street with a sign asking for help. “It was something to do during the day when I had no place to go,” Mike says. He also found used this as a way to support himself when he had no income or resources of his own.

By working with the EECM case managers, Mike was able to move into the EECM
Safe Haven program where he now has a permanent apartment and staff to assist him with health care needs, maintaining his housing, and setting goals for himself. He also has his own kitchen where he can cook. With his chef experience, Mike explains that cooking helps him cope with his stress. The community environment at Safe Haven also provides the opportunity for him to cook together with other residents.

Now that Mike has an apartment of his own, he has hung up his panhandling sign…literally. The sign meant a lot to Mike because of all that it brought him through, and so staff helped him frame it and display it in his room. “It helps me to remember where I’ve been and where I don’t want to go again. Now I have a place to stay during night and day. I have my own peace and quiet, and it feels like home.”

To all those who helped him, Mike wishes to express his appreciation:
“Thanks for looking out for me and God bless.”

*Mike's name was changed for this story.
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