Gift helps City Mission in Washington provide shelter

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Last summer's severe storms damaged City Mission's roof and left the section above the kitchen, dining area, offices, chapel and meeting rooms beyond repair. Estimates pegged the roof reconstruction on one of the largest, private, nonprofit homeless shelter in southwestern Pennsylvania at between $60,000 and $70,000.

Thanks to a $25,000 contribution by Columbia Pipeline Group on Aug. 21, City Mission in Washington, Pa., is on its way to getting a new roof over the heads of the homeless men, women and children it serves.

"We're housed in a building constructed in the 1890s and patched the roof over through the years," said David Misra, director of development. "Putting on a new roof was long overdue."

Founded in 1941 by local minister Burt McCausland at a time when Washington was still recovering from the effects of the Depression and had a large homeless population, City Mission provides food, clothing, shelter, medical attention and rehabilitation services to the poor.

The mission also has a free medical clinic that serves not only the homeless but also impoverished people living in the Washington area.

Between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, City Mission provided 77,569 meals, 30,646 nights of shelter, 4,952 medical interventions, 6,663 clothing items, 1,749 bags of food, 5,492 furniture/household items and 260 services in its chapel.

"Our dormitories with a total of 98 beds, 56 for the men, 42 for the women and children, have been at 100 percent capacity for over a year," Mr. Misra said. "In the winter, we provide emergency shelter by setting up beds in our chapel."

City Mission's current annual budget is $4.2 million, and the nonprofit employs 73 people -- caseworkers, counselors, medical personnel, administrative staff and workers in its kitchen, shelter, six thrift stores, and donation and recycling center.

The mission is funded mostly by private donors and income generated at the thrift stores and recycling center. Washington County United Way donates approximately $40,000 for mission operations. Government funding is minimal, although the mission has kick-started a capital campaign by applying for both state and federal grant money for construction costs.

"We also receive some income from foundations and corporations, including Columbia Pipeline, our biggest corporate donor," Mr. Misra said.

"City Mission of Washington is a wonderful organization that provides a tremendous service to the community," said Jimmy Staton, CEO of Columbia Pipeline Group. "We have a long tradition of being a good neighbor, and we know by partnering with City Mission to provide assistance for this project we are impacting people's lives in a positive way."

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Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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