Help, hope, healing is ministry's dream
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When an impoverished, severely depressed woman came for help to Psalm 119 Ministries in Beechview, she said her dream was to land a job feeding people, as in a soup kitchen.
For the next two years, the woman underwent weekly counseling at the site for her depression, and was referred to a psychiatrist for treatment, including medication. She maintained a low-paying job while living in the off-site transitional housing the faith-based, non-profit organization provides for clients.
Today, the woman is employed outside Pennsylvania in a successful position in her chosen field.
"She received help, hope, and healing," said Psalm 119 founder and Executive Director Doreen Weiss, echoing her own dream-come-true: offering help, hope, and healing to women who are spiritually, emotionally, and/or physically at risk.
Counseling is the main focus, said Mrs. Weiss, 57, of Dormont, who has a master's degree in community counseling from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
A recent $5,000 grant from the Avon Corporation will help offset counseling fees for domestic violence clients.
Located on two floors at 1535 Broadway Ave. in former dentistry offices, the largely volunteer Psalm 119 Ministries is named for the longest chapter in the Bible.
"Its theme is to follow God's ways. When we stray, there are consequences," said Mrs. Weiss, who is employed as a counselor for Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute out of the Allegheny Center Alliance Church office on the North Side.
"A lot of Christian women are concerned if, biblically, they have a right to leave a marriage as Scripture says God hates divorce.
"But when you look at the characteristics of Christ and God's love, he would never want a woman to stay and be beaten in a relationship," she said.
Psalm 119 welcomes clients of any, or no, denomination.
Its operations are overseen by a six-member board whose president is Sherry Hazuda, 59, of Beechview.
"For all the gifts I'm been given by God, this is a chance to give back a small portion," said the Pittsburgh Public Schools board member.
In addition to counseling, the facility is home to a weekly support group and food pantry, with the latter based on need and situation following an assessment.
There are plans to open an on-site resale shop and clothing ministry in the spring. Psalm 119 also functions as a resource center.
Pregnant women are referred to Christian-based Pregnancy Resource Center of the South Hills, in Upper St. Clair, or Genesis of Pittsburgh, in Bellevue, which is "life-affirming" according to its mission statement.
Domestic violence victims who outnumber Psalm 119's limited housing accommodations are sent to the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, in Oakland.
As a child and teen, Mrs. Weiss was sexually victimized, and at the age of 20 she became pregnant.
"I went to a quiet church alone because I didn't know where else to go. ... And instead of being the end of my life, it was the beginning of my life," she said.
She opted for adoption, began attending church more often, and started reading Scriptures. Eventually marrying and raising a family, she graduated in 2001 from Geneva College with a community ministry degree.
Her goal, she said at the time was "to open a place where I can teach young women about God's word who made mistakes or were victimized, and help them make wise, godly decisions."
A year later, she founded Psalm 119 Ministries.
Its biggest reward?
"I'm seeing the fruits of help, hope, and healing in the lives of women," she said.
Call 412-531-4863 to join the support group, make a donation, or undergo an assessment for the food pantry. Contact the ministry via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Published January 7, 2010 12:00 am