Operation Safety Net shelter will be open nightly thru mid-March
November 20, 2018
Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net® has announced a new, temporary location and the hours of operation for the winter shelter for persons who are experiencing homelessness.
The new location, Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship and Veteran’s Home, 13 Pride Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 (Uptown), will serve men and women. The winter shelter will be open every night from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. through Friday, March 15, 2019, including weekends and holidays and regardless of temperature. As in years past, additional nights in March may be added, if conditions warrant.
Last winter, between November 15, 2017 and March 31, 2018, the winter shelter opened 120 nights and assisted 904 unduplicated individuals, including 723 men and 181 women. The shelter served an average of 119 individuals a night.
Winter shelter services include a warm, dry place to sleep; a hot meal served nightly; access to showers and laundry facilities; basic health care with options to begin primary care; homelessness diversion and housing-ready services, for persons who are experiencing chronic homelessness; benefits and service coordination; care management services; veterans services; winter clothing; and information and referrals to essential human services.
The winter shelter works in collaboration with the Allegheny Link, http://alleghenycounty.us/Human-Services/About/Contact/Allegheny-Link.aspx, which connects people in need to available resources in Allegheny County, including housing, as well as to other agencies and providers in the county.
“The individuals who come to the Winter Shelter for services are often those who are the most in need of services,” said Brian Matous, homeless services supervisor at Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net, Pittsburgh Mercy’s innovative, award-winning outreach program to persons who are experiencing homelessness. “In fact, many of the individuals we serve at the winter shelter have multiple, complex needs.”
Besides being a place for persons experiencing homelessness to get out of harsh winter elements, the main goal, Mr. Matous said, is to get a more complete understanding of why the individual is struggling with homelessness.
“If we learn that someone is coming to us because they do not have power, heat, or water, then we’d rather divert someone from entering homelessness,” he said. “We’re a judgment-free service that focuses mainly on helping individuals grow out of their struggles with homelessness.”
Being homeless, Mr. Matous added, is not necessarily an indication that the individual lacks the financial resources to be housed. Rather, “homelessness a complex state of being that usually only happens when several support systems and personal health factors have broken down.”
“We want the winter shelter to be the place that someone can take that first step of becoming their better, and eventually, their best selves,” he added.
Winter shelter meals will be coordinated by the Northside Homeless Alliance. Volunteers are needed to prepare hearty, nutritious meals for up to 150 individuals.
For more information, interested volunteers may contact Charles Chapman, chairman and executive director of L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry, at email@example.com or 412-302-1678.
Organizations, corporations, and individuals who do not have the capacity to prepare meals but would like to contribute toward the cost – or to cover the cost – of purchasing a balanced, hot meal for up to 150 individuals are encouraged to consider making a monetary donation. Donations may be made via Pittsburgh Mercy’s website, http://www.pittsburghmercy.org, or mailed to Pittsburgh Mercy’s Development Office, 9983 Perry Highway, Suite 208, Wexford, PA 15090-9297. Note the Development Office’s new address. Do not mail cash.
Checks can be made payable to “Pittsburgh Mercy,” note “Winter Shelter” in the memo blank. Those interested in making monetary donations offline may also contact Connie Murray, director of Development at Pittsburgh Mercy, at CMurray@pittsburghmercy.org or 724-934-3537.
In-kind donations of new hats, scarves, gloves, socks, boots, winter coats, toiletries, and personal hygiene items for distribution to participants at the winter shelter are also appreciated. The winter shelter accepts in-kind donations by appointment.
To schedule an appointment, email Operationsafetynet@pittsburghmercy.org or call 412-232-5739, ext. 2. If emailing, note “Winter Shelter In-Kind Donation” in the subject line. Messages are usually returned within two business days.
Those who would like to volunteer their time or offer services at the Winter Shelter, should contact Genevieve Gigandet at GGigandet@pittsburghmercy.org or 412-232-5739, ext. 4.
Funding for the Winter Shelter is made possible by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net, and an Allegheny County Economic Development Emergency Solutions Grant.