Community Archives | Sojourner House

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“Words without Walls” collaboration with Chatham University

Since 2012, MFA program candidates from Chatham University have consistently visited Sojourner House residents every Thursday during Fall and Spring semesters.  The purpose: to help our women use the written word to help them cope with their respective journeys to recovery. This past semester of the Words Without Walls writing program proved to be another semester for our residents to bring self-awareness, vulnerability and talent, not to mention compassion for each other in an open-hearted environment. Resident Kari Childs graciously shared the work to be published not only in the booklet published at the end of each semester, but also on Sojourner House’s blog:

“A Stand”

Look at her she chose
to just leave. She preferred
to be with a man
that beats her. Shame
& Guilt consume her
not even heroin from
that deadly disease-infested
needle could kill her.
She takes a stand, fights
back & comes back with
all her prayers living free
of that devilish life. Stand
up you’re worth the fight.

Resident, Kari Childs

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Sojourner House Among Proud Participants of “Hopeful Responses to Addiction” Community Forum

Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania and the Center for Loving Kindness and Civic Engagement at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh hosted a community forum on Nov. 19 called “Hopeful Responses to Addiction,” geared toward addressing issues related to addiction in the Pittsburgh region. The event took place at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill.

Approximately 50 guests listened to speakers representing a mixture of faith leaders from various local religious organizations, community experts on issues related to addiction, and first-person experts on the subject matter. The forum consisted of three main segments: defining addiction; the impact of addiction; and how to respond as a community.

Two of the event’s speakers were people with connections to Sojourner House. Recent Sojourner House graduate Shannon McNeil shared her first-hand account of recovery from addiction. Sojourner House’s founding Executive Director Dana Gold shared first-hand experiences as well. Other speakers included representatives from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Allegheny County Health Department, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg, the Aleph Institute, and the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

“The least we can do is treat everyone who is suffering from the disease of addiction with love and try to educate society on this awful disease,” said Meghan Briggs, Director of Clinical Services at Sojourner House.

The goal of the event was to make it more than just a lecture series. After each portion of the event, breakout groups and round-table discussions took place, to allow people to discuss the meaning and application of what they had just heard.

Also, the event invited local agencies  who are doing work related to addiction — including Sojourner House — to host informational tables and to educate guests about how their agencies make a difference in the community.

“I hope this is a partnership that is going to continue into the future,” said Reverend Liddy Barlow, Executive Minister at the Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania, of her collaboration with Sojourner House. “It’s necessary for our houses of worship to pay attention to the world around us, and we’re called specifically to love our neighbors. Sojourner House and similar orgs can help us see a way to do this wisely and well.”

The November event was the latest in a series of similar events organized by CASP and The Center for Loving Kindness and Civic Engagement, starting in the wake of demonstrations in Charlottesville in 2016. The three-pronged purpose of the series is to bring together people guided by hope, compassion, and good will; to encourage them to stand together in the public sphere; and to help oppose hate in our neighborhoods and communities.

Shannon McNeil, Sojourner House MOMS resident and speaker at the “Hopeful Responses to Addiction” community forum


Dana Gold, founding Sojourner House Executive Director and speaker at “Hopeful Responses to Addiction” community forum

 

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Maelene Myers to be 2019 Pearl of Hope Recipient

Maelene Myers, 2019 pearl of hope recipient

For someone who doesn’t like to be in the spotlight, Maelene Myers has been nothing short of a lighthouse in the East End community for more than two decades.  And for Sojourner House MOMS, Myers has played a pivotal decision-making role forming and developing Sojourner House MOMS since it opened in 2004. As a matter of fact, Myers, who is Executive Director of East Liberty Development, Inc. has sat at the helm of the Sojourner House MOMS board as its president for a decade.  She plans to step down from that role after next week’s MOMS board meeting adjourns.

When asked why she has taken on Sojourner House MOMS as a decades-long project she holds close to her heart, Highland Park resident Myers said the following:

“Providing safe and stable housing is very important during recovery. The fact that this is permanent housing, which creates even more stability, allows the family to heal on their timeline and not with those restrictions set by other programs, due to short-term funding criteria,” said Myers.

Myers, a Cleveland native, has worked at ELDI for 22 years, and her stellar reputation often proceeds her, as an article commemorating her time at ELDI exhibits. (https://www.eastliberty.org/maelene-myers-celebrates-20-years-with-eldi/)  Accolade after accolade for her many projects – from low-profile to very high-profile —  to improve Sojourner House MOMS, East Liberty and the surrounding areas made choosing Myers as Sojourner House’s 2019 Pearl of Hope recipient an easy decision to make.

“Maelene Myers has been a vital instrument in creating and sustaining Sojourner House MOMS, a program that provides housing and services to families in recovery.  Without her commitment and gifts of her time, 42 families would not have the beautiful apartments that we call “MOMS” – Motivation, Opportunity, Mentoring and Spirituality,” said Sojourner House Executive Director Joann Cyganovich. “She has served for many years and our community is so grateful for the lives she has changed. The opportunity to succeed has been provided for future generations to come through her work.”

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25th Annual Strawberry Festival

Shadyside Presbyterian Church’s 25th annual Strawberry Festival, which took place on June 8 on the lawn of the church, was once again an evening full of great fun and great camaraderie. Proceeds from the event have benefited Sojourner House for the past eight years. Read all about the festival in the Summer 2018 of issue of Shady Ave magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thank you, 14th Annual Victorian Tea Supporters!

At Sojourner House’s signature fundraiser, the 14th Annual Victorian Tea, 350 guests attended the on Sunday, April 15, 2018, raising over $60,000.  The event was chaired by Nancy Davis, Sojourner House board member.  Special thanks to honorary chair, Karin Mayr, Founder and CEO of Sabika Jewelry.  This year’s Pearl of Hope recipient was Lynne Chadwick, CAO and Director of Risk & Compliance at BNY Mellon, and long-time Sojourner House supporter.  Shannon Perrine, reporter for WTAE-TV’s Action News, was the event emcee.

The event featured a silent auction, basket raffle, and program that included a poetry reading from a Sojourner House graduate, and a live musical performance from Eric Granata and Nina Sainato.  The program also included a proclamation from the City of Pittsburgh presented by Henry Horn-Pyatt on behalf of the Office of Mayor William Peduto.  Guests were among a unique audience to view the debut of a new video, “Words Without Walls Poetry Reading“.  Post Script Productions, LLC, a silver sponsor of the Tea, filmed and produced the video.

Below are a few photos from the event, please check out our Facebook page for more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Words Without Walls Poetry Reading Video

Please check out our new video!   This video had its debut at the 14th Annual Victorian Tea.

Sojourner House opened its doors to Chatham University’s Words Without Walls program in 2012.  During Words Without Walls, MFA students visit Sojourner House each week to teach creative writing.  At the end of each semester, our residents present their work to the public during readings at local art galleries.  Please watch the video to hear excerpts from the most recent Words Without Walls poetry reading.

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You’re Invited! 14th Annual Victorian Tea Tickets Available Now!

Tickets are now on sale for Sojourner House’s 14th Annual Victorian Tea! (Please note the early-bird ticket special offer!)  Please help us celebrate the successes of our families and to support us as we continue our fight to keep families together so they can become healthy, productive citizens of our community.

Please click here to purchase tickets

We look forward to seeing you in April!

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Sabika founder/CEO Karin Mayr named Victorian Tea honorary chair; long-time supporter Lynne Chadwick named Pearl of Hope recipient

Sojourner House’s 14th Annual Victorian Tea – to take place Sunday, April 15, 2018, 2-4 p.m., at Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall at the Priory – promises to be a very special afternoon, thanks to supporters of Sojourner House, new and old alike.

14th Annual Victorian Tea Save the Date

Karin Mayr, founder and CEO of nationally renowned company Sabika Jewelry which is based in Pittsburgh, will be this year’s honorary chair.

Karin’s story is an inspirational one. She started Sabika from her kitchen table, in Pittsburgh, during a time of financial need for her family. She was determined to build a company that connects women from all walks of life. She focused on creating beautiful, artisan-made jewelry rooted in her 20 year experience as a successful trend forecaster. She has since offered an entrepreneurial opportunity to thousands and has seen Sabika transform lives. Today, Sabika is sold by independent Sabika Consultants, both women and men, through Sabika Parties across the U.S. and helps bring out the individual beauty of those who wear it.

“I want to support Sojourner House, because helping children is an essential part of their program. I have always been an advocate for children,” said Karin. “At Sojourner House, you give these children and families hope and structure when they need it most.”

Long-time Sojourner House supporter Lynne Chadwick will receive the 2018 Pearl of Hope Award.

Lynne, who is CAO, Director of  BNY Mellon Risk & Compliance,  has dedicated significant time and energy to Sojourner House for nearly a decade. She served on the board for two terms, taking on such roles as board president and governance committee chair. She also served on the tea planning committee for eight years, including serving as tea chair in 2010. In addition, Lynne has hosted multiple meetings and fundraisers to attract contributions for Sojourner House.

“Having Lynne Chadwick as a supporter of Sojourner House has been a true blessing and a godsend, She has offered so much on so many levels to help Sojourner House grow into the successful organization it is today. She is most deserving of this recognition,” said executive director Joann Cyganovich.

PLEASE NOTE: The 1-2 p.m. social hour will include a meet-and-greet with our honorary chair.  Tickets will be available for purchase, starting on Jan. 15.  For more information about the event, please email sorr@sjhpa.org.  To learn more about Sojourner House and to view photos from the Victorian Tea from previous years, please visit our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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“Inside Out: Mothers Who Have Survived Overdose” Panel Discussion

Sojourner House is teaming up with POWER and Women’s Press Club to present “Inside Out: Mothers Who Have Survived Overdose,” Thursday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m., at East End Cooperative Ministry, 6140 Station St., East Liberty.

The evening will include a candid panel discussion about the opiate epidemic that is overtaking our nation and its effects locally, especially on women and their children.  Please check out the Facebook event page for more information.

 

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Carnegie Mellon University’s 1000plus Day of Service

Several students from Carnegie Mellon University volunteered at Sojourner House during CMU’s annual 1000Plus Day of Service, on Saturday, October 7, 2017. During the event, the volunteers performed yard work and cleaned the property surrounding Sojourner House’s East Liberty residence. Lending a helping hand were Interim CMU president, Farnam Jahanian, and Jim Rohr, Chairman of the Board.

1000plus is a collective of 1,000 Carnegie Mellon University students, faculty, staff, and alumni who join forces each year to provide a variety of community service projects at organizations throughout the Pittsburgh area … all with the goal of creating a positive impact. Sojourner House, along with multiple other organizations, was one of the recipients of these services this year.

CMU Interim President Farnam Jahanian, Provost Laurie Weingart, the Dean’s of each college, and Jim Rohr, the Chairman of CMU’s Board of Trustees, participate in 1000 Plus Days of Service, including appearances at Light of Life, Sojourner House and Arsenal Family & Children’s Center, on October 7, 2017.

 

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