Snow can be a beautiful sight at Christmas unless you’re homeless, hungry or alone in Pittsburgh.
The Catholic Charities Diocese of Pittsburgh knows firsthand that many people suffer from a lack of shelter, food and companionship. The absence of these necessities in the winter is critical, even deadly.
Marion Ahlers, director of marketing and communications for the Catholic organization, said the heartbreaking cases they see are usually the result of a deeper problem.
“Often we’re called to fulfill urgent need — a lack of food or shelter, for example. These presenting needs, however, are usually indicators of much larger challenges — a lack of a strong social or family network, insufficient income, poor emotional or physical health,” Ahlers explained.
Catholic Charities’ mission to “serve our communities’ critical needs with compassion, healing and hope" led them to open The Warming Station in downtown Pittsburgh in 2014. The main goal was to give those in need a place to go on the coldest winter days.
“Catholic Charities believes all people have the right to safe shelter, especially from the winter elements that can so easily kill,” Ahlers said. “Our winter Warming Station provides daytime shelter, food and companionship to those who have nowhere else to go.”
The homeless who arrive at The Warming Station are given an escape from the cold and three meals a day. In addition, the organization also provides entertaining and stimulating activities with the resources they have.
The diocese seeks out willing companies to make product donations that will enhance their mission. Totally Promotional recently donated 200 journals for the guests at The Warming Station.
Ahlers said the journals can be a valuable tool in the healing process.
“We are offering the journals to guests visiting our winter Warming Station in hopes they will enjoy the opportunity to process their emotions, concerns and hopes,” Ahlers said. “We know that the mere act of writing has tremendous power to bring clarity and establish next steps to tackle challenges.”
Unfortunately, the needs of the homeless and others continues to escalate, Ahlers added.
“During the 2020-2021 winter season, in the midst of the global pandemic, we saw the need to support our constituents rise, serving over 2,300 unique individuals throughout this time,” Ahlers said. “We expect to see a comparable number of visitors this year, and strive to serve those individuals with dignity and care.”