In Pittsburgh Neighborhood, Development Starts With Healing

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 10.20.18 AM

FOCUS Pittsburgh began a conversation about community trauma about five years ago, according to Director Rev. Paul Abernathy.

“We really began to ask are we healthy enough to sustain opportunity. People get jobs, they lose jobs; they get housing and lose housing,” Abernathy remembers. “It was really an incredible moment because what had happened, people had shared such incredibly raw stories, it essentially de-stigmatized the issue,” he says.

Click HERE to read the Next City article about the Trauma-Informed Community Development Initiative.

Back To School the Right Way

Everyone knows the building anticipation as the kids get ready to go back to school. There’s excitement and nerves, eagerness to start a new year, sadness that summer is ending. Unfortunately, counting down the days to a new school year is yet another reminder of struggle for many kids across the country. Imagine how excitement would turn to trepidation if going back to school meant a supply list filled with items that mom and dad couldn’t afford, sneakers from last year that don’t quite fit, and hand-me-down clothes from older sibling that leave you feeling less than confident.

It’s hard to for struggling families to prepare for a successful school year when they are in the midst of crisis. Wherever homeless families end up staying, if it’s not a permanent, sustainable home, the children suffer incredibly from constant displacement and insecurity. If parents can’t afford a place to live, how will they equip their children with the supplies necessary to attend school?

image1FOCUS North America’s Back to School program involves parishes across the country in providing high quality backpacks, school supplies, and clothing to children when it is time to return to school. FOCUS works closely with school workers in every community to ensure that donated items are given to the kids who are experiencing homelessness, living in hotels, or doubled up with friends or family.

A study by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty found that there is no jurisdiction in the United States where a working family of four, earning the poverty threshold wage of $24,000, can afford even a one-bedroom home at fair market rates. This means that there are struggling families in your town. Even if the poverty is not always visible, it is always present.

FOCUS needs you to help meet these basic needs, and take the stress off of many hardworking families that are already stretched thin. Help us give kids everything they need to get back to school and succeed in acquiring an education.

FOCUS will send participating parishes high quality backpacks with a packing list of items to fill them with. Filled backpacks will be collected at the parish. Through our school district partnerships, FOCUS will ensure the backpacks and supplies are given to the kids with the greatest need in your own city.

If you know your parish, SOYO, church school, women’s group, or other group would love an opportunity to bring FOCUS’ Back To School program to your town, contact us today! This is a great opportunity for groups that regularly work with FOCUS, as well as new communities who may be just figuring out the best way to serve.

Redevelopment effort in Hill District targets effects of long-term trauma – FOCUS Pittsburgh in The Post-Gazette

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 10.16.03 AM“Trauma-Informed Community Development grew out of research that found underlying causes of violence, homelessness, joblessness, poverty, addiction and abuse in exposure to chronic emotional stress and trauma. The premise is that if people can get help digging out from trauma and start to heal, they can get their own traction to improve their relationships, the well-being of their block and what happens on it, Rev. Abernathy said.

“Trauma is the most challenging problem we have” in the African-American community, he said. “We are seeing people get jobs and lose jobs, get housing and lose housing, not because they are stupid or bad but because they are wounded. We want them to be healthy enough to sustain opportunities.””

Click HERE to read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article from this past Sunday about the Trauma-Informed Community Development Initiative.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 9.35.53 AM

FOCUS Backpack Program on OCN

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 2.26.26 PMIMG_0283

Helping kids go back to school on the right foot

Imagine how excitement could turn to trepidation if going back to school meant a supply list filled with items that a family might not be able to afford. Your parish can sponsor backpacks for children in your community!

How does it work?

FOCUS will send you as many brand-new backpacks as your parish can commit to sponsoring. Parish families will take the backpacks home and fill them with supplies on a packing list included in the backpack. Also included in the backpack is a $10 donation envelope to FOCUS to cover the cost of the backpack.

Once filled, parishioners return the packs to church and the coordinator delivers them to a local FOCUS partner that works with children in need.

E-mail JavaScript required to view address to get your parish involved this August!

We hope to work with you and your local schools this fall!

2016 Summer Feeding has begun! Join us today!

This summer, through our Summer Feeding Program, FOCUS will serve 46,000 meals in eight cities across seven states. And this is just the beginning. We hope to expand this program each year to new cities and sites using our core methodology of providing high quality, nutritious meals to children when they need it the most. Of course, we can’t do this without your help.

Sign up to serve in the following cities:

Columbus
Washington, D.C
Fairfax County
Detroit
Southern California 
Phoenix
Pittsburgh