The City Mission
Cleveland .ORG is So Much More than Shelter
So Much More than Shelter: Cleveland .ORG is on a Life-Changing Mission
A mom and her children are parked under a bridge in Cleveland. They have lost their home and are living in the car, using gas station bathrooms—when they can—to clean themselves up. The mom is terribly discouraged and despondent. How has she gotten to this point? What hope is there for her? She contemplates taking her own life and the lives of her children.
This is a true story, and it could easily have had a tragic ending. Fortunately, it had a happy one instead thanks to The City Mission. “A Cleveland police officer saw the car, spoke to the mom, learned her story and her desperation, and directed her to Laura’s Home, our facility for women and children,” says The City Mission’s CEO Richard Trickel. “She participated in our program and did wonderfully. She was able to get secure employment and is now housed in stable housing with her family.”
This family’s circumstance—and their trajectory from homelessness to a safe, stable, more fulfilling life—is something The City Mission feels blessed to see all the time. “It’s not at all uncommon for me to be in the community and for someone to approach me and tell me their lives were impacted by The City Mission,” Trickel says. “We have staff members who came to us as clients. They are now on a completely different life course.”
Founded in 1910, The City Mission is a Christian organization, and faith is an important part of their work. While they offer spiritual teaching in the Christian tradition, they serve a non-denominational population “of all stripes,” says Trickel. “There are no barriers to coming into the program.” The City Mission houses and feeds somewhere up to 250 men, women, and children at a time, most of whom come to the mission homeless. They provide job and life skills training, as well as mental health and addiction counseling. Most clients participate in a nine to twelve-month program designed to help them get on their feet and live independent, secure, and healthy lives.
“Many of our men, women and kids have serious mental health issues. We address this through strategic community partnerships, connecting them to resources and services, and bringing those services directly to our clients,” Trickel says. During the COVID-19 crisis, The City Mission, like many organizations, has had to make some of their services virtual. Still, their clients are able to meet with licensed therapists over video conferencing platforms and get the help they need. In addition to switching to video sessions, Trickel says The City Mission has had to make changes with the CDC’s help to ensure the safety of their clients, staff, and volunteers. They immediately responded by implementing stringent cleaning procedures, adding plexiglass barriers, wearing and providing masks, and staggering mealtimes. Because of these measures, Trickel is proud to report there have not been outbreaks at their facilities.
In addition to Laura’s Home, and the men’s facility, Crossroads, The City Mission offers the New Horizons Program, which purchases foreclosed properties and renovates them with community partners, preparing the houses for occupancy by families residing at Laura’s Home. At the same time, says Trickel, “We are also preparing the family to occupy that home, by preparing mom for employment and running a home. Once, the family is adjusted and secure, the title is transferred. They are now homeowners.”
Seventy-five percent of The City Mission’s funding comes from individuals. They receive no federal, state, or local monies. Supporters can learn about volunteering and donating to The City Mission on their website, www.thecitymission.org. The City Mission embraces being a .ORG, says Joshua Foote, Director of Marketing and Communications, because, “[f]or The City Mission, being a .ORG means trust. As a 110-year-old nonprofit, we’ve earned trust and support in our community for several generations. Being a .ORG is bridging that trust to the current generation and beyond by immediately associating us with a community of similar organizations and distinguishing us from for-profit entities. Maintaining the trust connected to being a .ORG is a responsibility we all share.”
The City Mission won the 2019 .ORG Impact Award for Best #GivingTuesday campaign. They are proud of this honor, but what motivates the staff, first and foremost, is their calling and commitment, says Trickel. “Few people who work with us would say they are going to work. They’re dedicated to Christ and that’s why they do what they do. We’re united for a significant purpose.”