Good News!

SA reaches the homeless ‘Steel City’

by Robert Mitchell
The Salvation Army in Pittsburgh is reaching the city’s homeless population with emergency canteens. Michael Riemer, Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) regional director for the Western Pennsylvania Division (WEPASA), said the early results are phenomenal.

Students from the Pittsburgh Technical Institute (PTI) have been certified to drive the canteens and have completed some EDS training courses.

Riemer said the first day of the homeless outreach program with the Homewood/Brushton Worship and Service Center was “unbelievable.”

“We were not sure how this day was going to go, but it greatly exceeded all expectations that I had,” Riemer said.

Captain Daryl Calhoun, corps officer (Priority! magazine, winter 2014), and other corps members have worked hard to make this happen. Among them was Philip Martin, the social services case manager at the corps (“Transformations,” GN!Sept. 2013).

“The service we are providing is very much needed and appreciated by the city police,” Riemer said. Four Pittsburgh police officers assigned to the neighborhood have endorsed the program.

“We stayed for two hours serving a hot lunch. And to my surprise, we set a record for the number of individuals that we served, which totaled 94,” Riemer said.

“We stayed for two hours serving a hot lunch. And to my surprise, we set a record for the number of individuals that we served, which totaled 94,” Riemer said. “What was even more surprising was the impact that we made. Many of the homeless people thanked us for providing a hot meal. I personally was touched by this and was amazed.”

In another part of town, 3 more PTI students and corps volunteers fed homeless people living under bridges. “They were able to serve 20 homeless individuals under the Liberty and Birmingham bridges,” he said. “I am still on Cloud 9 as I am reflecting how successful both operations were at the same time.”

On a subsequent trip with the Homewood Corps, Riemer said 144 more people were helped.

“What was even more surprising was the response from all of the community,” he said. “Everyone thanked us for coming out to help.

“We are in the planning stages to make this a weekly event and I am working on getting a few other volunteers to help us out.”

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