Stephen's Story: Room to grow

“I wish people could understand that not all people are homeless because of drugs, or alcohol. It can happen to anybody." - Stephen

Stephen Mahan was couch-surfing when a friend told him about Union Mission, a men’s shelter and United Way partner program in Westmoreland County.

Stephen knew he needed to change the way he was living. “I needed to get my life in order,” he said. That’s why Stephen entered Union Mission’s 120-day supportive housing program last summer.

The four-month program is designed to motivate and encourage the residents, while helping them learn how to maintain a self-sufficient lifestyle, build community and grow spiritually. “The way the staff and community embraced my story and came together to help meant so much to me,” Stephen said. “I’d never been in a community like that before.”

Stephen established a daily routine, had the opportunity to give back to the people of Latrobe through community service and was able to rediscover his faith. “The program made me stronger,” he said.

The program has allowed Stephen to build a support system that will stay with him as he looks to the future. “We weren’t just numbers to them,” he said. “I still keep in touch with the volunteers I met there.”

After completing the program over the summer, Stephen is now employed and is working on obtaining his Associate’s degree in information technology. He now has his own apartment. Someday he hopes to continue his education and bring light to the stigma of homelessness.

Union Mission and United Way’s PA 2-1-1 Southwest work together to reach individuals in the region in need of help. In addition to the supportive housing program, Union Mission hosts one of United Way’s two Cold Weather Shelter sites in Westmoreland County, and four emergency beds year round.

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