A helping hand for the holidays— Area organizations band together

THANKFUL — First Step resident Jamar H. is appreciative to receive the toys and coat from the recent holiday giveaways. (Photos by Diane I. Daniels)

 by Diane I. Daniels, For New Pittsburgh Courier

A popular phrase during this time of year is that it is better to give than to receive. This season, First Step Recovery Homes Inc., based in McKeesport, and the Samaria Project, located in Pittsburgh, demonstrated such sentiments through their generosity and giving capabilities. During the week of Dec. 20, the organizations provided toys and coats to a dozen residents and participants in the First Step program in efforts to support their families.

“One of our goals is family unification. Creating stability in the family unit,” said Keith Giles, CEO and founder of First Step Recovery Homes. “Supplying toys and coats for children of our residents for Christmas eliminates unwarranted pressures during a stressful season.”   

First Step, embarking upon 30 years, provides supervised, temporary safe drug- and alcohol-free structured housing and support services for men recovering from the disease of addiction. Assistance includes safe housing, drug and alcohol counseling, domestic violence and dual diagnostic groups, family reunification, a furniture bank, reference and referral services and entrepreneur training.

“Emphasis is placed on creating a sustainable ‘recovery community’ for each person, providing tools, resources and supports in place for participants to maintain independence, stay clean and sober and fulfill their life’s purpose and reconnecting with their families,” explained Giles. The staff calculates that throughout its history over 1,000 men have participated in First Step.   

“We are delighted to support needs-oriented organizations,” said Melissa Terrell, founder and organizer of the Samaria Project. “We are assisting the guys at First Step as a way to eliminate barriers which reserves the opportunity for them to continue to focus on their recovery.”

The aim of the Samaria Project is to empower children, youth, and families who face critical situations while respecting the cultural differences of the people they serve. Concerned about the disparities of how money is dispersed for mental health causes, Terrell decided to advocate in her own way to bring special needs issues and requirements to the forefront. Aware that mental health and poverty strikes everywhere, the Samaria Project is designed to support individuals and organizations throughout Pittsburgh and beyond. Along with assisting the men at First Step, Terrell pointed out that they volunteer throughout the year helping groups like Veterans Place and  Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, and often take groups of children to Kennywood and volunteer during Baptist Temple Church’s community Day.   



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