Resale shop sets vision in motion
Marci Elsbury of South Huntingdon saw the former boarding house at the corner of South Water and Vine streets as a blessing.
Elsbury is the visionary and board president behind the Mantle House Mission, a transitional home for 18- to 24-year-old homeless or near homeless young adults.
“It was exactly what we were looking for,” she said of the building, which was purchased on Sept. 25.
The Mantle House, a faith-based organization incorporated last June, plans to give guidance in employment and financial decisions as well as spiritual guidance.
The board, which also includes West Newton residents Sue Jones and Rita Boettner, opened a resale shop at the building in October and is working on obtaining its 501(c)3 non-profit status.
The shop, open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, takes gently used donations of household goods, kitchen wares, knickknacks and Christmas decorations.
Clothing is discouraged and is donated to West Newton Wears on Main Street, Elsbury said.
While the building is prepared to house young adults, the board members have been working with officials from the Union Mission in Latrobe and the Washington City Mission as well as serving meals in Pittsburgh.
Boettner said when she toured the Washington mission with the board members, she was impressed by the quality of their services.
“It's so great to know the women who have kids have a place for their kids to sleep,” she said.
Elsbury wanted to focus more on single young adults because she felt there was a lack of services that helped offer guidance as well as a place to stay.
“We want to help them become a whole person, well-balanced,” she said.
Each resident will have an individualized care plan with a “learn to earn” program that rewards community service with home appliances and other items to help the young adults work toward becoming independent, Elsbury said.
Fundraising for the mission has been going on since last year, including a table at Miracle on Main Street a few weeks ago, selling wreaths.
All three women attend the Bible Alliance Church in Turkeytown together.
Jones said she heard Elsbury speaking about her vision for the Mantle House and got on board after seeing what a problem homelessness is through the church's local missions programs.
“It really is a problem and I don't think people realize it,” she said.
If they are still in school, young adults have a hard time focusing on homework and long-term educational plans if they struggle to find a place to sleep at night, Jones said.
“They cannot process it and try to plan for a future,” she said.
Boettner said she understands how difficult it is to begin life as an independent adult without a strong foundation.
“We live in our own little worlds where we don't reach past our comfort zone,” she said.
Working with Elsbury and Jones has been very rewarding, Boettner said.
“They're both nurses, so I know they've both seen how people need help and they're nurturing people,” Boettner said.
Mantle House, named for a cloak of protection from God in Isaiah 61:3, only needs a few small upgrades, like new sinks in some rooms and minor repairs, Elsbury said.
Jones said she has really appreciated the support and donations they have already received.
“The community has just been wonderful,” she said. “Everybody seems really open to it.”
Anyone interested in volunteering or donating can call 724-872-7119 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 724-836-6660.