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Trio of Uniontown mission projects to benefit from grant

| Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A $300,000 challenge grant recently awarded to Uniontown's City Mission-Living Stones Inc. will be split among three projects, its executive director said.

“We are so excited the Richard King Mellon Foundation came on board. This says a huge amount about their confidence in us being able to achieve what we set out to achieve,” said Irmi Gaut.

The Fayette County nonprofit serves the homeless. The grant funding will boost an agency capital campaign to increase housing and services.

Gaut said $100,000 will be used toward construction of six permanent supportive housing units for homeless families, bringing the number of units to 14.

The agency has secured the land for four one-bedroom, one two-bedroom and one three-bedroom units with access to public transportation and job centers. The construction will replace vacant, blighted property.

“There is a need for that because we have long-term housing here at the mission for two years. Once they leave the apartments, we want them to be successful,” Gaut said.

Another $100,000 will be dedicated to expanding the independent living program for youths age 18 to 21.

The program serves runaway and homeless youths, as well as children referred through Children and Youth Services, juvenile probation and the county office of mental health.

“We have been open since 2002. Since then, numerous kids have aged out of the system. At 18, you are considered an adult, but they might not be ready yet,” Gaut said.

She cited one example of a young woman whose mother is in prison, and who has no other custodial adult in her life. Her only other option is an adult shelter, she said.

The vision includes a large, single-family home for possibly four young adults. They must attend high school or enroll in college or business school and must contribute a portion of the rent.

An on-site house parent will assist with life skills, Gaut said.

“This will help them take the next step toward being independent,” she said.

The final $100,000 will be applied to the completion of major upgrades to the Gallatin School Living Centre, City Mission's transitional housing program.

Each of the 30 units in the former school, opened as a homeless center in 1998, would have kitchen appliances, furnishings and flooring replaced.

Plans include renovation of the community room and kitchen, space that is used regularly for board meetings, holiday dinners, weekly on-site mental health services and recreational activities for residents.

“We always have a waiting list,” Gaut said.

“No one is turned away if they are unable to (contribute rent). But we expect that once someone gets in the program they start working and take steps toward paying rent.

“Clients are expected to meet certain goals,” she said, including earning a GED and obtaining a driver's license.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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