Our Mission: Offering compassionate, faith-based recovery services to mothers and their children.
Volunteers Needed!


Gardening Day 

April 25 

Join Sojourner House staff and volunteers at 7056 Kelly Street in Homewood, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 25 to help in weeding, planting, and preparing the grounds of Sankofa for spring.  For more information and to RSVP, please contact volunteer coordinator Liz Wasel at 412.441.7783, x22 or ewasel@sjhpa.org.


Sojourner House to Host Volunteer Recognition Event April 1 

On Wednesday, April 1, we will celebrate the work of over 80 volunteers who contributed their time, expertise, and compassion to the mothers and children of Sojourner House. The event, to take place at 5:30 p.m. at 5460 Penn Avenue, brings together staff, volunteers, and board members of Sojourner House and Sojourner House MOMS. "We are deeply grateful for our volunteers," said executive director, Joann Cyganovich. "Their loyal service provides a constant stream of support to our programs, allowing us to make ends meet and to continue providing top-quality services to our mothers and children." 



Thank you for reading Sojourner House's Newsletter.  In each issue, you'll learn about recent happenings at Sojourner House, as well as current and upcoming news and events.  For more information or if you have a suggestion, please contact Laura Stephany, director of development, at  lstephany@sjhpa.org

Healing Through Writing
Sojourner House Partners with Chatham University's Words Without Walls

On Thursday, March 26, Sojourner House and Chatham University hosted a public reading at Most Wanted Fine Arts Gallery in Garfield, culminating a semester-long creative writing course called Make Mine Words.  Every Thursday, Sojourner House residents meet with Chatham instructors Sarah Shotland, Anna Sangrey and Brittany Hailer.  During the classes, residents write prose or poetry in response to various writing prompts.  The class encourages the women to begin a practice of personal journal writing, therapeutic writing and writing for recovery.  Residents shared their deeply powerful work at the reading.  Attendees, including residents' family members, Sojourner House staff, volunteers, and board members were moved to tears throughout the evening.


Cheryl Coney, BSW, a counselor at Sojourner House oversees the workshop sessions.  She credits Chatham professors Sheryl St. Germain and Sarah Shotland, founders of Make Mine Words, and many others in Chatham's Words Without Walls program with having a tremendous positive impact on Sojourner House residents:


"The women who began Make Mine Words at Sojourner House, Sheryl St. Germain and Sarah Shotland, initially operated as volunteers.  They began in the fall of 2012 taking two hours each week from their own schedules.  They supplied journals, pens, and copies of other authors' works.  They even had a professional bookbinder visit and teach the women how to create their own journals.  Recently, under the umbrella of Words Without Walls, Sheryl and Sarah received a grant that allows them compensation for the expenditures of printing and renting of the space for the anthology reading.  Because of their grant, they have been able to bring in published authors to meet and greet our women.  Sheryl and Sarah believe as we do:  our women are worth it.  For some time now, Words Without Walls has flourished and Sojourner House reaps the benefits.  The women have been to book signings and authors have come to Sojourner House to read their works.  Their grant has helped to expand these women's understanding of what fun is and shown them some alternative activities in which to engage.


Furthermore, what Sheryl and Sarah have brought to our women is a sense of accomplishment.  The talent many of our clients possess had lain dormant, anesthetized by the disease of addiction.  The Make Mine Words project has sparked rebirth for our women and renewed their sense of hope and confidence.  As I stated before, many of these women have never before felt heard, let alone ever had the opportunity to express themselves.  This workshop allows them to address their abusers, rage against their traumas, cry out to their mothers, and nurture themselves.  They have learned to hear their own inner voices.  Each woman's writing breathes life into her own recovery while offering vocabulary for her sisters to begin to express their anguish in a language that is familiar and pure.


It is with sincere gratitude that we continue to welcome these women from Chatham University's Master of Fine Arts program each semester.  They contribute to our ladies' healing process, bringing them out of their cocoons, helping them to spread their wings, and soar beyond their pain and circumstances."


For more information on Words Without Walls, including the newly launched anthology bearing the same name edited by Shotland and St. Germain, visit:  wordswithoutwalls.com


Sojourner House residents pose with Counselor Cheryl Coney and Chatham University MFA student, Brittany Hailer, one of the creative writing class instructors.