Shepherd's Heart Ministry
Shepherd’s Heart is a ministry devoted to providing food, clothes, shower, first aid, laundry service and prayers to the homeless. It also will provide limited shelter during periods of intense cold (below freezing) to women and children who have nowhere else to turn.
As Christians, Shepherd's Heart is committed to worship in "spirit and truth." By being so, Shepherd's Heart takes it upon themselves to feed the poor, the homeless and the addicted, with food for the body, but most importantly, food for the soul. They provide church service every Sunday evening as well as a meal for those in need. They provide showers, wash clothes and a meal every weekday morning in the drop-in center. They also provide transitional housing for homeless veterans. This congregation is committed to help those less fortunate survive the streets of Pittsburgh with their Christian hearts. Our students lend a helping hand and a listening ear to patrons of the ministry once a week and often attend prayer services with them. Through this interaction, our students are finding out that, contrary to popular opinion, homeless people are often there due to economic hardship and not by choice.
Duquesne students visited every Sunday from January 2011 until April 2011.
"Through going to Shepherd's Heart, I never realized how much it would impact my life. I typically tend to gravitate toward helping people, whether it is a coat drive or simply donating money. However, this experience positively changed me into being a more humble person. Often, my attire consists of more expensive clothing. Before getting ready in the morning to go to Shepherd's Heart, I would second guess what I was wearing, as if wearing jeans with a logo on the pocket would offend someone. I realized that I should just be happy to have enough pairs of jeans, sweaters, coats, and other clothing or accessories regardless of a brand name. In today's society, many think it is important if you can afford anything under the sun. By talking to individuals at Shepherd's Heart, I learned that, while I feel I am a pretty empathic person already, taking people's feelings into consideration is important when helping out in a shelter similar to that. You do not know everyone's stories so it is hard to gauge how they will react to a college student coming in to talk to them. One day, I met this man named Paul and we talked about anything from music and bible verses. After the morning prayer service, everyone seemed to calm down in order to talk about whatever was on their minds. Because I was nervous about how I would be perceived at first, the morning prayer service was a good transition to help me into a familiar topic between us."
-Jaclyn Fiedor, Biology 2016
"When I worked with Shepherd's Heart, I realized that some of the people there were geniuses. They might not have been as well versed or knowledgeable as what one would deem a genius, but their street knowledge and just overall strength is unreal. On top of that, these men and some women are still able to come in after a night sleeping on the ground and put on a smile for you and talk to you. Some didn't but that was okay... trust me I understood. I empathized with these men and women because they were so knowledge. They were not just homeless people, they were just like me, a human being. There is not a doubt in my mind that I learned more from then than they learned from me. They were hospitable to me when I went, they realized I wasn't homeless, but they treated me with such hospitality that even though they did not have a home, I felt at home.
I feel that students need to get excited for opportunities like these and like Shepherd's Heart to become well rounded people. When you become a complete person, you become a lifelong learner and the intrinsic rewards to this are valuable."
- Chris Merrill, Forensic Science & Law, B.S. May 2014, M.S. May 2015
"Before taking Service Learning, I honestly thought that this course was just another class that I had to sit through for attendance points to evidently pass. Now being at the end of the semester, I can confidently say that I was completely wrong. This class taught me so much, way more than I expected. Through Service Learning, I was able to serve at a homeless veteran shelter, also known as Shepherd's Heart. This facility aids those who are less fortunate with warm meals, hygienic facilities, and the word of God. By serving these individuals, I was able to see that the streets are unforgiving to those who are living on them.
Every Sunday evening, the crowd of people changed. There were a few regulars, but primarily there were always new faces. I was able to talk with a lot of different people, each asking me what I did for a living. I gladly said I was a student at Duquesne University, studying Biology. I expected many people to be taken back after I said this, but surprisingly the opposite happened. I learned that many of the people in shelter enjoyed the subject of science. One gentleman told me that he enjoyed learning about the growth of plants and the ocean. I thought that that was amazing. Finally, I was challenged while I was serving at this facility. I was challenged with regards to my communication skills. I am the type of person who loves to talk, but only with people I am comfortable with. This, of course, was not the case at the shelter. I had to step out of my comfort zone and walk up to pretty much strangers and say "Hello!" This was a lot harder said than done. I learned, though, that the people were welcoming. They just appreciated having someone there to talk to and have a conversation with, allowing them to forget for a few hours their situation on the streets."
- Amanda Holmes, B.S. Biology May 2015, M.S. Education May 2016
"Throughout the community service my opinions and feelings were slowly changing. I haven't personally done much community service in my life so this was in a way stepping outside my comfort zone. I chose Shepard's heart because I wanted to interact with people because that is a way to help others and be helped yourself whether you know it or not. I truly believe I was affected positively through my time at Shepard's Heart with the underprivileged and homeless. I never got to interact with people of this type before and I quickly learned that I would learn new things each and every time I went. I do think other types of community service can not only better the community but yourself, but I think interaction with people is the best type of service. Not only can you help them in whatever was possible, but they can taught me information that I will never forget and will keep close to me. Not only was the information I was receiving helpful, but it taught me to be a better listener. I started to focus more on things that I wasn't necessarily looking for, more under the surface details. In my future path this information is priceless. Serving the community in that way has driven me to hopefully do more non-required community service in the future."
- Alex Castanzo, B.S. Forensic Science May 2014