Our History

Building relationships with the homeless for 15 plus years…

 

In 2005, CityGate Network, a national organization with over 100 years of experience in the homeless rescue business, had an initiative combined with localized missions to plant new Rescue Mission in areas where none existed. CityGate, in partnership with the Rescue Missions in York and Lancaster, PA, and Washington, DC, decided they would provide the seed money and a Board for Keystone Mission. The organizations hired an individual to come to lead the new Rescue Mission.  


In 2005, the Keystone Mission started feeding homeless individuals off the back of a box truck in Scranton. Late in 2006, the first buildings at 8–12 West Olive St. in Scranton were purchased. The buildings were dedicated on Jan 25, 2007. Meals started being served out of the W. Olive Street’s building on Friday–Monday evenings. Over the next few years, clothing and food distribution programs began for homeless and low-income individuals and families.  


In 2008, a private donor interested in expanding the programs of Keystone Mission those affected by addiction donated the building 290 Parkview Circle location in Wilkes-Barre. The location was specifically to begin a long-term men’s residential addiction recovery program. This program, called the Life Change Program, was in existence until 2019. 


In 2009, both the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre locations programs focused on Message and a Meal which provided a hot meal and a gospel presentation on the weekends (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday), food and clothing distribution programs to the homeless and low-income individuals/families.  


Looking to the future of Keystone Mission, in 2019, the Board of Directors brought on Justin V. Behrens, LSW, MSW as the new CEO & Executive Director. Since his hire, the Keystone Mission has refined their focus to provide help and hope to men and women who are broken and experiencing homelessness in Northeast PA. All Distribution programs were discontinued in at the locations to restructure staff and resources towards providing programs that are geared to educate, train, and teach men and women how to build themselves up. All of this is made possible through strategic partnership with community organizations and agencies. 


To date, Keystone Mission continues to provide meals on the weekend (Friday–Monday) but the approach has changed to “to-go meals.” The organization has new programs like The Innovation Center for Homeless and Poverty, located at 12 West Olive Street. The programs empower and equip guests to better themselves by taking steps to seek medical, mental health, and drug/alcohol treatment, education and job readiness training, housing assistance, and aid to obtain their government IDs, health insurance, and social security benefits.  


The Mobile Outreach program, powered by staff and volunteers, takes a portion of resources on the road to seek out guests in the community. The approach is to build connections and make sure the guests are safe and healthy.  


The new 15-bed Transformation Center takes men off the street, places them in a controlled environment with the purpose of equipping them to turn their lives around. The program is structure through 5-pillars: Heart and Mind, Job Readiness, Life Skills, Spiritual Training, and Self-Care. All men who are accepted into the program will go on a journey to free themselves through addiction, seek the right medical/mental health treatment, receive an education and trade training, and be setup for success. 


Keystone Mission is the broker of relationships while volunteers, community leaders, and agencies provide their services which better the men and women experiencing homelessness.  

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