YOUNGSTOWN – Beatitude House, which serves homeless and disadvantaged women and their children in Mahoning, Trumbull, and Ashtabula counties, is announcing a three-year strategic plan and the hiring of a new executive director.
At Exponent press time, an April 6 news conference was to be held naming Gina Pastella, a Hubbard native and veteran of corporate and non-profit administration, as the new executive director.
The leadership of Beatitude House, a ministry of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, was also to announce a strategic plan that will include a reduction in the number of units for transitional housing and an increase in the number of units for permanent supportive housing.
Ursuline Sister Patricia McNicholas, development director and former executive director of Beatitude House, Ursuline Sister Mary McCormick, general superior of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, and Joseph Fleming, president of Beatitude House’s board of directors, were scheduled to speak at the news conference.
Pastella succeeds Sister Janet Gardner of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God, who served as executive director of Beatitude House for the past four years. Sister Janet was elected to the general council of her religious community.
“We had 50 candidates [for the Beatitude House post] and after numerous interviews we narrowed down to two,” and the committee unanimously chose Pastella, Sister Patricia said in an Exponent interview.
“We are excited about appointing our first lay director,” Sister Mary McCormick said. When Beatitude House was established in 1991, Ursuline Sister Margaret Sheetz, founder, served as the first executive director. With Sister Margaret’s death in 2001, Sister Patricia became director, serving until 2013. When she stepped aside to become development director, Sister Janet became executive director.
“Though we’re sorry to see Sister Janet leave, this is an opportune time for new leadership because Gina will be able to help us implement the new strategic plan. We look forward to working with our lay colleagues to continue to bring vigor to this ministry,” Sister Mary said. She also praised the other past directors.
Pastella, a graduate of Hubbard St. Patrick School and Hubbard High School, went on to graduate from Bowling Green State University. After college, she served as vice president for Valley Electrical Consolidated of Girard, which offers electrical, civil, and mechanical contracting.
Her other positions included serving as director of NEO HealthForce, which provides an infrastructure for health care providers, education and training providers, public workforce development and social service agencies.
She has also served in leadership positions at HealthRays Alliance in Cleveland and at Shepherd of the Valley senior living facility. In addition, Pastella ran her own leadership and life coaching business, Create Success, for six years.
“It’s a privilege to serve as executive director for Beatitude House to continue the Ursuline Sisters’ ministry,” Pastella said. “My family and I have been involved in volunteer and community service. I have long been aware of the work of Beatitude House and was looking to get back into the non-profit sector. This was the right opportunity.”
In the past 26 years, Beatitude House has provided transitional housing and permanent supportive housing for disadvantaged women and their children. In addition, Beatitude House offers educational programs and job training to help these families move from dependency to independence.
At one time, the transitional period for a family moving from public or partially public-funded housing to an independent living situation averaged 18 months, Sister Patricia explained, but with new regulations from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the transitional periods have been reduced to eight months.
At present, Beatitude House has 75 housing units – 35 units of transitional housing (for homeless women and their children) and 40 units of permanent supportive housing (for women with a severe difficulty, such as physical disability or mental illness, that impedes their ability to maintain independence), Sister Patricia explained.
“Most of these families in transitional housing have come from emergency housing,” such as that provided by the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley and domestic violence shelters, Sister Patricia said.
Development for Beatitude House’s new strategic plan, Sister Patricia explained, began about a year ago when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) informed Beatitude House that it was shifting its funding away from transitional housing and toward drug treatment and programs for the mentally ill.
After consulting with a Cleveland consulting firm, Sister Patricia said, Beatitude House developed its strategic plan to deal with the diminished funding it will receive while still providing its ministry. “Our goal, in addition to helping the mothers is to offer opportunities for the children to thrive and to foster the next generation.”
In addition, Sister Patricia said, the strategic plan calls for additional efforts to support educational advancement for low-income families and to upgrade the technology used by Beatitude House.
“Beatitude House reflects the Ursulines’ commitment to people in need and we are involved in a variety of ministries in the area, especially for low-income people,” Sister Patricia said. “With a new director and new strategic plan, we hope to continue to do so well into the future.”