Beatitude House Presents Pastella as Director

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – For the first time in its 26-year history, the leader of Beatitude House comes from outside the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown as Gina Pastella was introduced as its new executive director Thursday.

“In the business sector, you have to learn how to manage resources well, how to plan for the future and look for ways to bring in additional partners,” she said after her presentation. “All those business skills can be implemented here to help us grow and take things like technology, training and education of our team to the next level.”

Among her first priorities are the creation of a three-year plan for the organization that focuses primarily on developing social media channels, developing sources of funding and increasing recognition of the agency.

“We need to have a modern presence in media of all sorts. We need to make sure our website is accessible for everybody and the information is easy for them to access,” she said. “That’s how people find out about things.”

Regarding funding, Pastella said the organization’s development team is in the midst of diversifying funding sources and seeking new donors. At the same time, events such as the annual Wine Taste & Auction will remain a key part of fundraising.

What made Pastella the right person for the job is the wide range of experience she has, noted Sister Mary McCormick, board chairwoman of Beatitude House. Before joining, Pastella was vice president of operations at VEC Inc. in Girard, director of NEO Health Force and had served in leadership positions at Shepherd of the Valley and HealthRays Alliance in Cleveland. She also started her own life-coaching business, Create Success.

“A lot of the work we do with women is personal and inspiring them to make a new life for themselves,” McCormick said. “Each person who’s director brings her own gifts to the job. … We think Gina is going to bring the experience of a more contemporary education and more connection to social media and making our name known.”

And, McCormick and Senior Development Officer Sister Patricia McNicholas noted, Pastella is Beatitude’s first leader who’s not a member of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown. The decision, they said during the press conference, should help bring in some new points of view.

At the outset of her term as leader of the organization, Pastella seems to fit in already. At her first staff meeting, she went table to table and worked with each group there after introductions, said Sister Mary Alyce Koval.

“My first impression was of her excitement, her smile and her friendliness. … For being part of a team, she just moved right in and people were pleased with that,” she said. “A lot of things are changing in housing and [she’ll] bring something new to the organization and work with the staff and board to move into the future.”

Previously a volunteer who helped Beatitude House, Pastella has seen some of those changes, she said. Most clients today are homeless and more than half who come in so because of domestic violence. On the backend, education has played an increasing role in Beatitude’s mission in recent years.

“Some of the new areas of focus are trauma-informed care, being a little more client-focused, the housing-first initiatives to get them barrier-free housing,” Pastella said. “First, we’re stabilizing their situation and making sure they’re in a safe, stable environment. Then we can start to provide those supportive services centered on their specific needs.”

Among the services offered are transitional and permanent housing, courses in English as a second language, college application and financial aid assistance, tutoring and summer camps for children.

“There’s always going to be a need for housing for disadvantaged women and their families. Circumstances in society change and we’re moving to keep up,” Koval said. “We’re dealing with situations that perhaps 25 years ago did not exist.”

Beyond the work with Beatitude, McCormick said, creating connections between other community organizations and other functions of the Ursuline Sisters, such as its education programs and its HIV/AIDS ministry, will also be a focus under Pastella.

“As a community, we’re trying to make sure the laypeople who work with us know each other, so there can be networking among ministries,” she said. “We’re excited for this new phase. When an organization gets to be 25 years old, there’s a sense that it might just be plodding along. … We have a sense of excitement about how the mission is going to grow and develop and thrive for the next quarter century.”

Pictured: Beatitude House Board of Director Chairwoman Sister Mary McCormick, Executive Director Gina Pastella and Senior Development Officer Sister Patricia McNicholas at Pastella’s introduction Thursday.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.