SA Board Member and Psych Nurse takes you inside his work

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

When I was about eighteen, my uncle had suggested that I become a nurse, but back then I viewed it as a woman’s job and I never considered it because I was carrying a shield of masculinity. At the time, I looked down on men wearing scrubs as nursing aides or nurses. As a mature adult, I realize how this toxic view limited me. I see this way of thinking limiting many other men socially and economically in the same way.

Today I work as a psychiatric nurse, which is a very misunderstood profession, inside and outside the healthcare community. Psychiatry is the study and treatment of mental illness, emotional disturbance, and abnormal behavior. As social beings, we’re always inside of our own heads navigating our thoughts and emotions, and to function in society we have to be amateur psychologists. This attributes to the undervalue of the work of people in the psychiatric field because many believe they can become experts on the topic without studying it. People are also very reluctant to accept how much a role biology plays in our conscious mind that we believe we have so much control over. Until society accepts the role of biology on our mental wellbeing, the stigma will persist.

I work primarily with patients who suffer from addiction, which is often more stigmatized than other mental illnesses. We are constantly fighting the stigma from the general public and within the hospital community. This brings me both frustration and a sense of purpose because I’m advocating for many patients who would otherwise have no one. Mental illness takes over people’s lives and it’s a powerful feeling to help them regain as much of their lives back as they can, which can be something as ‘simple’ as enjoying a day in the park sober.

My job is emotionally and mentally taxing. Addiction is a chronic illness in the same way diabetes and chronic heart disease are so we see the same people come back. It’s easy to fall into the thought trap and believe you aren’t helping, but I see it as a positive every time they walk through the door alive – maybe they used a coping skill they acquired from the previous admission to help them make it back to our door.

My fear is one day I will experience burnout like so many other nurses and this is something I’m mindful of each shift I work. But for now, my work brings my life value and I feel I’m a lucky individual to have fallen into my current line of work.

The theme for the November Assembly is ‘Work’. Join us in exploring this topic together on November 18th, 2018, 10:00 am, at Community Forge located at 1256 Franklin Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15221!


Sunday Assembly to hold ‘Make Sale’ to make a difference


At the November Assembly, people from the Sunday Assembly community will come together for a make sale – an event where there will be a variety of items made the community that will be sold to benefit the community.

Do you make something and want to donate it to a good cause? Feel free to bring your creation!  Items at the last make sale ranged from pillowcases to pastries.

Last time I learned so much about the people in my community by what they created, I had no idea we had so many creative people. I’m looking forward to seeing what you folks create this year.

The proceeds from the make sale will go back into improving the community. We hope to see you there.

The November Assembly will be on November 18th, 2018, 10:00 am , at Community Forge!

Community Forge, 1256 Franklin Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15221

Mental health resources for trauma survivors

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

The effects of the shooting at Tree Life Synagogue will radiate throughout our community for years to come. Many people will be left with the trauma of the shooting and many will exhaust their toolbox of coping skills. Whether you were directly involved in this tragedy or you’re indirectly affected, below is a list of mental health resources for you.


ReSolve Crisis Services:  Call 1888-796-8226 if you feel that you are in crisis. What defines a crisis is completely subjective. A crisis can range from the death of a loved one to not being able to handle a tragedy on the news.



Psychology Today Find a Therapist tool:  In addition to articles, there is a database of therapists in the area.  Search criteria can be refined to include insurance, specialization, and even secular practitioners.



Headspace:  A great app for those who want to practice guided meditation for both iOS and Android.  While free, the full app does require a subscription service or you can purchase meditations.




Sunday Assembly takes a powerful look at how work may make or breaks us

work pic
Photo by Jane Palash on Unsplash

The theme for the November Assembly is ‘Work’. Work plays a significant role in our personal and professional lives. It can be viewed through many lenses, for example, paid work and volunteering. The assembly will explore the effect work has on the human condition.

The main speaker will be John Haer, Board President of the Battle of Homestead Foundation.  The Battle of Homestead Foundation’s purpose ” is to preserve, interpret, and promote a people’s history focused on the significance of the dramatic labor conflict at Homestead, Pennsylvania in 1892.” The Battle of Homestead was a significant event in our history that helped lay the foundation for the modern labor movement.

Also speaking will be Andy Hoke on his work with Guitars 4 Vets–a nonprofit organization that helps military veterans manage their PTSD by learning to make music. Andy is also one of Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh’s original founders.

Throughout most of my twenties, I have been torn whether work should define my life, and if so, how much? As I approach the age of 30, it’s still something I wrestle with. I’m sure I am not alone in having this dialogue. This month’s assembly will give us the opportunity to discuss the topic together.

Join us at The November Assembly, Sunday, November 18, 2018 at 10 AM to 11:30 AM. The location will be Community Forge located at 1256 Franklin Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15221. See you there!

To view more of our events, please visit our Events Page.


‘Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us’ (Book Club)

Photo by Jorge Saavedra on Unsplash (Not photo of Kate Bornstein)

Kate Bornstein went on the journey from living life as a heterosexual man to embracing her identity as a lesbian woman. The Huffington Post describes her as, “a historic figure in the queer and trans community, whose work as an artist in the service of activism spans many decades” Borstein has written multiple books on issues regarding gender nonconformity and coping in a society that often has a concrete view of gender. The books she’s written include, ‘Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us’, ‘Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws’, and ‘My Gender Workbook’. In a 2015 interview, Kate praises the support of “gender fluidity and redefining it and making it something that’s OK for kids to be.”

Sunday Assembly Book Club is examining Kate’s book, ‘Gender Outlaw’ (2016 version) for the November’s Book Club. In the book, Kate challenges gender norms head-on with quotes like, “I know I’m not a man . . . and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m probably not a woman, either. . . . . The trouble is, we’re living in a world that insists we be one or the other.” The original book was published in 1994, a 2016 version of the book was also released.

Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh considers itself an “inclusive” community, and along with inclusivity must be a discussion to embrace and listen to each other’s story. Let’s shed light on the beauty and the ugly of our existence.

Join us at Panera Bread located at 3401 Boulevard of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 on Saturday, November 17, 2018 at 11 AM – 12:30 PM. If you don’t read the book, feel free to come and join the discussion.

To view our other events, please visit our events page.


Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh Elects New Board For 2019

Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh, July 2018

Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh held their quarterly board meeting on October 7th, 2018. During the meeting, the goals and vision for the organization were discussed in detail. The current board discussed the best people to move Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh in the right direction to continue to grow and be an asset to the community.

The nominating committee gathered potential board candidates and presented them to the current board to be voted on. Each nominee was required to write a statement about how they will help grow the Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh. After careful deliberation, the board voted for the members to lead Sunday Assembly into 2019.

Amazing people were added to the board to help improve Sunday Assembly. We are looking forward to the upcoming year!

2019 Board Members:

Lisa Seel (2019-2020)                                                
Katrina Loutzenhiser (2019-2020)
Liz Hrenda (2019-2020)
Dana Morganroth (2019-2020) 
Bill Hathaway (2019-2020)
Brandon Tucker (2019-2020)
Sarah McKay (2018-2019)
Kelsey Derringer (2018-2019)
Henry McKay (2018-2019)
Jim Marino (2018-2019)
Cory Derringer (2018-2019)
Dominika Oliver (2018-2019)
Jason Furente (2018-2019)

‘The Assembly After Dark’ looks to reach nonreligious people who are also non-morning

east end

The regular Sunday Assembly is held every third Sunday of the month at 10:00 AM. The Assemblies are fun and vibrant and leave assemblers feeling refreshed. However, Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh realizes that everyone isn’t a morning person, and some people will never come out early on a Sunday.  Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh looks to reach those people with The Assembly After Dark.

This will be an opportunity for likeminded people to sit down and have a casual brew. Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh is looking to expand its community but has been missing out on the people who don’t do mornings. This will be a chance to make new connections and decompress after the workday.

The Assembly After Dark will be held on November 15, 2018, from 5:30 pm to 8:00pm at the East End Brewing Company, located at 147 Julius Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15206. Per their website, the East End Brewing company is “Pittsburgh’s home for Fresh Local Beer”.


This One Life: Sunday Assembly faces the difficult topic of death


This one life

The theme for the Assembly this month is ‘This One Life’. Sunday Assembly’s charter includes, “a celebration of the one life we know we have”. This notion is embraced by Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh through all its community events.

In western culture, discussing death is often viewed as taboo and is often avoided until absolutely necessary. The topic of death has fostered the creation of religions and has been pondered by philosophers for ages. At the Assembly, we will discuss life and death through a secular lens.

The speaker this month will be, Sara Kiley. Sara has worked in hospice for over 7 years filling roles as volunteer coordinator and music therapist.  She currently practices through Three Rivers Arts & Wellness as owner and music therapist.

The next Sunday Assembly is October 21st, 2018, 10:00 am (regular time), at Community Forge located at 1256 Franklin Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15221. See you there!


Sunday Assembly has another great Pumpkin Day


Shenot (2)

A perfect fall day made for another great Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh Pumpkin Day. The parking lot was full of cars that brought excited adults and children ready to enjoy what Shenot Farm had to offer. The weather was partly cloudy with a one hundred percent chance of cider.

We indulged on freshly picked crispy apples as we rode the tractor down the dirt road to the pumpkin patch, passing skeletons and creepy scarecrows on the way. The tractor approached a vast field of pumpkins scattered about. Before we got to the pumpkins we entered the corn maze where we wandered aimlessly. After we made it out of the maze we walked around the seemingly endless field of pumpkins enjoying each other’s company.

Not all of us left with pumpkins, but we all left with smiles and sense of community. I personally left with fresh apple butter. My calendar is already marked for Pumpkin Day 2019.