Chatham News

Chatham University announces new community partnership with Sojourner House

Unique collaboration advances Sojourner House mission to break the cycle of addiction

PITTSBURGH (January 11, 2013) … Chatham University and Sojourner House, a nonprofit dedicated to providing faith-based addiction treatment for mothers and their children to help break the intergenerational cycle of addiction, have launched a new partnership. Led by Chatham’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, the new program Make Mine Words: Writing Your Way to Recovery helps to acquaint residents with the spiritual healing that can be experienced through writing. The workshop participants will keep a creative journal and read and respond to creative writing prompts that will generate poems, stories, or memoir-like short essays.

This pilot workshop is led by Sheryl St. Germain, director of the Chatham MFA in Creative Writing program, and Sarah Shotland, a recent graduate of the MFA program; creative writing graduate students will lead future workshops.

“Creative writing is both a spiritual and healing activity that can offer fresh insights into drug and alcohol use, as well as provide tools to help with recovery,” says Sheryl St. Germain, professor and director of Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing program. “Chatham University believes that learning to write poems and stories about one’s life, and developing the habit of keeping a creative journal provides valuable tools to assist with substance abuse problems.”

This program designed specifically for women living at Sojourner House was inspired in part by Words Without Walls, the successful collaboration between Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing program and the Allegheny County Jail. Words Without Walls fosters and supports creative expression and personal growth by exposing men and women at the jail to literature, award-winning visiting authors, and the opportunity to publish their works.

About Sojourner House
Sojourner House provides in-patient residential treatment to addicted mothers and their children. Located in East Liberty, Sojourner House provides 24-hour residential rehabilitation services for 14 families at any given time. Mothers can bring three children with them and stay up to six months while receiving intensive treatment for addiction. Sojourner House is proud to be the only program in Allegheny County that provides each family with their own apartment while the mother receives treatment. Mothers and children can begin to experience the joys and challenges of living as an independent, drug-free family while securely surrounded by round-the-clock support.

About Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing program
Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing allows students to focus on tracks in creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, screenwriting, and writing for children, while encouraging them to explore two tracks simultaneously. Students take innovative field seminars that include travel to such places as Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, and Germany. In 2007 Poets & Writers named the MFA one of “Nine Distinctive Programs” and The Atlantic Monthly named it one of five innovative/unique programs in the country in its “Best of the Best” graduate program listings. In January 2012, The Writer named it one of the “4 top schools you should consider” and in 2009, named it one of ten programs that offer a specialty focus. Chatham University also offers an undergraduate BFA in Creative Writing, an online Master of Professional Writing, and a low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. For more information, visit or contact Sheryl St. Germain at

About Chatham University
Chatham University, founded in 1869, is located in the vibrant Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pa. Preparing students from around the world, Chatham’s enrollment throughout the past decade was the fastest growing in the Pittsburgh region. With enrollment of over 2,300 students and consisting of an undergraduate women’s college and co-educational graduate and online programs, Chatham has consistently been ranked among the top master’s level institutions in the Northeast by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Offering challenging academics and innovative programming in the fields of sustainability and the environment, health and lab sciences, creative and liberal arts, and business and entrepreneurship, a Chatham education is designed to meet the needs of tomorrow’s economy, today.

For more information, call 412-365-1139 or visit