Category Archives: From the Staff

Urgent Financial Need

We need your prayers and any help you can give.

We just found out that an $86,500 foundation grant we were actually awarded isn’t going to be coming anytime soon, if at all. This is no one’s fault – please see this letter for an explanation of what happened.

We’ve also had some other financial challenges. This leaves us with a $90,000 deficit as we quickly move toward the end of our fiscal year, September 30, 2018.

God is good. Please pray with us for our daily bread!

We’re reminded that our provision and help is now and always has been from the Lord alone (Psalm 20:7). He’s a good shepherd.

If you’d like to give now online, click here.

Thanks!!

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From the Director ~ August 2018

IMG_8439Dear Friend of the Mission,

We need your prayers and your help at this time to keep doing all that we do to restore homeless men to society as productive, contributing members of our community. Our income always decreases in the summer months, but this summer our finances are especially tight. We currently are running over $90,000 behind in operating income versus expenses. Here’s why:

  • We just found out that a major grant of $86,500 that seemed like a sure thing will not be coming our way any time soon if at all. One of our supporting foundations decided a year ago to cease operations and planned to give us this generous grant as a final distribution. However, they were recently told by the Attorney General’s Office of the state in which they are incorporated that we as well as other non-profits slated to receive a final distribution are not eligible for a final grant since the foundation’s charter (from the 1800’s) limits its grant making to a very specific geographical area of which we are not part. The foundation and we are stunned. This seemed like money in the bank and was actually included in our budget for this year. $86,500 is a huge hole to fill.
  • Some of the churches and individuals that support us have had to significantly reduce their financial support because of their own financial struggles.
  • Other much needed budgeted grant income is reduced this year. Applying for grants is very competitive, and many foundations do not fund the same organization every year.
  • Ten years after our rebuilding from the arson fire, many things are wearing out all at the same time. On a monthly basis we have had HVAC, electrical, sprinkler system, fire alarm, plumbing, and equipment repairs and replacements. Thankfully some of the bigger ticket items have been paid for by special gifts, but the other repairs continue to add up.
  • Our budgeted sales for our two thrift stores are behind by $28,500. Not just our stores, but many thrift stores in the Philadelphia area are struggling. In fact, one large chain of five thrift stores recently filed for bankruptcy. Thankfully we are still far from that point.

Our fiscal year ends on September 30, 2018, and we are praying fervently, cutting expenses, not replacing staff, and working hard to pay our bills and end the year without a deficit. We need your help and prayers over the next six weeks by September 30, 2018. Thanks so much!

Trusting the Lord (Psalm 20:7),

Bob signature

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ Summer 2018

Dear Friend of the Mission,

Your gifts on these hot summer days continue to feed, shelter and clothe the homeless men who live at the Mission. Homelessness never takes a vacation. Your gifts, though, provide our men with so much more than food, shelter and clothing. Your generous gifts also equip our men with the skills and resources they need to achieve a fulfilling life, restored relationships with their family, a lifestyle of recovery from addiction, improved physical and mental health, a good job, a place of their own they can call home, and long-term success as productive, contributing members of our community. Your gifts this summer are being used to make life-giving, life-changing and even life-saving differences in the lives of our men. And all of these critical supports and services are wonderfully blessed by the amazing love and grace of our Lord. We encourage our men to taste and see for themselves the goodness of the Lord (Psalm 34:8).

I want to encourage you too with the truth that your gifts also support and encourage our dedicated and highly trained staff. Our compassionate and talented staff provide our men with all of the practical helps and resources that your gifts make possible.

Heather with family and friends at graduation

Heather with family and friends at graduation

Just a few weeks ago, Heather Rice, my Executive Assistant, graduated with her Doctor of Ministry Degree in Urban Mission from Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, PA. Her dissertation is entitled, “Helping Homeless Men at the Whosoever Gospel Mission Build Healthy Relationships with their Children.” It is such an exceedingly practical and well-written document that other missions are already asking Heather for a copy. Just on a side note, Heather has faithfully served at the Mission since 1993 when she was 13 years old as a freshman volunteer from Central High School. Heather has served at the Mission first as a volunteer and now as a paid staff member for 25 years. During her tenure at the Mission, she earned her bachelor’s degree, her master’s degree and now her doctoral degree. Quite an achievement!!!

I pray and hope that you have many special times this summer with friends and family. Thank you for remembering us and the homeless men at the Mission with your generous gifts.

Sincerely,

Bob signature

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ May 2018

IMG_8439Dear Friend of the Mission,

In the Bible we read these sobering words, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7:15,19 ESV). The Apostle Paul’s words in these verses are a bit of a tongue twister, but in his graphic description of the power of sin in our lives, the Apostle Paul uses language that also describes well the power of an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Most of the homeless men who come to the Mission are in fact struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction. They come to the Mission because they don’t want to keep using drugs or abusing alcohol – they are sick and tired of being sick and tired.

At the Mission, we help our men overcome their addiction to drugs or alcohol. We have our Overcomers drug and alcohol support groups, we provide individual counseling to find answers to the reasons why our men choose to use drugs and alcohol, we do on-site drug and alcohol testing to provide our men with accountability and we provide a loving and supportive community that equips our men with the knowledge, skills and resources they need to overcome their addiction to drugs or alcohol. Above all, we point our men to the Lord who is able to give them the motivation and power to break free from the bondage of even years of a life-dominating addiction. In the 30 years I have served at the Mission, we have seen the Lord over and over again set the proverbial captive free from the bondage of drug and alcohol addiction. None of our men were born an addict, but through a variety of circumstances and people, they began to use and abuse drugs or alcohol – they never planned on being an addict, but it happened and quickly took them captive. They became slaves doing what they hate and not doing the things that they love. And tragically once they were addicted, they discovered that they were powerless to overcome their addiction through their own strength. But thankfully, we have a message of hope and power – that addicted men can be set free through the power of Christ living out His life through them.

Overcoming an addiction to drugs or alcohol is a tough battle and a life-long struggle – but thankfully through the power of God it is a winnable battle. Please join with us through your generous gifts to help our men overcome their addictions. Your gifts will be used to save a life, to set a captive free, to reunite a father with his children, and to restore a broken man to our community as a productive, contributing member of society. Please give our men a hand up!

With much thanks,

Bob signature

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ April 2018

IMG_5567-001Dear Friend of the Mission,

It is amazing how time flies!  On Monday, February 19, 2018, I celebrated my 29th anniversary of working at the Whosoever Gospel Mission.  During my tenure at the Mission, we have had the privilege of ministering to thousands of homeless men.  It is always a joy to be traveling around the city and have either a former resident honk their horn at me as they drive by, run up to the Mission’s van when I am stopped at a red light, or walk up to me on the street to say hi.  One of our graduates is a city sanitation worker and used to pick up my trash each week.  One of my most amazing encounters took place years ago in New York City at Christmas time.  One of our graduates, Richard, operated a watch kiosk on the streets of New York City; he was fully licensed as a street vendor by the city of New York.  My family and I were up in New York to see the play, A Christmas Carol, and were making our way to a food court to get lunch before the play.  Manhattan is always crowded, but at Christmas it is impossibly crowded.  As we were standing on a street corner ready to cross the street after the light turned green, I heard a voice calling out, “Rev. Bob.”  And there was Richard, our graduate from the Mission, selling his watches from a kiosk.  God definitely made that meeting happen.  In a city of millions at Christmastime, the chances of Richard and I running into each other is almost impossible.  We had a nice visit, albeit brief, before we went on to see our play.  Just a side note, Richard today is retired and living in California with his wife.  He keeps in touch with us via email and every now and then sends a check our way to help keep the Mission going.

Probably the most eventful thing in my 29 plus years at the Mission is the catastrophic arson fire we suffered on February 25, 2006.  We were shut down for almost three years, and when we re-opened everything was brand new and in perfect condition.  Today, 12 years later, things are starting to break down and wear out – sadly at the same time!  Right now we have over $27,000 in equipment/building replacement and repairs including a new lobby tile floor, a new fire alarm monitoring panel, emergency repairs to our phone system and the need to replace it with a new system (we actually discovered our phone panel smoking with melted plastic – we really don’t want another fire!), and pump repairs to our heating system and water booster pumps.  We need your help at this time to keep the Mission going as a safe, warm, pleasant, efficient and comfortable place for our men.  Our ministry to homeless men is much more than bricks and mortar, but a good facility helps to make our ministry even more effective.  Thanks so much!

With warm regards,

Bob signature

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ Christmas 2017

Bob Emberger

Bob Emberger, Executive Director

Dear Friend of the Mission,

When you are homeless, there is no peace or joy living on the harsh streets of Philadelphia. There is only chaos, danger and strife. There are no halls to deck with boughs of holly, or Christmas trees to decorate. Ironically, for a person experiencing homelessness, the festive decorations and joyful music of the season can feel like salt being rubbed into an open wound. Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration with friends and family, but none of this is true when you are homeless. Because of these sad and painful realities, we work extra hard to make the Mission a warm and happy home for the holidays – a place of joy, family, friends and celebration. The Mission becomes a place of safety, hope and peace. If you stop by at the Mission during the month of December (and you are always welcome to do so!), you would see festive Christmas decorations, you would enjoy delicious food, you would munch on homemade Christmas cookies, you would see our men select Christmas toys and gifts for their children and grandchildren, you would hear wonderful Christmas carols joyfully sung by our men in chapel, you would see our men smile at our Christmas party as they receive gifts donated by Mission friends, and you would see our men experience for themselves the real joy and hope of the season. We go all out at Christmas to bless our men. We also go all out to remind them of the true meaning of Christmas – “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11), “and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). We want our men to capture and experience for themselves the hope and joy of that first Christmas. This is the best Christmas present ever that our men can experience.

As we quickly move toward the end of 2017, please consider making a special gift to the Mission so that we can give our men the joy and hope of Christmas each and every day throughout the coming New Year. Here are several great ways you can help:

  1. Give a generous year-end gift of cash. God will use your gift to impact and change lives.
  2. If God has especially blessed you this past year, please consider sending a larger than usual gift to the Mission. Large gifts take big bites out of our budgeted expenses. They also strengthen and expand our compassionate services to our men. Your gift will be used to make life-giving, life-changing, and life-saving differences in the lives of our men.
  3. Some families bless our men by pooling their money and giving a special Christmas gift to the Mission from their family (individual receipts for each donor can still be given).
  4. Give the Mission a gift of appreciated stock. A gift of appreciated stock is always a great help and can also provide you with some excellent tax benefits, especially if you transfer the stock directly to the Mission rather than first selling it. Please consult with your financial advisor to confirm these tax benefits. We can easily arrange for an electronic transfer of your stock. Please call me at 215 438 3094 (ext 102).
  5. If you have a donor-advised fund, you can recommend that a grant be made to the Whosoever Gospel Mission. Your grant will bless our men in many ways.
  6. Make a Charitable IRA Distribution to the Mission. This provision has now been made permanent by the IRS, and it allows you to make up to a $100,000 qualified charitable distribution. The effect in most situations is both a tax savings and an increased gift. Please consult with your financial advisor to confirm these tax benefits.
  7. Save postage and time – you can go to our Whosoever Gospel Mission website to make an online donation. You can also set up a monthly recurring donation for 2018.
  8. Make your online purchases through AmazonSmile which is run by Amazon.com as a unique way to support charities. You will get the same service, same merchandise, same prices. Register with AmazonSmile and designate the Whosoever Gospel Mission to receive a percentage of all the eligible purchases you make on AmazonSmile. You can search for the Mission on AmazonSmile, or you can type in the following link: http://smile.amazon.com/ch/23-1352579. You won’t pay any more for your purchases, but you will be helping the Whosoever Gospel Mission.

Christmas will be here and gone before we know it. But through your kind and generous support, the hope and joy of Christmas will continue throughout the New Year in the lives of our men. Jesus is the reason for the season, but He is also our hope and joy for the rest of the year. Our men truly do thank you for your kind and generous support.

As we finish out 2017 and begin 2018, my prayer for you is that the Lord will abundantly bless you and your loved ones with good health, much happiness and great success in all of your endeavors. Thank you for standing with us in 2017. Your generous support was wonderfully used by the Lord to impact 196 homeless men in 2017. Your gift also impacted their families, their friends and society as a whole as our men became responsible, contributing members of our community. Your support made a big difference, and will continue to do so in the days ahead.

Wishing you the joy and peace of Christmas,

Bob signature

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ Thanksgiving 2017

unknown001115Dear Friend of the Mission,

Homelessness, drugs and alcohol really beat up the men who come to the Whosoever Gospel Mission. When a man first arrives at the Mission, he looks like he is carrying the weight of the whole world upon his shoulders. He is hungry, tired, depressed and downcast. Quite often his face bears the physical scars and missing teeth of violence from the streets or even from staying in the City shelters. But when one of our counselors meets him and welcomes him into the New Life Program, he is told that everything can be different, that God can give him a new life, a fresh start, a chance to start over, a new beginning. We also provide him with clean clothes, brand new underwear and socks, a delicious meal, clean bedding, and toiletries so he can get a hot shower, brush his teeth, put on clean clothes, and no longer feel the gnawing pangs of hunger. An amazing transformation begins to take place as all of these good things happen – our new resident begins to believe that a better day has arrived, he feels safe, and he is able to experience a good night’s sleep for the first time in a long time.

Your kind and generous support keeps our doors open, our lights on, our kitchen cooking, and our staff offering a warm welcome to each and every man who comes to the Mission. And with a full array of wrap-around supports and services such as counseling, tutoring, life skills classes, job readiness training, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, access to medical care, case management, and daily chapels, the broken and hurting men who come to the Whosoever Gospel Mission begin to rebuild their lives one brick at a time. Their frowns are turned upside down, and they begin to taste and see that the Lord is good. Our men begin to enjoy the refreshing still waters and the good green pastures of the Lord, even as the 23rd Psalm declares.

Our men are poorer than poor and could never pay for all that we provide them. Your financial support, though, makes it possible for us to give our men a hand-up (and not just a handout) at this Thanksgiving season and throughout the entire year. We are really looking forward to our annual Thanksgiving Feast. The enclosed handout shows some great photos from our 2016 Thanksgiving Day Feast. And on Thanksgiving Day, we will be sure to give thanks to the Lord for you! You are the ones who keep the Mission going as a safe haven of hope and help, not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day. Our men thank you, and so do we.

Your partner in giving hope,

Bob signature

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ September 2017

IMG_5567-001

Executive Director Bob Emberger teaching Professional & Vocational Development Class

Dear Friend of the Mission,

As we come to the end of our fiscal year on September 30th, first and foremost I want to thank you for your friendship. Through your support, the lives of broken and hurting homeless men were touched and transformed by God’s amazing grace. Here are only a few of the many ways that your support made a huge difference in the lives of our men and their families:

  • Our men enjoyed over 80,000 nutritious and plentiful meals and snacks this past year.
  • Over 100 of our men received free eye exams from Great Faith Vision; this wonderful non-profit also provided free prescription eyeglasses to any man who needed glasses.
  • Carson Wentz, quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, and Chris Maragos, a safety on the Philadelphia Eagles, shared powerful words of encouragement with our men.
  • Thousands of items of good used clothing and brand new underwear and socks were given without charge to our men.
  • The Mission provided over 1,648 new toys at Christmas to 317 needy children including the children and grandchildren of our men as well as a number of other needy children.
  • Several of our men were able to recover from surgeries and serious illnesses while living at the Mission. Residents were medically treated for and/or recuperated from a hip replacement, a knee replacement, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, congestive heart failure, an irregular heartbeat, painful abscessed teeth, painful body abscesses, COPD, severe edema in a leg resulting from a clot, dehydration, high blood pressure, gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD), asthma, HIV disease, AIDS and life-disrupting mental illness.
  • The Mission helped over 45 of our men secure a good job outside of the Mission and 6 men enroll in an off-site education or training program.
  • Over 75% of our men increased by at least one grade level in reading, writing and math.
  • A multitude of our men experienced for themselves the peace, hope and joy of the Lord. Our loving Lord brought life out of death, hope out of despair, and joy out of sadness.

We have also had many financial challenges this year. Please give an extra generous gift before September 30, 2017 and help us end our fiscal year financially strong. Thank you!

With warm regards,

Bob signature

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ August 2017

Bob Emberger, Executive Director

Bob Emberger, Executive Director

Dear Friend of the Mission,

You often hear me say that the Mission provides homeless men a hand-up and not just a handout. You can never go wrong with compassion, and there is nothing wrong with handing out food to a hungry and homeless man surviving in downtown Philadelphia. But it is always far better to equip and help a homeless man get a job and become self-supporting so he can buy his own food instead of depending upon others for his next meal. Equipping and empowering homeless men to become self-supporting is one of the main things that we do here at the Whosoever Gospel Mission.

At the beginning of my Professional and Vocational Development Class which I teach on Monday nights at 6:00 p.m. (you are always welcome to sit in!), I always ask our men who has gotten a job since last week. After a man shares about his new job, our men always give up a hearty round of applause and cheers. Thank you for your kind and generous support that helps us give homeless men a hand-up and not just a handout. Your faithful giving is used by the Lord every day at the Mission to make life-giving and life-changing differences in the lives of our men. Our ministry is a ministry of transformation, restoration, and best of all, celebration!

Please accept my special thanks for helping us out with some extraordinary expenses this summer – an expensive air conditioning repair and a very large water bill resulting from the Philadelphia Water Department under billing the Mission for over 7 years (they incorrectly programmed the new water meter they installed in 2008 shortly before we reopened after being closed for almost three years after our catastrophic arson fire of 2006). Your kind and generous gifts are a great encouragement to us. It is comforting to know that when difficulties and problems come our way, we are not alone. We have a multitude of friends and supporters who fervently pray for us and who also give generously to us. Because of your kindness, our water bill is paid off and our men are enjoying cool temperatures in our dormitory building. We found out that we still need additional work on our AC, but for now it is working, and our men are comfortably cool. I hope your summer has been a good one thus far.

With much thanks and appreciation,

Bob signature

 

 

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ June 2017

L to R: Eagles safety Chris Maragos, WGM executive director Bob Emberger, and Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz

L to R: Eagles safety Chris Maragos, WGM executive director Bob Emberger, and Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz

Dear Friend of the Mission,

Every day at the Mission is a mix of both blessings and challenges. The blessings that the Lord brings our way always amaze us. As Scripture declares, the Lord does exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20)! For example, we had the joy and privilege of Carson Wentz, the starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, and Chris Maragos, the Eagle’s special team safety, visit the Mission on Monday night, June 5th, to share with our men their strong faith in the Lord and to encourage our men to live for the Lord, to always put God first in their lives.

Carson Wentz shared that he has on the inside of his wrist a tattoo that says, AO1 – it stands for “audience of one.” Carson uses this as his reminder that whatever he does including playing professional football, he is ultimately doing it for the Lord – an audience of One! As you can see by the photos, our men were thrilled and honored to have these two down-to-earth and approachable professional football players take time out of their busy schedules to share honestly and openly with our men.

In addition to these amazing blessings, we also have our challenges every day. Right now, a number of our men are in a life and death struggle with a heroin addiction. You might have read in the newspapers, seen on TV, saw it online, or heard on the radio that Philadelphia is in the grip of an opiod epidemic. Our men can work through overcoming their addiction at the Mission, but they first need to go to a medical detox. We are finding that medical detoxes are overflowing and simply do not have enough beds. One of our residents actually sat for two days in a detox’s waiting room since there were no beds available. Please pray for our men.

This summer we also have some big bills to pay. Our central air conditioning system (it has a chiller on the roof) needs a $28,440 repair. In addition, we found out a year ago that the Philadelphia Water Department coded our water meter incorrectly, and we were under billed for over seven years. The Water Department discovered their mistake when they replaced our meter with a new meter. We were told that we were under billed by $28,355 over a seven year period. Wow! Thankfully, at a hearing we requested, we were forgiven more than half of the bill and are required to pay $13,423 rather than $28,355. If you can help with either of these huge expenses, we would be grateful.

Even with these challenges, our confidence is in the Lord and His goodness, wisdom, power, and provision. He will make a way when there is no way!

May your summer overflow with blessings,
Bob signature
Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

 

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