Category Archives: From the Staff

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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From the Director ~ May 2017

Bob Emberger, Executive Director

Bob Emberger, Executive Director

Dear Friend of the Mission,

The homeless men who come to the Whosoever Gospel Mission are working hard every day to rebuild their lives. You can be encouraged knowing that your gift provides our men with a hand-up from poverty and not just a hand-out.

Helping our men obtain up-to-date state-issued positive identification is one of the most important things that we do for them. Without state-issued identification, our men are stuck. They cannot get a legal job, they cannot open a bank account, they cannot get medical treatment at private or public health centers, they cannot apply for various government benefits, they cannot pick up from the pharmacy life-saving prescriptions, they cannot enroll in a vocational training program in order to get a better job, and they cannot rent their own apartment.

Obtaining their state-issued positive identification is also one of the most challenging hurdles that our men face. This costs money that our men do not have. It often requires legal expertise to help our men successfully jump through the hoops and over the hurdles in order to obtain their state-issued ID. In some cases our men are the victims of identity theft. Someone stole their identity. In other cases, our men have lost important documents such as their birth certificate which are essential to obtaining state-issued positive ID. In some cases, our men have been living under an alias for decades, and now they want to do the right thing and start living by their legal name.

Some of our men arrive at the Mission with no state-issued ID at all; we accept them into our New Life Program because a pastor, family member or correctional facility verifies that they are who they say they are.

Bob Emberger, Executive DirectorThrough your financial support, the Whosoever Gospel Mission works hard to help our men obtain the state-issued ID they need to move forward in life. Obtaining their state-issued ID is a foundational stepping stone to so many other goals that our men are working so hard to achieve. Your kind and generous gifts are making all of these next steps possible. Over and over again we have seen God make a way when there is no way. Our God is the God of the impossible!

A very familiar credit card commercial always asks the question, “What’s in your wallet?” When many of our men first arrive at the Mission, they would answer that question somberly with shame and sadness with the word, “Nothing.” With your support, our men are soon able to joyfully answer that question with the words, “My ID!”

Rebuilding lives one brick at a time,
Bob signature
Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ April 2017

IMG_5206

Bob Emberger with New Life Program Graduate, John

Dear Friend of the Mission,

We just celebrated our 125th anniversary with a joy-filled Night of Celebration at one of our supporting churches. It was a wonderful evening filled with moving testimonies, great music, countless reminders of God’s faithfulness, sweet fellowship and delicious refreshments.

Tony King, the very first graduate of our New Life Program going way back to 1989, shared how the Lord opened up a job for him at Rutgers University/Camden in November of 1989 through the New Life Program. During his stay at the Mission, he overcame his drug addiction, his faith in the Lord was renewed and he was able to become the kind of father that his daughters hoped for and wanted. Both of his daughters are now college graduates and enjoy successful careers. A few years ago, one of his daughters who buys toys for us every year for our annual Christmas toy giveaway thanked us for giving their dad back to them. Our Men on a Mission singing group (they are all graduates from our New Life Program) blessed everyone with their extraordinary 4-part, acapella Gospel singing. These men all entered the Mission more than 20 years ago as homeless, drug addicted men – their lives have been forever changed by the grace of God working through the Mission.

Gilbert Reese, another graduate, shared how he had been homeless on the streets of Philly from age 18 to his early 40’s, often living under 30th and Market Streets in Philadelphia. He was in and out of the Mission 9 times before “it took.” Because of God’s love and kindness working through the Mission, he is now living in his own apartment and is reunited with his family up in the New Brunswick, NJ area.

Robert Jessie, also a graduate of the Mission who now works for the Mission as our sorting room supervisor (he supervises the processing of the 6-8 tons of clothing you donate each week to the Mission), shared how he was number 39 on our waiting list when he first called the Mission as a homeless man years ago. He thought he would never get into the Mission, but the Lord opened the door, and he was able to come into our program just a few days later because none of the 38 men ahead of him returned our phone calls. Robert knew that the Lord was smiling upon him. Today he is married, active in his church, lives in his own house, and enjoys his ministry at the Mission.

Because of your support, these successes and celebrations are your celebrations. Your gifts are being used every day to provide life-giving, life-changing and life-saving help to the homeless men who live at the Mission. Thank you for making a difference through your gifts.

Celebrating together with you,

Bob signature

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ February 2017

Save the date! Celebrate with us 125 years of God’s faithfulness to the Whosoever Gospel Mission on Saturday, April 1st, 2017 from
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Willow Grove!
We turn 125 years old only once! Refreshments will be served after the program. Admission is free – just a free-will offering. More details to follow.

Bob Serving

Bob serving the shrimp at our Christmas Eve luncheon

Dear Friend of the Mission,

Please check out this heart-warming collection of photos filled with laughter, smiles, good food, toys and gifts from our 2016 Christmas celebration at the Whosoever Gospel Mission. Your financial gifts, gifts of new toys for the children and grandchildren of our men, gifts for our men and all sorts of other wonderful kindnesses made Christmas 2016 an amazing time at the Mission. Thank you for making Christmas for our men (and their kids and grandkids!) a time of celebration and joy rather than a sad time filled with crushing loneliness, heartache, regrets and hopelessness. Our men and their families join with me in thanking you.

I also want to thank you for your kind and generous support throughout 2016. You have given us food, good used items for our thrift stores, laundry detergent, personal care items, office supplies, over-the-counter medicines, paper products, cleaning supplies, trash bags, new underwear and socks, pillows, good used grocery bags for our thrift stores and a host of other blessings. You have supported us financially through generous cash gifts, employee giving programs such as the United Way and the Combined Federal Campaign, gifts of stock, donor advised fund grants, employer matching gift programs, and gift cards to stores we shop at for the Mission. I wish I could thank you all individually and in person. Your support helped us to provide life-giving, life-changing and life-saving help to our men. The Mission is ultimately not about programs or buildings, but it is about loving broken and hurting homeless men with the love of Christ, giving them a hand-up and not just a handout, giving them a solid hope that changes their lives both now and forever. The positive changes that take place in just one of our men will touch and impact for good the lives of hundreds of other people – perhaps even your life. Keep on investing in our men – your support will pay dividends for years to come.

With heartfelt thanks,

Bob signature

 

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ Christmas 2016

unknown001115Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Dear Friend of the Mission,

“There’s no place like home for the holidays!” That is so true, but for many of our men, they will not be home for the holidays – instead they will be at the Whosoever Gospel Mission – not a bad place, but not their true home. However, we work extra hard to make the Mission a warm and happy home for the holidays. If you would stop by at the Mission during the month of December, 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 glorious Christmas carols joyfully sung in our chapel, you would see our men smile on Christmas Eve at our Christmas party as they receive gifts donated by Mission friends, and you would experience firsthand the wonder and joy of the season. We go all out at Christmas to bless our men, and 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). As the angel of the Lord said to the shepherds that first Christmas, “I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” (Luke 2:10). We want our men to capture and experience for themselves the wonder and joy of that first Christmas. This is the best present of all!

As we quickly move toward the end of 2016, please consider making a special gift to the Mission so that we can keep the joy and hope of Christmas before our men each and every day throughout 2017. Here are several great ways you can help:

  1. A generous year-end gift of cash. God will use your gift to impact and change lives.
  2. Some families bless our men by pooling their resources and giving a special Christmas gift to the Mission from their family (individual receipts for each donor can still be given).
  3. 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 direct services to our men. Your gift would be a major investment in the lives of our men.
  4. Give 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. If you would like to do this, please call me at 215 438 3094 (ext 102).
  5. If you have set up a donor-advised fund, you can recommend that a grant be made to the Whosoever Gospel Mission. Your grant will make a difference in the lives of our men.
  6. Make a Charitable IRA Distribution. 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 on-line donation. You can also set up a monthly recurring donation for 2017.

Christmas tree in our chapel

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 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 support.

As we finish out 2016 and begin 2017, 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 2016. The Lord wonderfully used your gifts to make life-giving, life-changing and life-saving differences in the lives of our men. Your generous support impacted over 175 homeless men in 2016. Their families and friends and society as a whole also benefited from your support as our men became responsible, contributing members of society. Pray with us for even greater reasons to celebrate with our men in 2017.

Wishing you the joy and peace of Christmas,

Bob signature

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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