Thank you for loving our men with the extravagant love of God. Please our post sharing heart-warming photos that spotlight the new toys that were given to the children and grandchildren of our men and the Christmas gifts that our men received. You will be especially blessed and encouraged by Michael’s “note of thanks.” The Lord’s love doesn’t just turn frowns upside down, but most importantly of all, God’s love makes a person feel loved to the very core of his or her being. God’s love fills a heart with hope and determination to press on.
I have a pretty big announcement to share with you in this letter. As of March 1, 2022, after 33 years of service, I will be stepping down as the Executive Director of the Whosoever Gospel Mission. The great news is that the Lord has raised up the perfect person to be our new Executive Director, Dr. Heather Lynn Rice. Heather is currently our Associate Executive Director. Heather has served with the Whosoever Gospel Mission for 29 years starting as a freshman volunteer in Central High School. When she went to college, Heather worked part-time at the Mission and then became full-time upon graduating from college. Heather then earned both her masters and doctoral degrees while serving at the Mission in many different roles and capacities. For many years she served as my Executive Assistant before becoming our Associate Executive Director. I will become the Executive Director Emeritus on March 1st. I will also pick up a new title, Director of Advancement. My job as Director of Advancement will be to do whatever I can do to bless and prosper the Mission both internally with our ministries and externally raising the funds and resources we need to continue sharing God’s love with the broken and hurting homeless men who come to the Mission looking for help. I am stepping down as the Executive Director for health reasons. As you know, I had extensive open heart surgery last May. Thankfully it was a success, because without it I had only 1-2 months to live. However, the surgery resulted in significantly decreased energy and stamina, and lymphedema and weakness in both legs. I still hope to work 40 hours a week as Director of Advancement, but I can no longer put in the 50 plus hours a week required as the Executive Director. Thank you for supporting me as the Executive Director for 33 years. It has been a good run. I am excited that Heather is taking the helm as our new Executive Director. She will do an amazing job. Please pray for her, and please continue to generously support the Mission to let Heather know that you are standing with her in her new role. With joy, serving at the Whosoever Gospel Mission has been the best job ever. Thank you for being part of it.
When I was growing up in the 1960’s, Christmas at my house was always a magical time filled with wonder and joy. I never got too excited about Santa Claus, but I did get excited about the Sears Catalog that was brimming with pictures of the most wonderful toys. I would spend hours looking through it trying to figure out what I wanted for Christmas. And my mom and sisters would make mouth-watering Christmas cookies. The Christmas TV specials were always fun. Our house would be decorated for the holidays with lights on our tree and lights in the windows, and I can still hear the long-play record albums playing Christmas songs by Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Rosemary Clooney, Mel Torme, Andy Williams, Angela Lansbury, Burl Ives, and of course, Alvin and the Chipmunks. The longest night of the year was Christmas Eve, waiting for the morning to come when I could open my presents. Throughout the night I would go to my parents’ bedroom (in the dark, mind you) and ask if it was morning yet. And then on Christmas Day, my mom would make the best Christmas dinner ever.
But when you are homeless, you don’t have any of these things. When you are homeless, the Christmas song “There is no place like home for the holidays” is like rubbing salt in the wounds. The harsh streets of Philadelphia are not a home, sleeping in an abandoned building or car is not much of a home, and even staying in an overnight emergency shelter doesn’t really add up to much of a home. In contrast, we work hard to make the Whosoever Gospel Mission a warm and welcoming home for the holidays. We will be decorating our chapel with festive holiday decorations made for us by the kindergarten students at William Penn Charter School, our Christmas tree will look spectacular, our daily chapels will be filled with joyous Christmas carols, we will be conducting our annual toy giveaway for the children and grandchildren of our men, on Christmas Eve each of our men will receive several Christmas gifts donated by churches, families, schools and individuals, Christmas cookies will be enjoyed throughout the entire Christmas season, our men will feast upon delicious Christmas meals, and the Christmas story which joyfully proclaims peace on earth and goodwill toward men and women will be celebrated throughout the season. Jesus is the reason for the season, and we try to do Christmas up big for our men so they too might experience the joy of Jesus.
As we quickly move toward the end of 2021, please consider making a special gift to the Mission so that we can give our men the joy and hope of Christmas not just at Christmas, but on each and every day throughout the coming New Year. Here are several great ways you can help:
Give a generous year-end gift of cash. God will use your gift to impact and change lives.
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).
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.
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).
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.
You can make up to a $100,000 Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) to the Mission instead of taking your required minimum distribution (RMD). Your distribution must be sent by your IRA custodian directly to the Mission. The effect in most situations is both an income tax savings and an increased gift. Please consult with your financial advisor.
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 2022.
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, and the 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.
Make a gift to the Mission through PayPal Giving Fund. Search “Donate with PayPal Giving Fund” or go to PayPal Giving Fund’s website: www.paypal.com/us/fundraiser/hub and search “Whosoever Gospel Mission.” We get the full value of your donation – PayPal doesn’t charge us any fees.
Christmas will be here and gone before we know it. But through your kind and generous support, the peace, 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 2021 and begin 2022, 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. My open heart surgery and the ongoing pandemic made 2021 a very hard and challenging year for me and for the Mission. Thank you for standing with us. Your generous support kept the Mission alive and was used by the Lord to bless the 187 broken and hurting homeless men who lived at the Mission in 2021. Your gift also blessed their families, their friends and our society as a whole as our men became responsible, contributing citizens.
Because COVID is still very much with us, our 2021 Thanksgiving Day celebration is once again going to be a somewhat small affair. We normally have a big crowd of 130-140 people – our residents, volunteers, Mission friends, New Life Program graduates, staff members, and family members of our staff and residents. I have celebrated 32 Thanksgivings at the Mission, and our Thanksgiving celebration is always one of the highlights of my year. When my four kids were still living at home, our Thanksgiving Day dinner was always at the Mission. But this year, in order to protect our residents from COVID being brought unknowingly into the Mission by a visitor, we are once again going to limit our Thanksgiving Day celebration to just our 55 residents and a few staff. As you might recall, we had a serious COVID outbreak last December that affected 7 residents and 6 staff members. We thank the Lord that we have not had any additional outbreaks since January 2021. We want to keep it that way. So the most loving thing we can do is to be extra, extra careful this holiday season for the sake of our men and staff.
But we are still going to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving Day feast fit for a King (the Lord Jesus Christ Himself :-)!). Our Thanksgiving Day feast includes roasted turkey, homemade gravy, seven-cheese macaroni (which I make every year), creamy mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, savory stuffing with cranberries (which I also make from scratch every year), green beans almondine, buttered corn, rolls & butter, cranberry sauce, apple cider, and an amazing assortment of desserts – pies, cookies, brownies, cheesecake, and candy.
For many of our residents, the Whosoever Gospel Mission family will be their family on Thanksgiving Day. Together we will enjoy good food, warm fellowship, and a double portion of laughter as we gather around the tables. Just recently, one of our former residents asked to come back into the New Life Program. When he called us asking to come back, he shared that he didn’t realize until after he left that we really are like a family to him. The Scriptures say that Jesus is not ashamed to call us his brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:11). Likewise, we rejoice in calling our residents family.
Thank you in advance for your kind and generous support. Thank you for being part of the Whosoever Gospel Mission family. The Mission family is like Jello in the old TV commercial – there is always room for more!
Each year, homeless dads living at the Mission give over a thousand gifts to hundreds of their kids & grandkids. For many men, lovingly selecting & wrapping each gift is a first step toward reconnecting with family. See it firsthand in this video or check out these photos.
Here’s how you can help:
Buy new, unwrapped toys, gifts, and stocking stuffers for ages 0-18 (especially gifts valued at $25 or less).
Deadline: Monday, December 13th
Call Heather (215 438 3094 x 103) by Dec. 6th to arrange for drop-off or pick-up.
Grocery & Supply Gift Cards
We already have several food drives lined up with local schools, churches and other groups throughout the Fall. But we could really use the following gift cards for perishable items and other urgent supply needs as they arise:
Walmart (also good to use at Sam’s Club)
The Home Depot
Lowe’s Home Improvement
BJ’s Wholesale Club
Call Heather (215 438 3094 x 103) to arrange for drop-off, pick-up, or mail-in.
AmazonSmile & PayPal Giving
AmazonSmile: Donate at NO EXTRA COST to you! Make your online Amazon purchases through AmazonSmile & designate the Whosoever Gospel Mission as your charity of choice – you’ll pay the same price but a percentage of your purchase will be donated to us! To register, go to: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/23-1352579
PayPal Giving Fund: Search “Donate with Paypal Giving Fund” or go to PayPal Giving Fund’s website: paypal.com/us/fundraiser/hub and search “Whosoever Gospel Mission.” We get the FULL value of your donation – PayPal doesn’t charge us any fees.
Gift bags for 55 Homeless Men
Homeless men are typically isolated from friends & family, and often, they don’t receive any gifts at the holidays. For many of our men, the gifts they receive at the Mission are the only Christmas presents they’ll get.
Here’s how you can help: Make gift bags for the men. Fill them with things like a pocket calendar, umbrella, pens, socks, water bottle, snacks, tissues, lip balm, lotion, etc. (please don’t put soap in the same bag as food). Be creative!
Deadline: Wednesday, December 22nd Call Heather (215 438 3094 x 103) by December 6th to arrange for drop-off or pick-up.
This past year has been a challenging roller coaster of a ride for the Mission with COVID still with us. But through it all, our doors stayed open to welcome with kindness and hope broken and hurting homeless men. We never closed. And through it all, you kept us going.
The United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey – donate to the Mission through United Way’s Donor Choice Option. Our Code Number is 1045.
The Combined Federal Campaign – federal employees can choose the Mission to receive their gift through the CFC. Our Code Number is 69784.
The City of Philadelphia Employees’ Combined Campaign – the Whosoever Gospel Mission is listed in the Contributor’s Guide under the category: Independent Charities Vetted by America’s Charities. Our Code Number is 30-0047.
United Campaigns in other states and regions – you can still designate your gift to the Whosoever Gospel Mission even if you live and work in another state or region of the country. Check your campaign booklet or ask your workplace United Way coordinator.
America’s Charities, Network for Good, the Benevity Community Impact Fund and the Blackbaud Giving Fund as well as others provide administrative services for several workplace giving campaigns throughout the country – check with your company’s workplace giving coordinator to find out how you can designate your gift to the Mission if your workplace uses one of these organizations to conduct their giving campaign.
Matching Gift Programs – many companies will match their employees’ gifts to a non-profit dollar for dollar. Check with your employer to see if they have a Matching Gift Program. You can double your gift to the Mission at no additional cost to you.
Your gifts are being used every day to give life and hope to our men, along with a smile, some good fun, and the powerful medicine of laughter. Thanks so much!
Thank you for your prayers, your support and your friendship!
Dear Friend of the Mission,
Our current fiscal year, October 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021, has at times been a wild roller coaster ride. The COVID-19 pandemic continued to profoundly impact the Mission in our daily operations (e.g., no volunteer youth groups, required mask wearing and social distancing, no outside churches conducting chapel services or providing special dinners, COVID testing for residents and staff, quarantine and isolation rooms for residents infected with COVID or waiting for their test results, etc.). The Mission itself suffered its own COVID outbreak in December with 7 residents and 6 staff members getting sick; our counselor Joe McAvinney and I were hospitalized, Joe for 8 days and me for 6 days. On a personal note, I had a lot of medical tests and procedures in the first part of 2021 and ended up having major open heart surgery on May 14th to replace my prematurely worn out artificial aortic valve (I am still recovering from the surgery and not yet back to my pre-surgery work schedule). And sadly, we got word that 6 of our former residents/graduates died this past year; two of them were former staff members.
But through all of this, God was faithful, and you, our friends, stood with us. On behalf of the Whosoever Gospel Mission, please accept my heartfelt thanks for your fervent prayers, your generous support, and your encouraging friendship. Our fiscal year ends on September 30, 2021. Thank you for helping us to weather a stormy year, and to also celebrate with us all of the good things that happened in and through the Mission in spite of these hardships. We were able to share God’s love in word and deed with the 45-55 homeless men who lived at the Mission on any given day. Our services to our residents were never interrupted. In fact, they even increased. One of our newest initiatives is to provide 50% of a man’s security deposit for an apartment when he is ready to graduate. Many of our men need to pay 2-3 months’ rent up-front as a security deposit to move into their own apartment. We feel compelled by the love of Jesus to help our men with this huge expense. Not all of our residents graduate, but those who do will be helped in a huge way. We are hoping to get foundation grants and donations from friends such as you to fund this new endeavor to secure decent housing for our graduates.
In closing, I want to give a shout out to all of our staff who kept the Mission going throughout all of these troubles and trials. Not one staff member ever complained or failed to show up for work. I want to give special recognition to Dr. Heather L. Rice, our Associate Executive Director, who has so aptly directed the Mission during my convalescence. Heather first started volunteering at the Mission as a freshman at Central High School in 1993. She earned her bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees while working at the Mission. She even turned down a full scholarship as a full-time student working on a PhD at Temple University in order to continue working at the Mission while going to school part time for her doctorate. Heather has faithfully served at the Mission for 28 years and is poised to be my successor as Executive Director when I retire from full-time ministry in less than two years. She has already even offered me a part-time job!
Thank you again for standing with us this past year. As we end our fiscal year on September 30th and begin our new fiscal year on October 1st, we need your continued prayers, your continued financial support, and your continued friendship. We will be sure to celebrate with you all of the good things that the Lord will accomplish in and through the Whosoever Gospel Mission.
Happy summer! Things are perking along nicely here at the Mission. We recently had the pleasure of celebrating with Aaron, our newest New Life Program graduate, as he moved out into his own apartment. Vince and William are looking to graduate and move out soon. Ten others are employed and working on their budgets while they save up and start their apartment hunt. There’s a growing excitement around the Mission as the job market seems to be opening up and more men are finding work.
We’re also pleased to report that after a year-long hiatus, we were able to once again have students from Drexel School of Medicine run a health screening clinic at the Mission. They saw about 24 of our residents on a Saturday morning in June. Each resident was able to review his medications, get his blood pressure and blood sugar checked, review his general health, and speak with an on-site physician about any concerns. We’re also excited to have Great Faith Vision scheduled to come back on July 31st to offer full eye exams (complete with free prescription eye glasses!) to any of our residents who need them.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes right now is that you’re hearing from me, and not from Executive Director Bob Emberger. Much has transpired since Bob last wrote you in May! He had a successful surgery on May 14th to remove his failing artificial aortic valve, replace it with a larger one, and do one coronary artery bypass. Recovery has been slow and not without its ups and downs. But all in all, Bob is doing well. I speak with him daily, often relaying messages of encouragement from friends such as yourself. We’re glad Bob is on the mend, but we miss him here at the Mission. Lord willing, he will be back on-site with us in August.
Even though we’re short staffed without Bob at the helm, we are grateful for the team the Lord has brought together here at the Mission. I’d like to introduce you to one such team member, our dorm supervisor, Mark Reeder. You can read about him here. The Lord blesses us through Mark every day. I trust you’ll be blessed, too. Thank you for your partnership in this great work. Together, by God’s grace, as Mark says, we can “carry on!”
Grateful to “carry on” with you!
Heather L. Rice, D.Min. Associate Executive Director
You might recall that chest pain and trouble breathing is what brought me to Abington Hospital on Sunday, December 20, 2020. I was diagnosed with COVID and was admitted to the hospital for six days through Christmas until my discharge on December 26, 2020. During my hospitalization, my cardiologist told me that once I recovered from COVID, we needed to find out why I experienced chest pain. COVID was obviously stressing my heart, but my cardiologist was concerned about my underlying heart conditions. I have an 8 year old artificial aortic valve and coronary artery disease with a total of 7 stents. Since the end of January, I made two additional trips to the hospital with one five-day admission and a bunch of diagnostic tests. The results are all in. Yesterday, I saw a cardiothoracic surgeon at Abington Hospital. My artificial aortic valve is wearing out prematurely and will need to be replaced through open heart surgery. The less invasive TAVR procedure is unfortunately not an option for me. My surgeon is also going to try to enlarge the area of the aorta in which my artificial valve is placed in order to give me a larger aortic valve which would improve blood flow. In addition, since my stents will not last forever (two in fact are completely closed in one artery), my surgeon is going to try to do up to three coronary artery bypasses. He won’t know how many he can do until he actually sees my heart. I would certainly appreciate your prayers. This is a big surgery that is quite a bit more complicated and difficult than the open heart surgery I had 8 years ago to replace my aortic valve. But I am resting in the truths of Psalm 121 – the Lord is my help and sure hope.
As it stands now, my surgery will be on Wednesday, May 12th. I should be in the hospital for about 6 days and convalescing at home for the better part of 3 months. I want to thank you in advance for your prayers and your ongoing financial support of the Whosoever Gospel Mission. The Mission is in good hands with the Lord and with my dedicated staff. As our Associate Executive Director, Dr. Heather L. Rice, who has served in various capacities at the Mission since 1993, will be directing the Mission in my absence. In fact, Heather has been appointed as my successor when I retire from full-time ministry at the Mission in about two years (she has already offered me a part-time job writing grant applications to private foundations!). I have enjoyed watching Heather grow up serving the Lord at the Mission from a young 13 year old freshman in Central High School into an extremely gifted and highly qualified godly woman. By God’s grace, the Mission is in excellent shape with Heather at the helm
January and February of 2020 were good months at the Mission. We were rejoicing in all of the special activities and events our men were able to enjoy during the 2019 Christmas holidays. Our annual thank you letter in February included a “save the date” notice for our annual Night of Celebration which is usually held in April. And then COVID hit. I remember when we were required to close our two thrift stores as nonessential businesses. Our ministry to homeless men was viewed as an essential business, and we stayed open. But we had to lay off 6 staff members, and over the next several months we lost over $150,000.00 in thrift store income. With our 55-beds for homeless men, we worked hard to keep COVID-19 out of the Mission. We implemented all sorts of policies and procedures to keep our residents and staff as safe as possible. While many non-profits and businesses were able to keep their staff safe by closing down and working virtually from home, this was impossible for us to do as a long-term residential program for homeless men. Our staff members were and still are wonderful – none of them complained about risking their health and 100% of our staff showed up for work every day. By the very nature of our ministry, our staff and residents mixed and mingled together. We were careful and all wore masks and practiced social distancing, but the very nature of our ministry requires in-person interactions. By God’s grace, COVID-19 stayed out of the Mission for 8 months, and then in late November, COVID got into the Mission. We experienced our own mini-epidemic in December. Six residents and six staff came down with COVID. I ended up in the hospital for six days over Christmas. But through it all, the Mission stayed open, and our ministry to broken and hurting homeless men continued without interruption.
I do not have enough words to thank each of you for standing with us in 2020 and doing so much to support us and to keep us going. Some days we were “limping” along, but through your fervent prayers, your generous financial support, and your abundant donations of food, cleaning supplies, masks, and everything else we needed to fulfill our ministry, our doors are still open, we are still loving our men with the love of Christ, and broken and hurting people are tasting the goodness of the Lord. Thank you for all that you did for us in 2020!
The official registration and financial information of the Whosoever Gospel Mission and Rescue Home Association may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll free, within Pennsylvania, 1 (800) 732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.