Category Archives: From the Staff

From the Director ~ April 2020

Executive Director Bob Emberger teaching a class on Professional & Vocational Development

Dear Friend of the Mission,

        Wow, it has been a wild ride the last several weeks with the coronavirus outbreak.  With confidence and trust in the Lord, we believe that God calls us to act in wisdom as we seek to love and protect the homeless men who live at the Mission as well as our staff and their families.  We are instructing our men every day to practice good personal hygiene, we have canceled all volunteer service and chapel groups to minimize the risk of someone from outside bringing the virus into the Mission, we are routinely taking the temperature of our residents and staff, we are regularly sanitizing all high-touch surfaces, and men who are not feeling well are being examined ½ a block away at the City Health Center.  While it is hard to maintain social distancing in a tight-knit community such as ours, we are instructing our residents and staff to not shake hands, to cough into their arms, to wash their hands frequently, to not touch their face, and to refrain from friendly hugs and pats on the back.  And as a precaution for our entire Mission family, which includes you, we have canceled our Night of Celebration on Saturday, April 25th.      

        The stark reality is that the homeless men who live at the Mission have no place to go – the Mission is their home.  Our residents are some of the most vulnerable people facing COVID-19.  Many of our men have chronic health conditions that compromise their ability to fight off the coronavirus if infected.  Our men are poor and destitute, they are homeless and do not have a place to stay apart from the Mission, they are unemployed, and they do not have the resources and social safety-net that most of us have during a national emergency such as now.  We therefore need your help to keep the Mission open as a safe haven and refuge for our residents. 

        Please support us financially as generously as you can.  We know that many of you are also suffering from reduced income and increased expenses (e.g., child-care because the schools are closed).  But for those of you who are financially able, we really need your help.  Our thrift store income is taking a huge hit, our church speaking engagements are all canceled, churches and schools are not collecting food and other needed supplies for us because they are closed, and donations of leftover perishable food from supermarkets have decreased because people are over-buying food when they shop.  Above all, please pray for us.         

        By God’s mercy and grace, we know we will get through this.  I encourage you to read, rejoice, and rest in the truths of Psalm 46 – we will not be afraid, the Lord is with us. 

Pressing on with hope,

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ February 2020

Dear Friend of the Mission,

Our 2019 Christmas celebration at the Mission was wonderful! 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 2019 a delightfully amazing time at the Mission. Thank you for making Christmas for our men a time of celebration, joy and hope rather than a sad time filled with 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 all of 2019! You have given us money, 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. You do so much – it is impossible to send a thank you note for everything that you do for us, but if I could, I would thank each of you individually and in person. The Mission is ultimately not about programs or buildings, but it is about loving broken and hurting homeless men with the love of Jesus, giving them a hand-up and not just a handout, giving them a solid hope that changes their lives both now and forever. There are hundreds and even thousands of Mission graduates who are living good lives today because your gifts were used by the Lord to make a big difference in their lives through the Whosoever Gospel Mission.

With heartfelt thanks,


Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

    

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Cancelled – Night of Celebration – April 25th

UPDATE: Due to our efforts as a community to stop the spread of the coronavirus, we have cancelled our previously scheduled annual Night of Celebration that was to be held on April 25th, 2020 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Willow Grove, PA.

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From the Director ~ Christmas 2019

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Dear Friend of the Mission,

The Sears Christmas Wish Book! Every fall Sears would publish and mail out a special Christmas catalog filled with pictures of all sorts of wonderful toys. I grew up in the Tacony section of Philadelphia in the late 1950’s and 1960’s, and my brother, two sisters and I would eagerly look forward to the Sears Christmas Wish Book. To be honest, we would fuss and fight over who would look at it first. Since I was the baby of the family, I always got to look at it last. I always thought that was a bit unfair, but the Sears Christmas Wish Book was well worth waiting for. Of course, I knew that my parents couldn’t afford to buy me all of those amazing toys, but they were still fun to look at and imagine what it would be like to play with them.

Over the years I discovered and experienced for myself that Christmas is not about toys, cookies, and heart-warming Christmas movies (as much as I love them!). But rather, Christmas celebrates God’s greatest gift to us, the gift of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of you might recall that on Christmas Eve of last year, four Philadelphia Eagles football players and their families helped to serve our Christmas Eve luncheon to our men. When they first contacted me about doing this, they asked me to keep it really low key. They said it so well, Christmas is all about Jesus, and not them. Jesus is the famous one – not them.

The celebration of Jesus’ birth is filled with unimaginable joy – “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” Here at the Mission we want our men to experience the hope and joy of Jesus throughout the year and not just at Christmas. Christmas can be a rough holiday for our men. They feel like spectators watching everybody else having fun, but they are left out. They often feel a lot of regret and sadness because of the empty years that have passed them by. This is why we work hard to make Christmas extra special for our men. We want our men to know that God loves them, and that Christmas celebrates God’s love gift to us, the birth of His Son, Jesus.

As we quickly move toward the end of 2019, 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. 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).
  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 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.
  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 2020.
  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, 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.
  9. 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 2019 and begin 2020, 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 2019. Your generous support was wonderfully used by the Lord to impact 215 homeless men in 2019. 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,


Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ Thanksgiving 2019

Dear Friend of the Mission,

Thanksgiving at the Whosoever Gospel Mission is one of the highlights of my year.  We do Thanksgiving up big at the Mission!  On Thanksgiving Day, our dining room and chapel will be festively decorated.  We start off with a joy-filled Thanksgiving Day chapel service in which we give thanks to God for all that He has done for us this past year.  The heartfelt testimonies of our men, staff and volunteers are a celebration of God’s goodness and grace.  With 130-140 or more people in attendance, we then sit down and enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving Day Feast fit for a King (the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!).  Our Thanksgiving Day Feast includes roasted turkey, giblet gravy, three-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 almandine, buttered corn, rolls & butter, cranberry sauce, apple cider, and an amazing assortment of desserts – pies, cookies, brownies, cheesecake, and candy.  And our Feast is an all-you-can-eat meal!  We make sure that there is always enough food for seconds and even thirds.

And best of all, this delicious meal is provided for our men as part of our comprehensive and compassionate New Life Rehabilitation and Job Readiness Program.  Our men are working hard at the Mission every day to rebuild their lives and be restored to society as productive, contributing members of our community.  But Thanksgiving Day is not a day of work, it is a day of celebration and thanksgiving as our men reflect on all that God has done in and through and for them.  Thanksgiving Day for our men is a joyful Sabbath rest of celebration. 

Your support of the Mission helps to make possible the celebrations our men enjoy on Thanksgiving Day.  While we work on the front lines helping our men battle their way back from homelessness, addiction and poverty, your faithful and generous support gives us what we need to give our men a hand-up, and not just a hand-out.  Your gifts are a priceless investment in the lives of our men that will pay dividends for years to come.  As we celebrate Thanksgiving 2019, please accept my heartfelt thanks for your support.  Please pray and give generously.  Every gift counts and will be used to bless, equip and help our men move forward in life.

Thanking God for you!

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ October 2019

DearIMG_1576 Friend of the Mission,

When you support the Mission, you are opening up life-giving, life-changing and life-saving doors of opportunity to the broken and hurting homeless men who come to the Mission desperately seeking help. Our men are mired in deep poverty and come to the Mission with no resources, no money and no safety net of support from friends and family. But the Lord raised up the Whosoever Gospel Mission 127 years ago to stand in the gap for these men – to offer them a future and a hope. We are always grateful for your much needed financial support, but at this time of year, there are additional ways you can support us. Here are a few of those ways that will make a difference in the lives of our men.

The fall also marks the beginning of workplace giving campaigns. Many companies and government agencies ask their employees to contribute to their workplace giving campaigns. The happy news is that through your workplace giving campaign, you can designate your gift to the Whosoever Gospel Mission.

  • The United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey – donate to the Mission through United Way’s Donor Choice Program. 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 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, and the Benevity Community Impact Fund 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.

Your gifts are being used every day by the Lord to change lives! Thanks so much!

With joy and thanksgiving,

Bob signature

 

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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4 Ways to Help

IMG_9364New Unwrapped Toys & Gifts

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 for ages 0-18 (main gifts & stocking stuffers).

Deadline: Wednesday, December 18th
Call Heather (215 438 3094 x 103) by Dec. 9th to arrange for drop-off or pick-up.

IMG_8947Food & Gift Cards

We feast well at the Mission (and not just at Thanksgiving)! As relatives and friends of residents and staff join together as one family around warmly decorated tables on Thanksgiving Day, we enjoy amazing food, hearty laughter, sweet fellowship, and a shared sense of gratitude to the Lord.

Here’s how you can help:
Donate non-perishable food (canned goods, coffee, tea, etc.). Gift cards to supermarkets are also great for perishable items (especially Aldi and Walmart).

Call Heather (215 438 3094 x 103) to arrange for drop-off or pick-up.

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.

IMG_9494Gift 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: Monday, December 23rd
Call Heather (215 438 3094 x 103) to arrange for drop-off or pick-up.

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From the Director ~ September 2019

Bob Emberger, Executive Director

Bob Emberger, Executive Director

Our fiscal year ends on September 30, 2019 – help us end the year financially healthy!

Dear Friend of the Mission,

It is hard to believe that another fiscal year will soon end on September 30, 2019. Your wonderful support this past year has helped us to have a pretty stable year financially. I want to thank you for your kind and generous gifts which made this possible. As we come to the end of our fiscal year, please give an extra generous gift so we end our fiscal year in good financial shape. Ending the year well also gives us the go-ahead to give our staff much earned and needed raises. Because we had a financially challenging fiscal year ending September 30, 2018, we pretty much put a hold on staff raises this past year. We have a hard-working staff who are willing to work at the Mission for far less than what they can make elsewhere. Since routine staff raises were skipped for a year, we want to provide raises for our staff in our new fiscal year beginning October 1, 2019. Ending this fiscal year financially healthy helps us to do so. Thanks so much for whatever you can give!

Click here for our New Life Program flier – you can print and give it to a man experiencing homelessness. Feel free to call or email me (215-438-3094 ext. 102, or remberger@whosoevergospel.org) if you would like printed copies to share. This handout was put together by our residents a few years ago. We asked our residents the following: “Knowing what you know now about the Mission, what do you wish you knew when you were out there on the street that would have convinced you to come in sooner? What do you want guys who are out there now – men you think should come to the Mission – what do you want them to know?” The enclosed handout is what our men came up with. Every word and photo on the flier is something that one of our men insisted MUST be shown or shared. We think the attached flier is warm, welcoming and winsome – please give it away to a homeless man. Perhaps they will make their way to the Mission and find a new and abundant life to enjoy.

Thanks so much for your support. I am grateful for all that you do for our residents. Your gifts are making life-giving, life-changing and life-saving differences in the lives of our men.

Your friend and co-worker,

Bob signature

 

 

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

 

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From the Director ~ Summer 2019

IMG_8439Dear Friend of the Mission,

I trust that your summer has been a good one thus far. We do thank the Lord for our air conditioning. When we rebuilt the Mission after the arson fire of 2006, we decided to have our main dormitory building retrofitted with central air conditioning. This was one of the best decisions we made. Our dormitory building has thick stone walls made out of Wissahickon Schist – a kind of stone that used to be quarried in the Wissahickon Valley section of Philadelphia. A lot of buildings in Germantown, Mt. Airy, and Chestnut Hill are made out of Wissahickon Schist. This beautiful stone makes for a strong and sturdy building, but in the summertime after the walls heat up, our four-story dormitory building becomes unbearably hot. Fans blowing hot air around turn our dormitory into a huge convection oven. This is why we are so thankful for our central air conditioning. Our residents are especially grateful. The streets of Philly are dangerously hot in the summertime. Our men are grateful for a refreshingly cool place to live. Your gifts make our dormitory a cool oasis on a hot summer day.

As you know, we have a long-term residential program for homeless men. We typically operate at our 55-bed capacity year-round and often have a waiting list of men seeking to enter the New Life Program. Every week so far this summer, we have turned men away on almost a daily basis. If men call us, we may have to tell them we are full and put them on our waiting list. However, if a homeless man comes to the Mission, and we sadly have to tell him we are full, we give him a few things to help him along. We give him two tokens (we still have a supply of SEPTA tokens we can give out) – one to get to a shelter, and one to bring him back to the Mission when we have an open bed. We also give him a list of shelters he can go to until we have a bed for him. And then with a kind word of hope and encouragement, and usually a prayer, we give him a gift bag filled with hand sanitizer, a snack or two, a pair of socks, and other personal care items. We don’t let him leave empty-handed, and we encourage him to try to keep in touch with us so we can bring him into the New Life Program as quickly as possible.

The Mission is all about change and hope – real change and a true hope rooted in the love and kindness of God. Your generous gifts are used every day to keep the Mission cool in the summer, and to be a beacon of hope and help to all who stop by. Thanks for your support!

Serving with joy and hope,

Bob signature

 

 

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ June 2019

IMG_8339-001Dear Friend of the Mission,

Can you imagine being 50 years old and being unable to read? What a hardship and what a heartache. We actually did teach one of our residents who is 50 years old to read. It was a wonderful sight to see him stand up in chapel and read something publicly for the first time in his 50 years. Years ago we had another resident whom we taught how to read. For the first time in his life, George was able to read a story to his 9-year-old daughter. In 1991, we decided to implement a Learning Program to help our men with adult basic education, GED preparation, life skills, job readiness skills, and computer skills. In order to make our Learning Program as effective as possible, we were advised by educators who specialize in adult learning that our Learning Lab should be teacher based and computer assisted rather than computer based using proctors with no teachers with college degrees on-site. The Lord was gracious, and we were able to secure a multi-year grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew agreed that a teacher based Learning Lab was far better than a computer based Learning Lab. For 18 consecutive years beginning in 1992, Pew funded what became known as our Career Track Learning Program. We were sad when their funding priorities changed, and our funding from Pew was discontinued. Pew had given us about 1/3 of our funding needed to operate the Career Track Learning Program. The Lord made up the difference, though, and our Learning Program continues today even more effective and comprehensive than when it began in 1992.

Your gifts to us truly are an investment in the lives of the homeless men who live at the Mission. Each of our men is enrolled in our intensive Career Track Learning Program. Our Learning Program is designed to equip our men with the knowledge, skills and resources they need to get a good job and to achieve long-term success as productive members of our community. We view each of our men as wonderfully created in the image of God, and we strive to help each of them become all that the Lord wants them to be. Your gifts to the Mission are never used to give a hand-out to our men, they are always used to give a hand-up.

We are entering the summer months when our donor giving usually drops off a bit. Homelessness never takes a vacation, and we are just as full in the summer as in the winter – our 55 beds are typically filled. Please consider giving a larger than usual gift to help us get through the summer months in good financial shape. Thanks!

Working together with you,

Bob signature

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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