Category Archives: From the Staff

4 Ways You Can Help!

IMG_7468New 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.

Here’s how you can help:
Buy new, unwrapped toys & gifts for ages 0-18 (main gifts & stocking-stuffers).

Deadline: Wednesday, December 19th
Call Heather at 215 438 3094 ext 103 to arrange for drop-off or pick-up.

IMG_7635Food & 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 at 215 438 3094 ext 103 to arrange for drop-off or pick-up.

AmazonSmile & PayPal Giving Fund

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:

PayPal Giving Fund: Search “Donate with Paypal Giving Fund” or go to PayPal Giving Fund’s website: We get the FULL value of your donation – PayPal doesn’t charge us any fees.

IMG_7796Gifts or 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 snacks, pocket calendars, pens, socks, or personal care items like tissues, lip balm, lotion, etc. (please don’t put soap in the same bag as food). Be creative!

Deadline: Friday, December 21st
Call Heather at 215 438 3094 ext 103 to arrange for drop-off or pick-up.

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From the Director ~ October 2018

Executive Director Bob Emberger with the peppers he just harvested from our garden

Executive Director Bob Emberger with the peppers he just harvested from our garden

Dear Friend of the Mission,

Your support of the Mission is an investment in the lives of our men. And as our men move from being unemployed and homeless to working and living independently in their own place, they in turn become productive, contributing members of our community who strengthen the very fabric of our society. We need your financial support because our men are destitute and come to the Mission with no resources, no money and no safety net of support from friends and family.

We are always grateful for your much needed financial support, but at this time of year, there are additional ways you can support us. Click here for a few of those ways that will bless and 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 you can designate your gift to the Whosoever Gospel Mission through your workplace giving campaign:

  • 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 and Network for Good 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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From the Director ~ September 2018

IMG_8339-001Dear Friend of the Mission,

Each of our men comes from a family. When we deal with homeless individuals, it is easy to forget that our men are not islands unto themselves, but rather they are in fact sons and fathers, brothers and cousins, husbands, nephews, uncles, grandfathers and grandsons.

This month’s true-story highlight tells a wonderful story of reconciliation and a restored relationship between one of our men and his father.

One of the benefits of serving at the Mission for almost 30 years is that I have the joy of seeing the Lord do wonderful things in healing, building, restoring and strengthening the relationships between our men and their families. Here are a few stories that especially warm my heart – these men are either graduates of the Mission or current residents:

  • The Mission’s staff teachers and volunteer tutors taught George how to read, and for the first time in his life he was able to read a story to his 9-year old daughter.
  • Robert is a single parent father who has raised from birth his daughter Helen. Helen is a delightful young lady doing well in school and is quite active in her church.
  • Greg is a great dad to his birth children and step-children. He has put one daughter through college and currently has two other children in college. Apart from Greg, these children perhaps never would have made it to college.
  • After years of suffering from her husband’s criminal activity and imprisonment, Norma divorced her husband, Tyrone. While incarcerated in Graterford Prison for multiple felonies, Tyrone turned his life over to the Lord through a prison ministry. Tyrone came to the Mission after prison, and we had the joy of helping him to reenter society as a good and godly man. The changes that Norma saw in Tyrone’s life were so great that she remarried him. Tyrone met grandchildren at his wedding that were born while he was in prison. There wasn’t a dry eye in the church!

Your gifts are being used to bless not just our men, but also their families!

With joy and gratitude,

Bob signature

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

P.S. Because of your wonderful generosity, our $90,000 deficit has been greatly reduced. Ending our fiscal year on September 30th without a cash deficit is within striking distance! Thank you for your continued prayers and on-going support. A miracle is in the making!

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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.


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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.


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 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: 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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