Category Archives: Real Stories

Congrats Grads!

“Run Hah-Dah!”

That’s “run harder!” with the Brooklyn accent of Bob Emberger’s cross-country coach, Phil Golden, from Lincoln High School in the 1970s. It’s also the charge we share with men as they graduate from the New Life Program, based on Hebrews 12:1-2.

Coach Golden would tell his runners to keep looking at him. Don’t look to the right or to the left. Don’t look behind you. Just look straight ahead, and run harder!

Running the race of life is similar. In the battle to overcome addictions and navigate life’s obstacles, we need to keep our eyes focused on Jesus. Don’t get distracted by what other people are doing. Just keep running with your eyes on Jesus who delights in responding with “well done!”

Recently, we had the joy of celebrating the graduations of Ed, Mark, Lamont, and Ray. Each one’s life is a testimony of perseverance as they worked through obstacles and pressed on toward the goal. And they’re still running the race today!

May we all, by God’s grace, keep our eyes on the Lord and “run hah-dah!”

Ray at his graduation with Executive Director Heather Rice and Director of Advancement Bob Emberger.

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A Christmas Thank You Note

New Life Program resident Michael shares this thank you note with our Mission family and friends for all of the wonderful gifts we received this Christmas!

Dear Friends,

We here at the Whosoever Gospel Mission are still overwhelmed with gratitude for how blessed our Christmas was. With everything we have faced all year long, it felt amazing to be acknowledged and appreciated. Because of you, we were able to put smiles on our little ones’ faces. And there were even gifts for us!

We can’t stop thinking about how the Mission presented us with these wonderful gifts. We were spoiled. The setup was beautiful, and our whole day was festive. There was a beautiful layout of food along with the gifts. We will never forget this.

You all reminded us that we matter in not only God’s eyes, but also in the eyes of others. To everyone who contributed to making our Christmas special, you gave us an extra push to continue on this path of victory, triumph and happiness. From the bottom of our joyous hearts, thank you!

~Michael

Gifts for the Men of the New Life Program

Each resident received more than a dozen personal gifts on Christmas Eve. We even had extra gifts to give to the new men who continue to come in after the holiday.

Toys for Men’s Children

This year, 42 residents and grads selected and wrapped about 1,000 gifts for 163 of their children and grandchildren. Gifts included toys, puzzles, books, stocking stuffers, stuffed animals, hats, gloves, & scarves. Continue to pray that the Lord would bless our men and their children and families! We were also able to bless some other local children with gifts for a total of 329 kids!

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“Carry On”

“Carry on!” That’s Mark’s trademark phrase. It means, “We’re on the same page. We’ve got a plan. Something good is in the works.” As our dorm supervisor, it often comes out as a word of hope after stopping to pray with and encourage someone who’s struggling after-hours in the dorms.

Mark isn’t unfamiliar with the struggle. He came to the Mission homeless and addicted himself. But through the work of Jesus in his life, Mark is a new man. Before coming, he was adrift. “Every time I looked up, I was further behind than before.” Then he came to the Mission and he found the structure, love, community, and direction he needed.

His family stopped worrying about him and started allowing him to hang around and get close, especially to his grandkids. They saw that he was changed. They knew he was safe. Now, those grands are his joy! They mean the world to him, and he means the world to them!

Today, his passion is to bless, encourage, and help everyone he can in any way he can. Mark’s presence here at the Mission is a big part of how we show the love of Jesus to the men who come looking for help and hope.

Mark is always looking for ways to bless and encourage others. He spared no expense out of his own pocket to provide the men this amazing feast Memorial Day weekend.
Mark is always looking for ways to bless and encourage others. He spared no expense out of his own pocket to provide the men this amazing feast Memorial Day weekend.
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Meet Moses

If you’ve visited one of our thrift shops in the past couple years, chances are you’ve met Moses.

Moses came to the Mission in October of 2017, just a few days after his father passed away in his arms. His wife had died of an illness several years before that.

Unable to sustain the rent, after years of taking care of his loved ones, Moses knew he needed a new beginning. He donated his dad’s furniture to the Mission, then came that very afternoon to enter the New Life Program.

For Moses, the counseling and chapels were life changing. The Mission eventually hired Moses to work in the thrift shop where he’s since risen to manager.

After graduating, he moved into his own place and continues to serve full-time at the Mission. He sees his ministry as one of helping the men who come to the Mission realize that they are loved, and that they too can have a good future because Jesus can and does make all things new.

His family sees the difference. His mom recently said “Moses, now you know what God intends for you to be. How does it feel to be part of something greater than yourself?”

Moses’ answer? Good. Very good. “It feels like home, like it’s where God meant for me to be all along.”

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Jerry’s Story: An Update

Jerry wants to thank everyone for their prayers! He has some good news to share.

A little over a week ago, we shared that Jerry had been excitedly apartment hunting, enjoying his work as an upholsterer, and getting ready to graduate from the Mission and move into his own place when it all fell through because of COVID-19.

Jerry was grateful to God that he hadn’t moved out of the Mission yet – otherwise, he’ be facing homelessness again.

The good news: Jerry just got word that his application was accepted for a lovely apartment. His move in date is tentatively May 1st.

Thanks for sharing God’s love with men like Jerry through your prayers and support!

If you’d like to give, you can donate here online. Thank you to all who have given so sacrificially! With our thrift shops closed because of the pandemic, every extra gift helps us to continue to provide shelter, food, clothing, and spiritual and social support to over 50 men currently experiencing homeless.

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Breaking Bread

Food is necessary for survival. But good food, when shared in community around a common table, is life giving.

We have the joy of witnessing this reality often. Meal times are a highlight at the Mission. We serve three all-you-can-eat, high-quality meals every single day. Men laboring hard to rebuild their lives find friendship, encouragement, and camaraderie around our tables.

We always eat well. But now and again, we have friends who come to the Mission to provide an extra special treat. These friends might have vastly different backgrounds and cultures from the homeless men they’ve come to serve, but those differences melt away when the food is dished out and everyone sits down to eat, laugh, and talk together.

Fellowship happens, community is built, and volunteers and Mission guests are mutually encouraged. We learn from each other. We grow together.

Sometimes, all it takes to start breaking down personal walls of isolation, prejudice, fear, and the like are the little touches – the fresh flowers, the heart-shaped balloons, that extravagant, costly cut of meat, grandma’s homemade recipe – and a willingness to get some food stuck in your teeth :)

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2019 Toy Giveaway Video

A peek at this Christmas’ toy giveaway. Mission residents and grads gave over 1,200 gifts to 236 of their children. That’s 236 little hearts being blessed with the gift of a dad or grandpop this Christmas. A big thank you to all who made it possible!

The Whosoever Gospel Mission 2019 Toy Give Away from John Purring on Vimeo.

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Gifts that Keep Giving

The day after Christmas, one resident shared that he selected little journals and pens for his kids as stocking-stuffers at our toy giveaway to go along with the bigger toys he picked. After the kids unwrapped their presents Christmas morning in the company of their dad, they wrote in their journals. He happened to see what they wrote, and it went something like this: “I’m so happy with all my presents! But I’m REALLY happy that my dad is here!!”

This is one dad who wants to thank all of you who gave gifts and toys to the Mission. He’s amazed that anyone would be so kind. He’s incredibly grateful. And now, he is more determined than ever to stay the course and do what he needs to do to provide a safe, stable, and nurturing family for his children.

Many other dads reconnected with their kids this Christmas through the Mission’s toy and gift giveaway. Men in the New Life Program lovingly selected gifts free of charge for their children and grandchildren. An army of volunteers helped men wrap over 1,500 gifts for 415 children!

Thank you for investing in families!!

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Starting out on the right foot

Greg works on the computerAll of the men enrolled in the Mission’s New Life Program are working VERY hard.

In the Foundations Phase of the New Life Program (the first three months), between classes, tutoring, counseling, homework, D&A recovery meetings, and hands-on workforce development opportunities, each man is involved in about 50-54 hours each week of programmed activity.

When he graduates from the Foundations Phase of the Program and moves into the Careers Phase, he begins his job search or starts attending school outside of the Mission. Right now, Jerome is at Lincoln Tech studying automotive repair, George is at the Philadelphia Technician Training Institute studying welding, Akil is at Orleans’ Technical Institute for property maintenance and repair, and Mike is in a culinary training program at Philabundance Community Kitchen. These four men will begin their job search after they graduate from school.Jason in the thrift shop

Once a man finds full-time work, he stays at the Mission for another 3 months so he can budget and save, mapping out a plan for the future. He graduates from the Mission when he moves out into his own permanent housing.

The 6-9 months (or longer) that a gentleman spends at the Mission in the New Life Program represents a lot of hard work with a heaping dose of perseverance!

Chapel with Dr. BobWith all of this going on, we start each day with a hearty breakfast and good coffee (with real half & half, thanks to a friend of the Mission!), followed by a spiritual feast. Right after breakfast, Monday – Saturday, we gather in the chapel at 8:00 am to get our footing for the day. It’s a time to pause before the busyness of life gets rolling again and set our hearts and minds on the Lord and his grace. It’s a time to be reminded that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, and that his mercies never come to an end. That mercy and love – they are new and available for us today, no matter what happened yesterday. And so, together, we press on!

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Learning Program Highlights

 A word from our students

Mike proudly displays the "A" he received on his homework assignment

Mike proudly displays the “A” he received on his homework assignment

Mike: I love the Learning Program. My typing speed has improved from 30 characters per minute to 71, and I’m getting all A’s and B’s in my classes. I got my GED in 1994 but it’s been years since I’ve been in school. This is encouraging me to go on to cooking school and become a chef.

Eugene: Being in the lab makes me feel comfortable, and I love it because the teachers really want to help me – not just as a student but as a person.

 The Career Track Learning Program

The Career Track Learning Program is the educational component of the Whosoever Gospel Mission’s residential New Life Program for homeless men. The Mission’s teachers work together with each resident to craft an individualized learning plan based on his test scores, educational history, and his own personal goals to help him secure and flourish in a good job.

Eugene (right) works with Learning Program Director, Jason, on Vocational Discovery

Eugene (right) works with Learning Program Director, Jason, on Vocational Discovery

Our top-notch team of highly qualified and gifted teachers works together with a wonderful group of dedicated volunteer tutors to come alongside each man in the New Life Program to help him achieve his goals.

Formerly homeless men are equipped by God’s grace to succeed in the workplace and in life with weekly classes, one-on-one tutoring, extensive access to a state-of-the-art computer lab staffed by teachers, and an abundance of other resources right at their fingertips. New worlds of opportunity open up to men who are working hard to get back on their feet. Thanks for being a part of the Mission family and helping to open a bright new future to men who are ready for change!

Course Offerings:

Monday:
Professional & Vocational Development
Applied Math

Tuesday:
GED Prep 1
Overcomers (Addiction Recovery Support)
Communication Workshop
Inductive Bible Study – Group A
Communication Skills

Wednesday:
Introduction to Computers
Life Skills
College Skills
Math Processes
GED Prep 2
Math Foundations
Bible Research & Reflection

Thursday:
Inductive Bible Study – Group B
Computers
Overcomers (Addiction Recovery Support)

Computer Lab Hours:

Monday: 9:30 AM – 9:30 PM
Tuesday: 9:30 AM – 9:30 PM
Wednesday: 9:00 AM – 9:30 PM
Thursday: 9:30 AM – 9:30 PM
Friday: 9:30 AM – 4:15 PM
Saturday: 9:30 AM – 12:00 Noon

Individual Tutoring:

18 volunteers + 3 staff teachers provide 50+ hours of individual tutoring sessions each week to students.

Want to volunteer as a tutor? Call Heather at (215) 438-3094 x 103

Pictured below:
Learning Program awards received by students in the spring of 2019

Learning Program Awards March 2019

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