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From the Associate Director ~ July 2021

Dear Friend of the 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

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From the Director ~ May 2021

Dear Friend of the Mission,

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

Resting in the love of Jesus,

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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A COVID Christmas Update

Here at the Mission, we’ve had a different holiday season than we anticipated! Five residents and six staff members all contracted COVID in December. The Lord has very mercifully been teaching us that when we are weak, then He is strong! We are happy to report good news all around.

Executive director Bob Emberger was among the sick and was hospitalized for 6 days of treatment. He has responded well and is back to the Mission as he continues to build up his stamina.

The other staff who had been infected are all doing well and are either officially back to work or scheduled to be so within a week. All of our sick residents have recovered and as of today, we have no known COVID cases onsite! All tremendous answers to prayer!!!

Now, we can look to rescheduling our special Christmas lunch and give out the rest of the wonderful gifts everyone collected for our residents! Stay tuned for photos of our delayed Christmas festivities (safely distanced, of course!) in the next couple of weeks. We think we’ll leave our trees up in the chapel and lobby until then!

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From the Director ~ Christmas 2020

Dear Friend of the Mission,

I love Christmas! I love the cookies, the decorations, the glorious Christmas carols (Hark! The Herald Angels Sing is my favorite!), the fun and festive music of the season (Deck the Halls!), the sparkling lights, special gatherings with friends and family, my children and grandchildren traveling from all over the country back home to Philadelphia to celebrate Christmas with my wife and me, special chapels and dinners at the Mission provided by visiting churches, the giving and receiving of gifts, special church services packed with people, and of course my favorite Christmas movies – the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is by far my favorite (I have about 12 versions of it including the Muppet Christmas Carol!). I especially love preaching at Christmas. I never get tired of the Christmas story, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!” (Luke 2:11).

Because of COVID-19, in so many ways this Christmas will be quite a bit different from other Christmases. There will be smaller and even canceled church services, none of my children or grandchildren traveling from afar to come home for Christmas, no special gatherings with friends and family, no special chapels and dinners at the Mission provided by visiting churches, and no hearty singing of Christmas carols in the Mission’s chapels. I will miss these things, but I still rejoice that the heart of Christmas remains the same even during a pandemic: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!” A virus may be able to take away many of the external trappings of Christmas – large church services, special gatherings and fun festivities with friends and family – but it cannot take away what Christmas is truly all about – “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” May you and yours experience the joy and wonder of Christmas 2020. With the pandemic surging around the country, the angel’s words to the shepherds carry extra weight and hope, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people…” (Luke 2:10). And in spite of the pandemic, I am still going to eat some Christmas cookies, watch the Christmas Carol, and joyfully sing in my own house, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!”

As we quickly move toward the end of 2020, 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. 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.
  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 2021.
  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/huband 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 2020 and begin 2021, 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. COVID-19 made 2020 a very hard and challenging year 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 184 broken and hurting homeless men who lived at the Mission in 2020. Your gift also blessed their families, their friends and society as a whole as our men became responsible, contributing members of our community.

Wishing you the joy and hope of Christmas,

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ Thanksgiving 2020

Executive Director Bob Emberger making his famous 10-cheese Mac & Cheese for our Thanksgiving Feast

Dear Friend of the Mission,

Because of COVID-19, our Thanksgiving Day celebration is going to be quite a bit different this year. We normally have a big crowd of 130-140 people – our residents, volunteers, friends of the Mission, New Life Program graduates, staff members, and family members of our staff and residents. I have celebrated 31 Thanksgivings at the Mission, and it 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-19 possibly being brought unknowingly into the Mission by an asymptomatic visitor, we are going to limit our Thanksgiving Day celebration to just our 55 residents and a few staff. A good number of our residents are medically vulnerable – they would probably die if they caught COVID-19. So the most loving thing we can do is to be extra, extra careful for their sake.

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.

With the relentless COVID-19 pandemic and all of the turmoil and trouble in our country, we work hard every day to make the Mission a safe haven and a peaceable refuge for all of our men. Recently in one of our Overcomers meetings (i.e., our drug and alcohol support groups), one of our residents shared his testimony. He thanked the Lord for the peace and quiet of the Mission in contrast to “the craziness that is going on out there in the streets.”

Thank you for your support which makes it possible for our men to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving Day feast in a safe and peaceable home. And because of your support, the Mission is a refuge and safe haven from the “craziness of the streets” not just on Thanksgiving Day, but 365 days a year. As we celebrate Thanksgiving 2020, we give thanks to the Lord for you as a friend and for your kind and generous support. Please pray and give generously. Every gift counts and will be used to bless, encourage, 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 2020

Dear Friend of the Mission,

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly thrown a few curve balls at the Mission. But we are still open, and we are still providing, without interruption or cutbacks, on-site housing and help for up to 55 broken and hurting homeless men on any given day. We are deeply grateful for your much needed financial support. But at this time of year, there are additional ways you can support us. The enclosed handout highlights a few of those ways that will make a wonderful 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 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, 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.
  • 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 by the Lord to change lives! Thanks so much!

With joy and thanksgiving,

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ June 2020

Dear Friend of the Mission,

Because of your kind and generous support, our ministry to homeless men is going strong in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to operate at our 55-bed capacity, we continue to serve three delicious and nutritious meals a day, our Overcomers drug and alcohol meetings are held twice a week, all of our men have a scheduled counseling session at least once a week, tutoring and classes are still conducted with face masks and social distancing, we still have chapel services (although we have divided our men into smaller groups so our men can spread out in chapel and maintain social distancing), seven of our men are employed, and best of all, as of the date of this letter, not one resident or staff member has gotten sick with COVID-19. Our residents and staff are working hard to keep COVID-19 out of the Mission, and by God’s grace and mercy, everyone has stayed healthy. Please continue to pray with us that we get through this pandemic without one case of COVID-19 in the Mission.

I have so much to thank you for during these challenging and difficult days. You have been a friend that sticks closer than a sister or brother. Thank you for your financial support, for your prayers, for masks that you made for our residents and staff, for food donations, for donations of retail gift cards, for encouraging emails, cards, texts and Facebook postings; for donations of paper products and cleaning supplies, for special dinners purchased for our men from a Germantown pizzeria, for holding onto your thrift store donations until we are permitted to reopen our two stores, for sending additional financial gifts to the Mission to make sure we can pay our bills, for making up Blessing Bags filled with treats for our men, and for letting us know in so many ways that you are with us and for us – that we are not facing this pandemic alone. The Lord promises to never leave us or forsake us. I think one of the ways that God fulfills that promise is through friends such as you who stand with us during such a trying time as this.

I especially want to thank you for your patience in receiving our thank you letters and receipts for your gifts. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, everything takes longer to do – nothing is easy. And every day is filled with unexpected challenges. There is many a night that I am still awake in the wee hours of the morning weighed down with concerns over the present and future welfare of the Mission. And thankfully, the Lord gently reminds me to cast my burdens upon Him – His shoulders are bigger than mine. I thank the Lord for that truth! Thank you for helping us to “keep on keeping on.” We are pressing on to better days. Please find enclosed a wonderfully creative photo from one of our residents that is all about joy!

Working together with you,

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

Please check out this wonderfully creative photo from one of our residents that is all about joy!

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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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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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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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