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4 Ways You Can Help this Holiday Season

New Unwrapped Toys & Gifts

Each year, homeless dads living at the Mission give gifts to hundreds of their kids & grandkids. For many men, it’s a first step toward reconnecting with family. See the joy of our toy giveaway firsthand here. We need your help again!

Here’s how you can help:
Buy new, unwrapped toys, stocking stuffers & gifts for ages 0-18 (especially gifts valued at $25 or less).

Deadline: Monday, December 11th
Call Tina at 215 438 3094 x 104 by Dec. 4th to arrange for drop-off or pick-up.

Gift Bags for 55 Men Experiencing Homelessness

Let our men know they are loved! Fill small party favor bags with special snacks, Christmas cookies, or with things like lotion, lip balm, tissues, etc. (please don’t mix food and soap).

Or, contribute towards larger gifts that we’re putting together for each resident. Call Heather at (215) 438-3094 x 103 to coordinate. We’re gathering things like umbrellas, laundry bags, portfolio folders, gift cards, thermal mugs, calendars, small personal storage containers & the like.

Deadline: Monday, Dec 18th
Call Tina at 215 438 3094 x 104 by Dec. 4th to arrange for drop-off or pick-up.

Dormitory Needs

We are always in need of the following items:

  • Large Bath Towels
  • Twin Sheet Sets (colors and patterns are great!)
  • Large Shower Shoes for Men
  • Full-size Bottles of Shampoo for Men
  • Laundry Bags/Collapsible Hampers
  • New Reusable Water Bottles
  • New Thermal Travel Mugs
  • Gel Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  • Foaming Tub and Tile Cleaner (in cans)

If ordering online, you can ship directly to the Mission at 101 E. Chelten Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19144.

Food Drives & Gift Cards

If you’d like to do a food drive for us, please call Heather at (215) 438-3094 x 103 for current needs.

We could also always use the following gift cards for perishable items and other urgent supply needs as they arise:

Walmart (also good at Sam’s Club)
Aldi
Giant
The Home Depot
Lowe’s Home Improvement
BJ’s Wholesale Club

Call Tina at 215 438 3094 x 104 to arrange for drop-off, pick-up, mail-in, or e-gift delivery.

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From the Director ~ July/August 2023

Dear friends,

Blessings to you! I hope you are finding some rest and renewal in the somewhat slower rhythms of summer. Here at the Mission, all of our classes and activities continue full-speed ahead. Just last week one of our residents, Kevin, took and passed two of the five HiSET exams needed to get his high school equivalency diploma. Others are working earnestly towards theirs. Eleven of our residents are currently employed and working on budgets to save up and move into their own place, while another eight men are currently seeking employment.

In the midst of all of the normal hustle and bustle of Mission life, we had the joy of pressing the pause button and setting apart Monday, June 19th this year for our first all-Mission Juneteenth celebration. We closed the thrift store and cancelled all classes and regular work, and we met together for a special program followed by a catered BBQ lunch from Sweet Lucy’s and a time of recreation and relaxation. Check out the next page for photos of the festivities.

For the program, Composer-Vocalist Ruth Naomi Floyd, along with Aaron Graves on piano and Lee W. Smith on double bass, shared a concert with historical and theological commentary about Juneteenth – the day in 1865 on which Union troops freed enslaved African Americans in Texas two months after the end of the Civil War (and 2½ years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation). Juneteenth has been celebrated as a holiday in Texas since the 1860s, and was made an official holiday of the State of Texas in 1980. But the story of Juneteenth has only recently made its way to some of us. As I’m sure you’re aware, it’s now a national holiday.

During this special concert, we were led on a journey through holy lament and defiant joy, considering what it means to reach for beauty in the midst of suffering. We looked at the real hope and joy that we find in Jesus, our Savior who knows what it is to suffer, because He suffered too. But suffering doesn’t get the final word. That’s why we celebrate! The concert ended with Ruth Naomi Floyd inviting us all to sing “O Happy Day” with her. The music was phenomenal – all three musicians are recording artists in their own right. As one gentleman shared afterwards, “you folks could have gone ANYWHERE today, but you’re here with us. Thank you.” Another resident who’s going through some heavy suffering of his own told me the next morning, “Yesterday, that was amazing. And last night, there was a peace that settled around here. You could feel it.”

I want to take this moment to pause and thank you for your part in making all of these things possible. Thank you for investing in the lives of our men, offering a hand-up to brothers in need, encouraging them to reach for beauty in the midst of hard things.

Grace and peace,

Heather L. Rice, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ June 2023

Dear friends,

I hope you’re enjoying the sunshine and warmth of these delightful days. It certainly makes my heart (and the flowers on my patio) happy. Today was especially warm and sunny, which made tonight’s dessert an extra welcome treat – brownie sundaes, compliments of the church that joined us for dinner and chapel this evening. Speaking of desserts – we like them, a lot! If you ever want to bake some brownies, cookies, cupcakes, lemon squares, or the like, and drop them off at the Mission, you’d make our men very happy indeed! We’d also love your excess garden produce – we serve a fresh salad at every lunch and dinner.

Our meal times are so important. They’re about more than just food. A great meal is a welcome treat in the midst of really hard work. The hard work our guys are laboring through isn’t just physical. It’s also social, spiritual, mental, and emotional. It’s learning and relearning how to process the past and deep hurts they have suffered. It’s retraining our bodies to get up in the morning and follow a schedule, to eat well, and to get sleep. It’s practicing forgiveness and extending grace to others in relationship, even as we learn to receive forgiveness and grace ourselves. It’s starting new habits and exercising self-discipline. It’s building relationships with people and no longer trying to do life alone. It’s learning to live together in community.

This togetherness is essential to the success of every man that comes to the Mission for help. Often, when a man first arrives at the Mission, he’s thinking only of his most immediate needs – food, shelter, clothing, addiction recovery, or maybe employment. But as he comes and settles in his dorm room and starts to engage in the New Life Program, the Mission family begins to envelop him in community life. We develop real relationships with one another. We eat and laugh together. We pray and worship together. We cry and seek the Lord together.

It’s not a one-way street. As we do these things, we encourage and build one another up. Together, the men, staff and volunteers build up and encourage each other. For an example of what this looks like, check out this story about one of our current residents, Dave, and his counselor, Steve. This is what community looks like. We need each other. Thank you for being a part of our community, and for your continued support through these summer months (especially with the high cost of cooling our buildings!). Because of you, we are stronger.

The Lord bless you and yours with rich and life-giving community.

Grace and peace,

Heather L. Rice, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ April 2023

Dear Friends,

We are so grateful for you and for all of the ways you come alongside us to help and bless and lift up the men who come to the Mission looking to rebuild their lives. Your prayers and financial support, the special meals your provide, the items you send in from our needs list, the hours you volunteer, the information you share about available resources and job openings, and so many other things – the Lord uses all of it to restore men to homes and families and jobs and life. We couldn’t do it alone. Thank you!

Please pray for a specific need we have for a few tech-savvy volunteer tutors who can come in for a couple hours during the day each week and sit with a gentleman in our computer lab to help him fill out online job applications. If you’re interested in exploring this volunteer opportunity yourself, please give me a call at (215) 438-3094 x 103. Thanks!

Computers are a gateway to so many things these days. But for people experiencing homelessness, many times, that gateway is locked. Reliable internet access from an actual PC (rather than just a smart phone), along a with a good printer (not to mention a supply of toner and paper), is critical for successfully connecting with many resources, supports and services. But access isn’t enough. You have to know your way around. If you weren’t born into the generation that lives and breathes technology, using a PC for the first time can be difficult. It’s like trying to find your way in a foreign land where you don’t know the language. Still, using a computer is necessary for everything from creating a resume and applying for a job, to doing online banking, balancing a personal budget with a spreadsheet, downloading pay stubs, and so much more.

That’s why we not only keep our computer lab well-stocked and up-to-date with the latest equipment and software, but we also teach every man who enters the New Life Program how to use a computer. We have a 4-week Introduction to Computers class as well as more advanced classes, incentives to spend time in online typing tutorials, and individualized coaching. When Moses first came into the New Life Program, he was terrified of computers. He laughs when he recalls how afraid he was to even touch one! Now, Moses is on staff with us, and he encourages new men not to be afraid. He assures them that if he can learn, then they can, too!

Thank you again for partnering with us to share God’s love in words and in actions. We thank God for you! The Lord richly bless you and yours with His mercy, love and grace!

Grace and peace,

Heather L. Rice, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ July/August 2022

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Germantown where the Lord continues to do great things! Sometimes those things are big and loud. Other times they’re quiet and subtle. But we rejoice in them all. We celebrated with two New Life Program graduates who just moved into their own places this past month. Another gentleman was invited to his 7-year-old daughter’s kindergarten graduation. He made her a card and a ticket for one free movie outing with dad (which she redeemed that very afternoon!). They had a lovely daddy/daughter date. There’s much to celebrate.

The Lord has also been working in the heavier, harder things. Two of our residents recently lost loved ones. Another man received a tough medical diagnosis. Each of these men has stayed through the trial thus far. They are plugging into community and reaching out for help rather than running away to hide or relying on old habits to numb the pain. We rejoice in this good work of God, too, even while we grieve, pray, love, and hope.

And then there are the men who just keep plugging away through the ordinary obstacles of life. They’re choosing to keep on doing one right thing after another and trusting God to bless and provide. Will is one such gentleman. He recently shared a bit of his story. You can read it here. I think you’ll enjoy it (especially if you like Tastykakes). I certainly do.

My late dad was a Tastykake guy for most of his career. One evening, when I was little, we were all sitting around the dinner table after dad got home from work. When we had finished, he said “Hey Heather, I have something for you in my jacket pocket.” I excitedly ran to the next room and fished in his pocket for what I was sure would be a banana creamie, my favorite Tastykake at the time (they don’t make them anymore!). Instead, it was a digital Cabbage Patch Kid watch with a purple leather band that he picked up from a guy on his route. I declared “A Cabbage Patch Kid watch! That was my next guess!” After my parents finished laughing, my dad said “No it wasn’t! You didn’t even know such a thing existed until now!” He had a point.

When I saw that watch, I realized it’s what I would have wanted, if only I knew it existed. Often, it’s the same way here at the Mission. Men come looking for one thing – help overcoming an addiction, getting a job, or a place to stay. But then they encounter the love of Jesus and realize that God wants to give them so much more – peace, joy, forgiveness, hope, and a good future. Thanks for your part in helping men find not only what they came for, but so much more.

Grace and peace,

Heather L. Rice, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ May 2022

Dear Friends,

Blessings to you and yours! As I think about the “yours” of that last phrase, I think about family – both family by blood and family by love. Sometimes, in the brokenness of this world, families drift apart. Addiction, homelessness, and incarceration, among other challenges, have a way of driving families apart even farther. It can get lonely. But thankfully, the Lord delights to place those who are lonely in families. Psalm 68:5-6 says it this way, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, He leads forth the prisoners with singing…” This is what He does at the Mission all the time!

There is healing that happens in relationship. As men come to the Mission and form deep bonds of love and friendship with fellow residents, the Lord has a way of lessening the loneliness. Many times, as men grow and change while working hard to rebuild their lives at the Mission, opportunities to reconnect with long lost family arise. But when that happens, sometimes it comes with new waves of grief. Some men reconnect with family only to find out that while they were lost to the streets or their addiction, a loved one died, and they are now buried and gone. Sometimes that loved one is a parent or grandparent, or perhaps an aunt who raised them.

Our own Rev. Dr. Bob Emberger’s sister, Kay, recently passed away. Keep him in prayer. Losing a loved one is always hard, but it’s especially difficult to officiate at their funeral as Bob did for Kay. By God’s grace, the Embergers are blessed with the gift of family in the midst of their grief, including a brother/uncle/father/cousin in Bob who could minister to them and point them to the sustaining love of Jesus in the midst of their sorrow. But imagine the added layer of sorrow for someone who misses out on the support that comes from being together as a family in the midst of their grief. When this happens to our men, they are left to grieve alone. It’s at times like these that the Mission family naturally and spontaneously reaches out to surround and uphold their brother. They encourage and help one another like family.

Thank you for your part in making it possible for the Mission to be such a safe, rich, and nurturing family. May God bless and keep you and yours!

Grace and peace,

Heather L. Rice, D.Min.
Executive Director

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2021 Christmas Photos

We were blessed this Christmas! At our toy giveaway, New Life Program dads selected and wrapped gifts for their kids and grandkids. And then on Christmas Eve, the men received lots of presents themselves!

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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, and stocking stuffers for ages 0-18 (especially gifts valued at $25 or less).

Deadline: Monday, December 13th
Call Heather (215 438 3094 x 103) by Dec. 6th to arrange for drop-off or pick-up.

IMG_8947Grocery & Supply Gift Cards

We already have several food drives lined up with local schools, churches and other groups throughout the Fall. But we could really use the following gift cards for perishable items and other urgent supply needs as they arise:

Walmart (also good to use at Sam’s Club)
Aldi
Giant
The Home Depot
Lowe’s Home Improvement
BJ’s Wholesale Club

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

AmazonSmile & PayPal Giving

AmazonSmile: Donate at NO EXTRA COST to you! Make your online Amazon purchases through AmazonSmile & designate the Whosoever Gospel Mission as your charity of choice – you’ll pay the same price but a percentage of your purchase will be donated to us! To register, go to: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/23-1352579

PayPal Giving Fund: Search “Donate with Paypal Giving Fund” or go to PayPal Giving Fund’s website: paypal.com/us/fundraiser/hub and search “Whosoever Gospel Mission.” We get the FULL value of your donation – PayPal doesn’t charge us any fees.

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: Wednesday, December 22nd
Call Heather (215 438 3094 x 103) by December 6th to arrange for drop-off or pick-up.

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From the Director ~ October 2021

Dear Friend of the Mission,

This past year has been a challenging roller coaster of a ride for the Mission with COVID still with us. But through it all, our doors stayed open to welcome with kindness and hope broken and hurting homeless men. We never closed. And through it all, you kept us going.

As we come to the holidays, we need your help. Click here for some of the ways you can make a big difference in the lives of our men. The fall also marks the beginning of 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, the Benevity Community Impact Fund and the Blackbaud Giving Fund as well as others provide administrative services for several workplace giving campaigns throughout the country – check with your company’s workplace giving coordinator to find out how you can designate your gift to the Mission if your workplace uses one of these organizations to conduct their giving campaign.
  • Matching Gift Programs – many companies will match their employees’ gifts to a non-profit dollar for dollar. Check with your employer to see if they have a Matching Gift Program. You can double your gift to the Mission at no additional cost to you.

Your gifts are being used every day to give life and hope to our men, along with a smile, some good fun, and the powerful medicine of laughter. Thanks so much!

Pressing on with joy and hope,

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ September 2021

Thank you for your prayers, your support and your friendship!

Dear Friend of the Mission,

Our current fiscal year, October 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021, has at times been a wild roller coaster ride. The COVID-19 pandemic continued to profoundly impact the Mission in our daily operations (e.g., no volunteer youth groups, required mask wearing and social distancing, no outside churches conducting chapel services or providing special dinners, COVID testing for residents and staff, quarantine and isolation rooms for residents infected with COVID or waiting for their test results, etc.). The Mission itself suffered its own COVID outbreak in December with 7 residents and 6 staff members getting sick; our counselor Joe McAvinney and I were hospitalized, Joe for 8 days and me for 6 days. On a personal note, I had a lot of medical tests and procedures in the first part of 2021 and ended up having major open heart surgery on May 14th to replace my prematurely worn out artificial aortic valve (I am still recovering from the surgery and not yet back to my pre-surgery work schedule). And sadly, we got word that 6 of our former residents/graduates died this past year; two of them were former staff members.

But through all of this, God was faithful, and you, our friends, stood with us. On behalf of the Whosoever Gospel Mission, please accept my heartfelt thanks for your fervent prayers, your generous support, and your encouraging friendship. Our fiscal year ends on September 30, 2021. Thank you for helping us to weather a stormy year, and to also celebrate with us all of the good things that happened in and through the Mission in spite of these hardships. We were able to share God’s love in word and deed with the 45-55 homeless men who lived at the Mission on any given day. Our services to our residents were never interrupted. In fact, they even increased. One of our newest initiatives is to provide 50% of a man’s security deposit for an apartment when he is ready to graduate. Many of our men need to pay 2-3 months’ rent up-front as a security deposit to move into their own apartment. We feel compelled by the love of Jesus to help our men with this huge expense. Not all of our residents graduate, but those who do will be helped in a huge way. We are hoping to get foundation grants and donations from friends such as you to fund this new endeavor to secure decent housing for our graduates.

In closing, I want to give a shout out to all of our staff who kept the Mission going throughout all of these troubles and trials. Not one staff member ever complained or failed to show up for work. I want to give special recognition to Dr. Heather L. Rice, our Associate Executive Director, who has so aptly directed the Mission during my convalescence. Heather first started volunteering at the Mission as a freshman at Central High School in 1993. She earned her bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees while working at the Mission. She even turned down a full scholarship as a full-time student working on a PhD at Temple University in order to continue working at the Mission while going to school part time for her doctorate. Heather has faithfully served at the Mission for 28 years and is poised to be my successor as Executive Director when I retire from full-time ministry in less than two years. She has already even offered me a part-time job!

Thank you again for standing with us this past year. As we end our fiscal year on September 30th and begin our new fiscal year on October 1st, we need your continued prayers, your continued financial support, and your continued friendship. We will be sure to celebrate with you all of the good things that the Lord will accomplish in and through the Whosoever Gospel Mission.

With gratitude and joy,

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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