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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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 :)
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.
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 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!
The Sears Christmas Wish Book! Every fall Sears would publish and mail out a special Christmas catalog filled with pictures of all sorts of wonderful toys. I grew up in the Tacony section of Philadelphia in the late 1950’s and 1960’s, and my brother, two sisters and I would eagerly look forward to the Sears Christmas Wish Book. To be honest, we would fuss and fight over who would look at it first. Since I was the baby of the family, I always got to look at it last. I always thought that was a bit unfair, but the Sears Christmas Wish Book was well worth waiting for. Of course, I knew that my parents couldn’t afford to buy me all of those amazing toys, but they were still fun to look at and imagine what it would be like to play with them.
Over the years I discovered and experienced for myself that Christmas is not about toys, cookies, and heart-warming Christmas movies (as much as I love them!). But rather, Christmas celebrates God’s greatest gift to us, the gift of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of you might recall that on Christmas Eve of last year, four Philadelphia Eagles football players and their families helped to serve our Christmas Eve luncheon to our men. When they first contacted me about doing this, they asked me to keep it really low key. They said it so well, Christmas is all about Jesus, and not them. Jesus is the famous one – not them.
The celebration of Jesus’ birth is filled with unimaginable joy – “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” Here at the Mission we want our men to experience the hope and joy of Jesus throughout the year and not just at Christmas. Christmas can be a rough holiday for our men. They feel like spectators watching everybody else having fun, but they are left out. They often feel a lot of regret and sadness because of the empty years that have passed them by. This is why we work hard to make Christmas extra special for our men. We want our men to know that God loves them, and that Christmas celebrates God’s love gift to us, the birth of His Son, Jesus.
As we quickly move toward the end of 2019, please consider making a special gift to the Mission so that we can give our men the joy and hope of Christmas each and every day throughout the coming New Year. Here are several great ways you can help:
Give a generous year-end gift of cash. God will use your gift to impact and change lives.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
Save postage and time – you can go to our Whosoever Gospel Mission website to make an online donation. You can also set up a monthly recurring donation for 2020.
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.
Make a gift to the Mission through PayPal Giving Fund. Search “Donate with PayPal Giving Fund” or go to PayPal Giving Fund’s website: www.paypal.com/us/fundraiser/hub and search “Whosoever Gospel Mission.” We get the full value of your donation – PayPal doesn’t charge us any fees.
Christmas will be here and gone before we know it. But through your kind and generous support, the peace, hope and joy of Christmas will continue throughout the New Year in the lives of our men. Jesus is the reason for the season, but He is also our hope and joy for the rest of the year. Our men truly do thank you for your kind and generous support.
As we finish out 2019 and begin 2020, my prayer for you is that the Lord will abundantly bless you and your loved ones with good health, much happiness and great success in all of your endeavors. Thank you for standing with us in 2019. Your generous support was wonderfully used by the Lord to impact 215 homeless men in 2019. Your gift also impacted their families, their friends and society as a whole as our men became responsible, contributing members of our community. Your support made a big difference, and will continue to do so in the days ahead.
Thanksgiving at the Whosoever Gospel Mission is one of the highlights of my year. We do Thanksgiving up big at the Mission! On Thanksgiving Day, our dining room and chapel will be festively decorated. We start off with a joy-filled Thanksgiving Day chapel service in which we give thanks to God for all that He has done for us this past year. The heartfelt testimonies of our men, staff and volunteers are a celebration of God’s goodness and grace. With 130-140 or more people in attendance, we then sit down and enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving Day Feast fit for a King (the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!). Our Thanksgiving Day Feast includes roasted turkey, giblet gravy, three-cheese macaroni (which I make every year), creamy mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, savory stuffing with cranberries (which I also make from scratch every year), green beans almandine, buttered corn, rolls & butter, cranberry sauce, apple cider, and an amazing assortment of desserts – pies, cookies, brownies, cheesecake, and candy. And our Feast is an all-you-can-eat meal! We make sure that there is always enough food for seconds and even thirds.
And best of all, this delicious meal is provided for our men as part of our comprehensive and compassionate New Life Rehabilitation and Job Readiness Program. Our men are working hard at the Mission every day to rebuild their lives and be restored to society as productive, contributing members of our community. But Thanksgiving Day is not a day of work, it is a day of celebration and thanksgiving as our men reflect on all that God has done in and through and for them. Thanksgiving Day for our men is a joyful Sabbath rest of celebration.
Your support of the Mission helps to make possible the celebrations our men enjoy on Thanksgiving Day. While we work on the front lines helping our men battle their way back from homelessness, addiction and poverty, your faithful and generous support gives us what we need to give our men a hand-up, and not just a hand-out. Your gifts are a priceless investment in the lives of our men that will pay dividends for years to come. As we celebrate Thanksgiving 2019, please accept my heartfelt thanks for your support. Please pray and give generously. Every gift counts and will be used to bless, equip and help our men move forward in life.
The official registration and financial information of the Whosoever Gospel Mission and Rescue Home Association may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll free, within Pennsylvania, 1 (800) 732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.