Northeast Times

Rotary Club hears hope from Whosoever Gospel Mission

The folks at the Who­so­ever Gos­pel Mis­sion like to say they’ve been giv­ing hope and chan­ging lives since 1892.

Ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or Robert Em­ber­ger and ex­ec­ut­ive as­sist­ant Heath­er Rice spoke about the or­gan­iz­a­tion at a re­cent meet­ing of the Rotary Club of Frank­ford-North­east.

The mis­sion is based at 101 E. Chel­ten Ave. in Ger­man­town. It was es­tab­lished 120 years ago by a re­covered al­co­hol­ic who wanted to help “the least, the last and the lost.”

The fo­cus is on provid­ing home­less men with meals, lodging, clothes, coun­sel­ing, edu­ca­tion, trans­port­a­tion, work ex­per­i­ence and oth­er as­sist­ance.

“It’s a com­pre­hens­ive soup-to-nuts pro­gram,” said Em­ber­ger, a Fox Chase res­id­ent.

Ser­vices are free. The mis­sion re­ceives no gov­ern­ment help.

A por­tion of its budget comes from two thrift stores, in­clud­ing the Light­house Thrift Shop at 6515 Rising Sun Ave. in Lawndale. The pub­lic can donate clothes and house­hold items Mondays through Sat­urdays from 9:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Gently used chil­dren’s coats can also be donated at Food Ba­sics (8920 Frank­ford Ave.), Wal­greens (8828 Frank­ford Ave.) and Holmes­burg Baptist Chris­ti­an Academy (7927 Frank­ford Ave.).

Em­ber­ger has been with the mis­sion since 1989. He views the mis­sion as a home, not a shel­ter or in­sti­tu­tion.

Rice is his trusty ex­ec­ut­ive as­sist­ant and even­tu­al suc­cessor.

“If I keel over and die, she’ll come right up and con­tin­ue this present­a­tion,” he told Rotary mem­bers.

Rice is a Lawndale nat­ive who began work­ing at the mis­sion in 1993 as a 13-year-old. She likes the work.

“It’s like a fam­ily,” she said.

The mis­sion’s 21-per­son staff in­cludes sev­en gradu­ates. The fa­cil­ity is home to 51 beds, with 30 men on a wait­ing list.

“Lights out are at el­ev­en-thirty,” said Em­ber­ger, adding that ex­cep­tions are made when a late-night foot­ball game is on tele­vi­sion.

Some 200 men gradu­ate from the mis­sion each year. Re­quire­ments are to work for three months, have hous­ing and be drug and al­co­hol free.

At one time, even ex-felons were eas­ily able to find em­ploy­ment. Today, find­ing work is harder for every­one.

Two years ago, the mis­sion re­laxed its work re­quire­ment. Gradu­ates can work part time or sea­son­ally, not full time.

Em­ber­ger said the mis­sion “re­builds the lives of broken men brick by brick.” He spoke of sev­er­al suc­cess stor­ies.

Den­nis was a crack co­caine ad­dict when he came to the mis­sion. He went on to gradu­ate from res­taur­ant school and was hired by a Cen­ter City hotel.

“A few years ago, he was eat­ing from a Camp­bell’s soup can at a soup kit­chen in Ger­man­town,” Em­ber­ger said.

For more in­form­a­tion on the mis­sion, vis­it www.who­so­ever­gospel.org

In oth­er news, the rotary club presen­ted a Vo­ca­tion­al Ser­vice Award to Mar­cello Can­cel­liere, own­er and head in­struct­or of Red Ti­ger Taek­won-Do, at 1912 Welsh Road in Bustleton.

Can­cel­liere spoke at the club’s June 5 meet­ing and ex­plained that stu­dents must per­form com­munity ser­vice be­fore earn­ing their black belts.

The stu­dents take part in activ­it­ies such as cleanups, char­ity walks and vo­lun­teer­ing at soup kit­chens.

The club is col­lect­ing adult men’s coats through Nov. 13 for the St. Fran­cis Inn Min­is­tries in Kens­ing­ton. Drop-off loc­a­tions are at Cannstat­ter’s (9130 Academy Road), North­east Com­munity Cen­ter (2840 Holme Ave.) and Holmes­burg Baptist Chris­ti­an Academy (7927 Frank­ford Ave.).

Coats can also be dropped off at the club’s weekly meet­ings, on Tues­days from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. at Cannstat­ter’s. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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