(Pastor’s note: Below is the text of the Shelter Appeal Letter that went out to friends of Old First’s Wellspring Ministries. Anyone may make a contribution, but this fundraising effort for keeping the Shelter open this month is inviting people beyond Old First’s on-going supporters to make a donation. Initial responses are very promising. Old First will not receive more from this appeal than it needs to cover Bethesda’s expenses, but we may be able to make a contribution greater than their most basic costs for the April Shelter.)
Dear Friend of Old First’s Urban Service Ministries:
What could we do, but in good faith keep the shelter open? And trust that friends like you agree that providing thirty men a safe home is a good use of money.
Our partner in this ministry, the Bethesda Project, was going to have to close the shelter early. The federal budget impasse has left them without a crucial FEMA grant… and funds for many of their programs for the homeless. By the end of March, Bethesda had hit the wall… had no choice, but to shutdown services across Philadelphia.
What could we do? The residents in our shelter, not expecting to need alternative housing until May, would have had neither warning, nor time for other arrangements. And the weather outside… it was still snowing!
What could we do, but trust God and make the leap of faith and take over all the cost of keeping the shelter open. Between $5,000 and $6,000 of unexpected expenses not in our already tight budget.
Bethesda had done all it could, covering its portion of the shelter’s costs, a little less than $200 a night, out of other limited, resources and, of late, on borrowed money. (Federal, state and city budget cutbacks are being felt acutely by the most vulnerable among us!)
Old First already covers all the shelter’s costs for space, utilities, cleaning and supplies, and for organizing dinners. But being good neighbors to these men insists on this unexpected, additional financial responsibility. Finding the money will make a difference for Eddie, Gideon, Lenny, Melvin, Victor… And for the men that Bethesda has transferred to Old First from the shelters they have had to close.
May we invite you to be good neighbors too? Please make a contribution in our support of the shelter. We have established a restricted fund to receive donations up to the additional cost. About 1/4 of Old First’s annual costs for the shelter are covered by outside individuals or congregations. We could not serve so many people without others’ help.
We are also asking the men of our shelter for help. They will be preparing a fund raising Fish Fry on Friday, April 15. Meals can be purchased to be eaten at Old First or taken back to work or home. We will begin serving from 11:30 a.m in our social hall (also their home).
For the second time this program year, an unexpected service opportunity like this has opened up for Old First. Back in September and October, we answered the call when our sister congregation, Hope UCC, needed shelter space for its Men’s Overnight Ministry. Many of you helped out then too. Thank you. We give thanks for the chance to help out again, and thanks that we are not alone in the ministries we do.
Tax-deductible donations may be made to Old First Reformed United Church of Christ. Please indicate that they are for the “April Shelter.” Let me thank you in advance for your prayers and support.
Jill Soubel, Wellspring Team Leader
Billi Amos Charron, Wellspring Coordinator
Rev. Michael W. Caine, Covenant Minister