December 2007 Street Outreach
Again this year I joined up with Mike & Ron to distribute warm clothing to homeless folks in Philadelphia. Jeff & Jamey joined in this year also so we had lots more stuff to give out. Most of it we bought at Walmart because its so ridiculously cheap, some we also got at the Salvation Army stores and Mike's neighbor had alot of stuff from last year. We also had 30 brown bag lunches to hand out. In addition to the usual hats, gloves, socks, underwear, and hoodies- this year we had sleeping bags, poly tarps, and jackets.
We loaded up Ron's van and spent the whole day driving around Center City. We also stopped at a veterans shelter called Perimeter and another one I didn't get the name for.
Going 1 on 1 or in small groups is the way to go- the guys are really grateful and only take what they need. In larger groups like at the shelters its a little tough because they all start competing with each other and it can get a little nerve-wracking when we start to run out of stuff.
We are blessed to have so much and for the opportunity to give some of it back. Merry Christmas!
December 2008 Street Outreach
Sitting here at my (Andrew Rumbold) computer the day after our annual charity run, my thoughts & prayers can't help but to go out to those homeless we met yesterday, and the ones we didn't meet. The things most of us take for granted- a roof over our head, hot shower, warm bed, regular meals- there are many here in our midst who look upon these as daily blessings.
This year it was myself, Ron Krier, and Mike Volko who made what has become an annual day of giving to the homeless in Center City Philadelphia. This year we gave away 44 bag lunches from Silvio's Deli in Hatboro, they bake the rolls fresh on premises and are delicious even to those of us who have regular meals. We also had a good selection of winter coats, hats, gloves, socks, underwear, thermal underwear, toiletries, sleeping bags, and backpacks that we purchased new in the days before.
We headed straight for City Hall as we usually do, to head down into the subway by the giant clothespin. On the way down Mike was dividing the toiletries up into plastic bags to make it easier. Before we even made it there we noticed a few folks on the sidewalks and handed out some lunches and supplies. We stay away from shelters and try to focus on those folks who also stay away from them because of the trouble that can happen when you get any group together who are competing for limited resources. This way we also get to spend a minute or two of time in conversation with them and let them know that someone cares.
It was very warm this year, above 60F and we had to change our tactics somewhat. Usually the homeless are down below in 15th Street Station or Suburban Station trying to stay warm. With the warm weather they were out and about more. It can be challenging to identify those in real need, as there are plenty of people out just trying to take advantage of whatever situation they can. If we're handing out supplies from the van it tends to attract attention of those just looking for free stuff. We think we get better at weeding them out every year but who really knows?
This year we encountered more ladies than ever before, mostly it is men we find. We found Linda off to the side in 15th St Station reading the Bible and gave her lunch and some supplies. Alicia was on the sidewalk and really needed a sleeping bag so we hooked her up. Some folks are very wary and even decline the offer of a meal even though you can tell they need it. We break the ice with an offer of a good lunch and then try to find out what they really need whether it be a pair of gloves or a sleeping bag. They will often tell you just what they need, and then point out someone else who can use something. Some have been out on the streets for 7 years or more, one man I met said it was his first night out. Sometimes we find a camp, its amazing what they can put together and even more amazing where they are tucked in right next to life as usual in the city.
Some notes for myself to help in planning next year- a few more sleeping bags, tarps and backpacks would have been good. Some things for ladies. Packages of toiletries were good, could have used a few more. 44 lunches was a lot to hand out for the 3 of us, in the end we started giving 2 a person. Start a little earlier to try and maximize our limited dollars. We estimate we spent almost $1,000 this year and appreciate the few monetary donations we received!
On the way out of the city we were talking about how the day went and Mike talked about calling it Project Homeless. I told him that I came up with a different name last year- "For the Least of Our Brothers" based on the following from the book of Matthew:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” - Matthew 25:31-46
2011 Street Outreach
For the 4th year in a row (3 for me) some friends and I (Andy) distributed lunches and warm clothes to the homeless in Center City Phila. This year it was Ron Krier, Mike Volko, and myself. We did get quite a few donations which helped with our limited funds and special thanks go out to Pat, Jane, Arlene, Jim @ BCCC, ONeill Family, Boomer, Justin, Deb & Rich, Ken & Jill, and Wash Tyme. I hope I did not forget anyone.
We met up around 915 am and loaded up Rons van with jackets, hats, gloves, socks, underwear, sweatshirts, blankets, backpacks, pants, shoes, & sleeping bags and stopped by Silvio's Deli to pickup 40 brown bag lunches with a sub, chips, soda, and cookie in each. They bake their own rolls on premises and the subs are really good, and they give us a break on the price for charity.
Since we've been doing this a few years we have a good idea where to find these folks. At the end of the day we'll drop off the remaining items at a shelter but we find its more rewarding actually searching out people who need things the most and the 1 on 1 interaction is best. For the most part they are very respectful and only take what they really need knowing we only have so much to give. Sometimes people will start to crowd the van and we're not really sure if they are homeless but we try to use our best judgement. Just the interaction and asking their name helps their self-esteem.
One interesting thing that one of us noticed was watching the reaction of other people watching us giving the stuff out. I'm sure many just walk by these people all day long and don't stop to think about the situation someone who does not have a home is in. Hopefully we planted a seed for someone to stop thinking of themselves first and serve others in whatever small way they can.
So I'm sitting here in my warm house looking out the window at it snowing or is it freezing rain right now and can't help thinking about our brothers & sisters out there just trying to survive. If we all just do a little it adds up to a lot.
2012 Street Outreach
Ron Krier, Mike Volko, Andrew Rumbold, Pete Murphy, John Morano
December 2013 Street Outreach
This year it was Ron Krier, Mike Volko, Pete Murphy, Tom Conte, and Andrew Rumbold (myself). It was unseasonably warm this year with a high around 60F. As in the past few years we solicited donations and are grateful to those who selflessly gave money or clothing. We were trying to remember how long we have been doing this, it has to be close to 10 years.
This year we got a late start because we were still looking for warm jackets, we had tried Kmart, Walmart, even Kohls the night before and come up empty. It's strange how some years we can find such a great selection and other years nothing. So we stopped at a different Kmart on the way to the city and found a few.
This year was a little different because Ron had sold his van, so we relied on Mike towing a trailer. It was actually a blessing because we had Tom along this year giving haircuts, and we set him up in the trailer with a pair of clippers, a battery and backup generator, stool, and a light. He used to own a salon, and gave about 7-8 haircuts during the day and was definitely a hit among the guys we met.
We started out as usual right at City Hall by the giant paperclip. For some reason we never seem to have trouble parking as long as we leave someone with the vehicle, even sitting up to an hour. So a few of us headed down into the subway with bag lunches from Silvio's Deli (purchased at a discount thank you!) and found some homeless right away. The usual approach- we profile and ask if they can use a meal, then tell them we have some clothing and ask what they can really use before either heading back to the vehicle with them or just retrieving things and coming back. In the meantime Tom started giving haircuts in the trailer.
Next we headed a few blocks over to Love Park, found a few more guys for haircuts and lunches, including James who is a veteran.
Due to the late start and giving haircuts, we didn't do as much driving around as we typically would. Last stop was on the Ben Franklin parkway where we found a whole bunch of guys who were outdoors. We gave out the remainder of the 50 lunches and a few more haircuts. Also most of the sleeping bags and tarps here. Tom moved his barbershop outside for more light.
We got a late start home and got caught in some major traffic. Another successful mission this year, again thanks to those who donated!
Maybe we can be a little more prepared next year by buying in advance. Definitely could use more duffle bags and tarps next year.
2014 Street Outreach
(Ron Krier) On Fri Dec 19th, my good friends Mike,Andy, and Pete and I got together for what might have been our 12th annual, (for the least of our brothers run), which was again a great success.
We started at the clothes pin by city hall, which is where we always start and Andy took the lead as we went straight down underground to the subway and found a lot of homeless people in the cold.
We gave out fresh delicious lunches made by Silvio’s deli in Hatboro, Hoagies ,chips , soda and a desert. We then gave out sleeping bags, tents ,socks ,boots , toiletries and etc.
Now that we’ve been doing this so long we are starting to run into repeat customers , such as Robert who was the first guy we gave hair cut to last year. When we gave him boots this year he was so happy that he went to the public rest room in the subway to throw out his old boots and socks and wash his feet and put on his new socks and boots . He then came back to show them to us. That was a great feeling .
We actually fed and gave supplies to over 60 different people and were able to leave some supplies at what were little tent cities.
This annual event is a very humbling experience. My friends and I all love and look forward to doing this every year and it seems to get bigger and better each year . When we started we would help about 30 people and now more than double that number along with adding haircuts which is its own success story. (Come back Tom)!!!!
Looking forward to 12/2015 , Hope we can get more help next time around
December 2015 Street Outreach
June 2016 Street Outreach
July 2016 Street Outreach
December 2016 Street Outreach
We had another impactful outreach on December 16, 2017. Check out the video with Bennie's testimony!
May 2017 Street Outreach
For this outreach we had a special blessing from Pastor Chris Hanley from Bethel Philadelphia Mills Church. We distributed 60 bag lunches along with many sleeping bags, duffle bags, tents, and clothing plus food and water. Check out the photos on the right.
December 2017 Street Outreach
February 2018 Street Outreach
August 2018 Street Outreach
December 2018 Street Outreach
December 21, 2018
It was an overcast and rainy morning at about 42°. Our journey again somewhere around noon, not knowing that this one event would change my outlook on life so quickly. Miraculously the rain ended and our mission was to hand out much needed supplies and food to the homeless. Our first stop on our run was to a weathered man, about 48 years old standing on the corner of Alleghany Avenue off of I-95.
He shared his story of holding down the full-time job and having a wife and a home. His life changed after an automobile accident. He became dependent on painkillers. With that addiction came another and within a few months everything and everyone near and dear to him and slowly drifted away. He was very kind in sharing his story and very appreciative of the donations we provided him. He received a new lease on life that day, even for just that moment he felt human again. He even provide us with some information where others may appreciate our services.
Within a block we came upon a woman, around the same age who was emaciated and disheveled. The food alone almost appeared to be enough and we supplied her with much more. While slowly trolling the streets, we came upon a husky Man around 55 years old. His deep brown eyes showed how much pain he had been in. He hadn’t eaten in a day. He actually received two meals. We set him up with some gear as well. As we were driving the way he was already sitting against the wall, voraciously eating his food.
Remembering what our first person on Allegheny Avenue said, we searched for a place where we could help many people at one stop. None of us had ever seen such a horrific site. Where we in Philadelphia? Our truck and trailer cautiously rolled under the overpass. We gasped at the approximately two hundred homeless people living in tents and makeshift leans. We were told that every month the city evict the people from their encampment to clean the area and rid that area of “Those People.” They soon would be off to another area where same process would continue that never ending vicious cycle. We drove a few blocks away to talk about how we could help them and decided it was not safe to do so with so many present.
After that clear shock to our systems we went back to work. We came across an amazingly beautiful young lady named Shannon. I’d put her around 22 years old. You could see through her stunning blue eyes and her soul with magnificent, it was pure. Her mind not so. We quickly came to the conclusion that she was on heroin. Does that really matter? No.
We were able to help another half dozen or so people in the same area even parking the truck and trailer on the sidewalk itself to not block Friday Philadelphia traffic. A rather aggressive and ingenious move to help out more people. We moved on and we noticed another young girl. I quickly hopped out of the truck with a lunch in hand and quickly realized that it was Shannon just a few blocks away from where we first met. I dropped to my knees in front of her and cried as I looked into her eyes. This is not fair. She has nowhere to go. As I looked down upon concrete I saw two pennies. One was brilliant and shiny and the other was dull and worn. I gave her one and I took the other. I asked her if she knew what they were and she confidently replied,”Yes they are two pennies.” I went on to say that they were blessings from God because every penny states “In God we trust.” I gave her one penny. We said a prayer and cried together. I told her “You are loved” and I headed back to the truck with the dull penny in my hand.
We ran into more people and helped them the same. Out of the corner of one of our eyes we spotted two yellow and blue tents in a small patch of woods surrounded by a fence. They were barely visible and even more challenging to get to. About 25 yards down the black iron fence we noticed a missing post and squeezed through the opening with our lunches. We cautiously walked up the muddy hill and announced our arrival with the offer of free lunches. Two gentlemen age 55 and 60 came out of there dilapidated tents with elevated spirits.
We walked down the hill to the trailer and loaded them up with everything they could possibly benefit from. One of them even asked for the empty cardboard box our supplies were in. They were beyond thankful as we once again ascended the hill to help them carry their donated goods. They were light hearted loving and friendly as we told each other jokes a top the hill. It was our honor to meet them.
We moved on to the art museum area. We were able to help at least a dozen people in this area. One person who stood out was a 52-year-old stunning Haitian woman. Her soft voice and kind disposition could’ve melted titanium with her love. As we talked, she was only asking for a coat and a new pair of shoes. We spoke to many that only wanted the bare minimum because they knew others needed more than they did. Amazing, most people, who had nothing, were more worried about the people that more nothing that they did?
Running out of daylight, we completed our trip at a mission church for the homeless. There was a dozen homeless people outside of that shelter itself. The remaining donations were carefully offloaded and given to the shelter.
Love is everything in this world and nothing is possible without it. It was our honor to help so many people in such a short amount of time. Endless hours of preparation went into this trip to ensure its success. There are countless people who made this trip possible and If it were not for the generous contributions and gracious donations this day would have never occurred.
That day the homeless people helped us more than we could ever help them, on so many levels. We kindly ask that you find a spot in your heart to contribute to our non-profit ministry. We were able to help provide our homeless neighbors with the following: a Tent for up to 2 people, Sleeping bag, Flashlight (primarily for searching in dumpsters for leftover food at night), Blue Tarp, Rolling duffel bag, Long underwear, Sweatshirts, Underwear/Undershirts, Socks, Boots and or Sneakers, Winter coats, Hats and Gloves, Toiletry bags for both men and women, A nourishing bag lunch, and last but not least a special holiday Christmas gift bag with much appreciated treats.
The ones who were lucky enough to be on the street that day:
Ron and his wife Michelle, Ron’s sister Diane, Andrew, Pete, Mike, Luke, and myself.
God Bless You All.
John Cooper RN