Displaced find support at ‘Rescue Mission’

From left, minister Jeffrey Harley, Nick Lordi and Pastor Harvey Bass, help keep Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission going. — PHOTO BY MIKE ROBINSON

Homelessness is a black eye and hindrance for cities and the residents directly impacted by such dire circumstances. With a dismal economy causing draconian funding cuts to much needed community services and charities across America, Wayne Hall and Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission remain a vital safety net for women, children and men in the city of Philadelphia.

“I’ve been involved with homeless ministry for a few years. I see a call in the Bible to help the poor and oppressed and the marginalized; it really was my faith that drew me here,” said Nick Lordi, chaplain-director of Men’s Ministry with the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission. “At the men’s shelter, we have two primary ministries,” there’s a short term emergency shelter that has 160 beds to accommodate homeless men for a 30-day stay, inclusive of three meals per day. We have chapel services before each meal, so that they’re not just being fed physically, but they’re being spiritually fed as well. Chaplains are on hand throughout the day to provide case management or other referral services that may arise.”

Lordi elaborated on the other primary program. “Our other program, the long term program, is called the Overcomer Program,” he said. “This program is designed to serve guys who can commit to an 8 to 12 month intensive experience. “They’re involved in classes during the day — life skills classes, job skills classes. They get classes on managing money, they get classes in computer literacy, and a work program and other services that are designed to aid the men in taking the next steps towards self sufficiency and success.”

After the men graduate from the Overcomer Program, they receive assistance in finding stable housing, employment and/or higher education opportunities.

“When I first entered Sunday Breakfast Mission, I came here with bad anger (management issues) and a bad attitude. I use to do drugs. I use to drink a lot. (But) since I’ve come to Sunday Breakfast Mission, they have helped me a lot. All the chaplains here have worked with me,” said Jany Ruiz.

Ruiz, 49, is a graduate of the Overcomer Program, he completed the experience in nine months, and he has a power testimony. He is extremely proud of kicking his several pack a day cigarette habit and illiteracy.

Ruiz is a true success story.

“When I first came here, I didn’t even know how to read or write — now I can read and write and spell — and now I can read the Bible,” he said. “They helped me a lot, throughout my sickness, throughout my worries, throughout my hopes, throughout my dreams, they’ve been here for me — they helped me achieve my goals.”

Pastor Harvey Bass has seen many come and go through the doors.

“I’ve been here at Sunday Breakfast approximately 15 years,” he said. “I’ve been through three executive directors… I started as a volunteer and was hired in 1998.

Bass does many things including counseling, food service and maintenance.

“I’ve had every job that was here,” he quipped.

A lot has changed over the years.

“When I came here, they had 60 beds, and the precursor of the Overcomer Program, which was a drug recovery program, only had three people,” said Bass.

Bass said Sunday Breakfast currently prepares and serves approximately, “3,000 meals a week.”

Jeffrey Harley, 49, a U.S. Army veteran, is the chaplain of Education/Learning Center. “I assist men with life skills classes, job skills, money management, Bible studies, GED preparation, and anything else that ensures a successful transition (for the clients) back in to society,” said Harley.

For females, Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission operates a women’s shelter in Germantown called Wayne Hall. The purpose of Wayne Hall is to teach women how to restructure their lives according to the Word of God. Displaced women (18 and older) and their children (up to four kids) are housed and given an array of support services for between 9 months and a year. A sampling of the classes and services that Wayne Hall offers to its female residents includes: Christian discipleship, Bible classes, parenting classes, life skills instruction, cooking, personal grooming, finance, G.E.D. completion, homemaking & housekeeping skills, health & nutrition consultation, family & social development activities, and more.

To qualify for residency at Wayne Hall, females must be/have:

  • Homeless or in acute need of housing.
  • Single, parenting or pregnant.
  • Receptive to Biblical teaching
  • No acute psychiatric or medical conditions
  • No severe drug or alcohol addiction

Rita Whitaker is the director of Wayne Hall, and she’s very keen on exposing female clients to monthly cultural and social trips that they may not normally experience. “We’re always looking for sponsors (for the monthly trips); we always need SEPTA tokens for our moms to go to their appointments, and to go to school and work. In addition to transit tokens, toiletries are also needed for the female clients, “Cleaning supplies, crib sheets, and twin-sized mattress covers,” are also in demand, said Rita who added that “We are also looking for someone to donate a snow blower to our facility, as well as a mini-van.

“At Wayne Hall, we have an alumni ministry for girls that have completed the program. We offer it as continued support,” said Whitaker.

The alumni girls can participate in retreats, Bible study and counseling. Female clients that are currently enrolled in the program “are required to participate in community service to give back to the community.”

Wayne Hall seeks volunteers to teach life skills and parenting classes, and children’s Bible study for the children of the female residents.

Whitaker urges corporations, churches, families and individuals to make donations to support the ministry of Wayne Hall. Whitaker instructs donors to make checks payable to Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, but to list “Wayne Hall in the memo section of the check.” This will ensure that designated donations will be appropriated and directed to her program to aid the women and the children Wayne Hall faithfully serves.

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