July 27 – Ephrata Prayer Requests

Here are current prayer requests from the Ephrata Shelter residents

  • Prayers for debts and financial issues with college.
  • Pray that my children are kept safe while they are not with me, and that they maintain the values that I try to instill in them.
  • I would like prayers for me and my kids, for God to always be with us.  I want prayers for guardian angels, and strength to keep going and to keep motivated at all times, even when times get tough; to never give up and have faith that God is with me at all times.
  • Pray for me to have a real home once again.
  • I lost my grandmother this past weekend.  She is the woman who raised me and inspired my life.  I ask for strength, guidance, and for closure.  I pray that she is in a better place.
  • Please pray for strength and courage in this changing season of life.
  • Pray for reunification with my children – very soon!  Pray for peace and faith for them and me during this time.  Pray for my children’s safety, health and well-being, and for strength and hope for me.  Also, I need a job!  Pray for a successful, quick bankruptcy filing, and line up our lives for 50% custody.
  • Pray for C__ that she gets her children; for K__ that she gets her transfer; for M__ that she keeps doing what she’s doing to find a job.  And for my family:  H__ that she gets the job she applied for; for K__ that she does well in college (and give her courage); for M__ that he passes summer school.
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From Shelter to Culinary School!

Jon Termini is an interesting man. He is quiet, but not shy. He is a willing helper but asks very little for himself. Jon is an achiever, and he walks with a quiet confidence and an easy smile. Things haven’t always been easy for Jon. termini2

He describes his early life as being from a multi-cultural family that moved around a great deal. Nowhere really feels like home to Jon.

He came to the shelter in his early twenties. Things were going “pretty well” for this young man until he lost his job and was unable to find other work right away. Without an income, he lost his residence pretty quickly and was couch-surfing with friends and hanging out  in places that stayed open for twenty-four hours until he finally ended up sleeping in his car. Jon worked hard to avoid ever having the cliched appearance of a homeless man. He is always well-groomed and never unkempt. It is a point of pride and dignity with him.

One of my very first memories of Jon when he came to GSS was that he needed some money to get his car on the road. Lending money can be a tricky business, particularly when we haven’t gotten to know a man well. Jon got the loan, fixed his car and repaid the loan in a very short time. Clearly, keeping his word is important.

Getting to know Jon can be a challenge, because he is always on his way somewhere. He stays busy, constantly improving and achieving. He sometimes works two jobs, and has been taking night classes at a local community college.

When Good Samaritan ventured into our own business with the Nourish food truck effort, there were two basic principles. Deliver a quality product, and help the men get back on their feet by providing employment. For many of our men, their road to the shelter has not provided an encouraging background for employment. Many employers simply will not even consider helping out a guy that is unemployed and living in a shelter. Providing a resume piece for them is vital to the mission of Nourish, and more importantly, to their lives. The men that are hired by Nourish are aware that they have been given an opportunity, and they make the most of it. Jon demonstrates this better than anyone.

He was the first Nourish hire, and he assisted Keith Misner by learning every single facet of the business. He works on inventory, and ordering. He picks up food, and serves customers. He even learned to drive the rig!

Now Jon is moving on, pursuing his dream to become a Chef. He will be attending the Culinary Institute in New York City, a prestigious event in his life.  As he prepares to leave, he has voiced his gratitude to GSS for providing a stable home and many resources.

Jon will be greatly missed around The Shelter, along with his co-workers and customers at Nourish. He leaves big empty shoes along with his legacy here. He is often chosen to speak for The Good Samaritan Shelter, and for Nourish. His speaks with both great gratitude and determination, willingly sharing the fact that when he came to us, he was only expecting shelter. Jon never dreamed that there would be so many opportunities for him, from loans to support and encouragement, for a new community and employment that would reawaken his love for the opportunity to feed others.

When you buy from Nourish it contributes to improving lives, and provides a good man with another chance.

Here is the finest testimony that we can provide. Because of the experience that Jon has gained at Nourish, his school has provided him with a three thousand dollar grant!

Nourish, and The Good Samaritan Shelter provided that opportunity. The support of the community paved the way for a very good man to accomplish a dream.

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Why Rodney Believes.

We have a program at GSS called This Is Why I Believe. img_1515

It’s a wonderful little program that provides an opportunity for men to talk about their faith journeys. Sometimes the speaker is a staff member, or a board member, or a pastor, or a volunteer, and sometimes it is a resident. What we often learn, usually to the amazement of the residents, is that we have all tripped, and we have all struggled on our way to accepting God’s grace and power into our lives.

Recently, I encouraged Rodney to tell his story, because I have felt such great inspiration in watching him open up and become successful.  Here is some of his story:

Rodney is now in his fifties and grew up in New York city. He is an only son and grew up with his mother, who is just seventeen years older than he is. He never had much exposure to church or The Word in his life, although his mom put Reverend Ike on the radio every Sunday. They lived day-to-day, earning just enough to get by, on the streets. His mother was into the numbers, and from a very young age, Rodney ran numbers for his mother. One of the first things that Rodney ever said to me was that all he knew was the streets and jail. Until very recently, Rodney has never had a job. Never.

Rodney’s mother moved to West Chester to be with her companion, and once when Rodney came to visit she encouraged him to leave New York behind. He did so, reluctantly. It is clear that Rodney and his mom had a very special relationship.

When she died, Rodney became homeless, and he lived that way for about six months in West Chester. He often took part in the Friday night meal program that is provided at the Episcopal Church Of The Holy Trinity in West Chester.

Rodney talked about the kindness of a woman that worked at this meal. One night she sat beside him asked him “What do you need?” They talked, and the kind woman quickly got Rodney into the system that organizes finding shelter for the homeless. In a short time, Rodney was invited to Good Samaritan Shelter.

I have learned that this kind person is named Cheryl Robinson Saab, who serves at this meal every Friday with her husband. I would love for her to know how great of an impact she had on the life of a good man by simply connecting with him in loving care.Seemingly small deeds of kindness can reap great rewards. You are a blessing to many Miss Cheryl.

Rodney arrived on November 2. That night he joined us at our regular Wednesday night Bible study. You could sense how foreign it was to him to be sitting in a room with a bunch of men and talking about Jesus. I did something unusual that night and I offered to abandon my prepared study if someone had something to ask, or if they had a particular Bible story or passage they wanted to discuss.

The Holy Spirit was clearly up to something that night. Charles, on his first night at The Shelter, offered Psalm 133. Someone remarked that 133 was the house number we were sitting in. Charles quoted the following, from memory.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity. It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments.

I asked Charles to repeat it slowly, starting with just the first verse, and then the second. We talked about how glorious and helpful it was for men to come together in this way to discuss the Bible, and how unusual it was for many.

As Rodney shared his testimony he talked about the feeling that came over him as he heard these words. He was having an altogether new experience. He told us how the sweat was running down off of his head, like the precious oil did.  He was changed at that moment and I can tell you that when we come together for Bible study Rodney is always present and his face radiates with goodness. He is transformed.

Since that night GSS has helped Rodney to find two jobs. He has moved into transitional housing and is saving money. He is spreading joy.

 Cheryl reached out to Rodney and sent him our way, but Rodney had to step outside of what he knew and was comfortable with to join us. 

Or was he guided?

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.

Getting to know Terry

Terry Weaver is a nice guy. That’s what everyone seems to say shortly after getting to know him, including me.

He is also warm, caring, unassuming, and bright.

Terry was raised in a fairly strict Christian household, and like many men he has had his moments of rebellion and less that perfect choices. He recently shared his story with the men of The Good Samaritan Shelter in a program called This Is Why I Believe.

As Terry shared his personal testimony with his fellow residents, all present were transformed by the strength of his faith.img_1460

Terry also mentioned that he had once struggled with an addiction, but turning just once to God to take away the temptation has been enough to keep him sober for the last nine years.

When I asked Terry how his journey had brought him to us at GSS, his reply was simple. “They laid off a number of people at my job, including me. I was unable to find enough work to keep up with my rent.”

Since coming to us, Terry has transitioned from Emergency Housing to Transitional Housing and now to Affordable Permanent Housing. He participates regularly in Bible study programs, although his job at the local Acme sometimes keeps him away.

Terry would like everyone to know that he is grateful for the work and support of GSS, and for the friendships he has established here. He plans to spend Christmas with his mother and nine-year-old daughter, back in Lancaster County.

We are blessed to have such a kind and spirit-filled man among us. Merry Christmas Terry!

 

What a blessing! by Denise Fitzgerald

Two years ago my daughter went away to college, and I had nothing to do but sit around feeling sorry for myself in an empty farmhouse with a husband and three dogs; I was  scanning Facebook continually and not even liking anything!  All of a sudden a picture  showed up of people  serving dinner at the Good Samaritan Shelter!  I said to myself, I want to do that!  I wrote to Nate Hoffer asking how does one do this.

Boy, oh boy, was I nervous when Nate responded right back by email at my place of work, saying that the guys at the Emergency Shelter were looking forward to us serving a meal!  Everything was done in one email, he made it so easy!

The next day I let everyone know at work know what we were ALL going to do! We were all excited and nervous at the same time! Everyone at work responded with what they were bringing, and if they were coming.  

Our first meal  was in November of 2014. We brought our food to 133 High Street and sat and ate dinner with our new friends from the Shelter.    Dinner and just hanging out with the men from the Shelter went better than expected!  I don’t know what I was expecting, honestly, I was just really nervous… I had never done anything like this. I was totally stepping out of my comfort zone!  

I’ve gone on missions trips out of the country before and always followed others. Putting something together like this and then really acting upon it overwhelmed me!  The thought of going to the shelter and just hanging out really made me nervous. I wondered what we would talk about, what would happen if no one showed up. What  if the men were mean to us…. these are the thoughts that ran through my head.

On our first night a man named John Moore greeted us and he couldn’t have welcomed us any better!  He acted like we were neighbors bringing dinner, just like you’re supposed to act!  We got the biggest welcome ever and felt right at home.

After that,it all fell right into place. We kind of all knew what to do, it was like ALL of us were helping each other out, just like a family. Someone set the table, another started spooning the food, we were serving each other and before we ate Mr. Scott Fitzgerald prayed over our meal and blessed us all!  And what a blessing it has been!  Blessing after blessing !!!

Every single second was filled up with laughter and talking, and helping one another until we headed out the door!  Even clean-up was easy, as our new friends helped with clean-up, washing dishes and putting together leftovers!  Our friends  even walk us to our car door every month now!   FRIENDS, we are all friends…being better together!!!  

It is two years later now, my other daughter went away to college and I was NOT surfing Facebook this time, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I want to keep on serving and hanging out with our friends from the Shelter!

I got our church small group  together  and we now serve and eat dinner  over at the house on 318 Main Street, the Breitegam House!

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The folks from Scargill-McClurken Insurance company (including Denise and Scott Fitzgerald) after a dinner at the Emergency Shelter.

Henry Cimo is eight years old. Henry Cimo has a heart for others.

The door at Good Samaritan Shelter swings open constantly. Sometimes it is a man in need of a home. Often it is a local friend, stopping by with a donation. It might be a resident, checking in for a bit of help or counsel. Our office is often a cacophony of many voices, from many directions. We simply never know what the next adventure, inspiration, or need could be.  img_1416

Sometimes, it is a blessing. That is what young Henry Cimo represents to me. Henry, along with his Dad and sister visited GSS office yesterday. Henry held an envelope, marked “$40 for Homeless Shelter. From Henry Cimo. ”

Henry was donating his birthday money to the men of the shelter. When I asked him why he was doing this, he was thoughtful before replying, “I feel sorry for them.”

Pity, by itself, does nothing. Being aware that others are in need and acting on it is a blessing. I hope that Henry feels that blessing, and I hope his parents do also. I know that I do. Thanks Henry and God bless you.

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.” Proverbs 11:24

I was having one of those days…

nate-blogI’m sure you’ve had them.  You feel like you’re being consumed with the troubles and worries of your job or personal life. I would like to tell you that I am always an upbeat, positive person.  But, admittedly there are times when the stresses and struggles of our ministry weigh on me.
I was having a tough day a few weeks ago when I received a phone call at the office.  “Nate…it’s Tom…do you remember me?  I stayed in your emergency shelter several years ago.”   Now, we’ve seen a few hundred men come through our doors since Tom was with us, so it took me a little while to remember him, but then it clicked.

I could place Tom’s voice with his face, and I remembered his positive and friendly demeanor while he was in our program.  Tom went on to tell me why he was calling… “I just wanted to say thank you for helping me during my time of need.  I’m now working full-time at a pharmaceutical company, I’ve reunited with my wife and son and we’re living in a beautiful home.”  It was easy for me to feel the sense of pride and accomplishment in Tom’s voice.  He was in a much better place now, and extremely grateful that GSS helped him get there.

Since our phone conversation Tom has emailed me several photos of his family (Tom and his son are pictured above).  He’s most proud of his son and he is enjoying being in his life.  With your help, GSS provided Tom with the help he needed, so that now he can be the father figure his son so desperately needs.

Tom called to thank me.  But ultimately it is Tom who helped me by reminding me of the importance of our work while turning my difficult day into one filled with optimism and hope.

I thank God for this timely dose of encouragement.  And I am grateful to each of you for making it possible for GSS to help men like Tom rebuild their lives and reunite with their families.

With a grateful heart,

Nate Hoffer
Executive Director