Tag Archives: supporters

kilimanjaro

Family Climbing Kilimanjaro for TKJ

Back in January, when we were featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer about out fundraiser to stop our foreclosure on our house, Sue and Jim Reichwein contacted me with this idea. They wanted to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise funds for grocery money for The King’s Jubilee. I don’t know how all of this works, but they have a goal to get to the top of the tallest peak in Africa and down safely and at the same time raise at least $5,000 for The King’s Jubilee in store credit at a local grocery store. They left on Wednesday. On Thursday, they were in Qatar, they should be climbing now. Please pray for their safety.

Here is the email they sent out:

Hello everyone,
Jim and I want to fill you in on a challenge that we are excited to take on.  In an effort to honor and commemorate my father, Charlie Graham, who passed away in October, Jim and I are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak in Africa.  We leave for our trip on Wednesday and will return on June 2nd.  We’ve been training for this endeavor and are excited to take on this rigorous seven-day climb with high expectations and spiritual reverence.
A more tangible way in which we would like to honor Charlie is by raising money for a gentleman that we have met named Cranford Coulter – a kind soul who lives his life in service to others.  Jim and I have sat with Cranford.  He is the “real deal”, living his life to serve others, even though he has so little.  His actions are inspiring and what we all hope to emulate in our own personal actions every day.  For the past several years, Cranford has shopped and purchased food at local supermarkets, prepared homemade meals and traveled to Center City to feed homeless folks every week.  He’s been featured in several newspaper articles for his selfless acts of kindness and generosity.  [His picture and urls to an article are attached below if you would like additional details.]
 Unfortunately, Cranford’s health issues no longer allow him to maintain gainful employment, and, as a result, he alone cannot afford to purchase the groceries he needs to continue cooking for the homeless.  It is our objective to raise money through our climb and use the proceeds to set up Cranford with an account at his local supermarket.  We want to support him so that he can continue to serve those that are in need of a hot meal without the additional burden of finding funds to purchase food.  Cranford reminds us of Charlie, and we want to honor Charlie through this fund-raising effort.  PastedGraphic-3
Our goal is to raise $5,000 in funds to purchase grocery gift cards where Cranford shops for food in his home town of Souderton.  If you would like to contribute, you can visit the “Woody’s Circle of Care” website at http://www.woodyscircleofcare.org.  The website is set up to accept donations using a credit card.  If you would rather send a check, please make it out to “Woody’s Circle of Care” and mail it to our home address c/o: Jim and Sue Reichwein, 6 Flint Circle, Doylestown PA 18901.
Jim and I are excited to take on this challenge to both honor the memory of my father, Charlie, and to support Cranford’s efforts to help those less fortunate than ourselves.  Thank you in advance for your support and generosity in supporting our cause.
 Love,
Suzi and Jimbo (and the Reichwein crew – Cal, Jake, Casey and Jada)

Of course, if you are reading this here, you may skip the middle man, and donate directly by using the friendly yellow Donate button. You may even use that to set up a monthly automatic pledge.




Our House

sheriffsaleToday would have been the day our house would have been foreclosed on and auctioned at sheriff sale. Say what you will about Facebook. It is because of our feisty, faithful, Facebook friends, that the sale is not happening today.

This is not to deny that large donations did indeed come from our local community and members of the local parish. They did. But they came after the plea was put out there to the wider world on GoFundMe at the urging of three women on Facebook. And it was through one of them, who lives in the Seattle area, that the connection was made with the Philadelphia Inquirer reporter. The articles in the Inquirer, combined with our Facebook network , which circles the globe, really got things moving. The first article was shared more than 1,000 times within what I could see from my network. Then it got picked up by the Huffington Post on the night of the State of the Union Address in an article that suggested that I should have been among those whom Pres. Obama invited to be there. It has been a very exciting, frustrating, and humbling experience.

The frustrating part was dealing with the sheriff, the bankers and the lawyer. the ineptitude and the outright lies were just mind-boggling. I don’t know how they can sleep at night and I asked them that. I don’t know how this system can possibly be financially sound in any way. My advice to anyone with money, at this point would be to not keep it as money. The bankers are idiots. liars and thieves. Either invest it in good people who will be able to take care of you later or buy land or jewels or something that has some intrinsic value. Or give it to the poor, knowing that God will repay. I even think stuffing your cash in a mattress would be better than giving it to the lot at HSBC and PHH.

It was exciting to see the numbers go up on GoFundMe and to wake up one morning and see that over $1,000 had come in from total strangers in Australia. We spent over two weeks solid just typing and writing thank you notes. It was also very humbling. When Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” He was not referring to the afterlife. No. It is a whole lot more fun to be able to give, than it is to receive. Of course, the beauty here is, that this will enable us to be able to keep on giving to the homeless and poor people whom we serve. But it was humbling, also, to see who came to our aid. Some people whom we haven’t spoken with for years sent large checks. Complete strangers sent $1,000. Old people with shaky handwriting sent in $5 bills with kind notes. A few children gave their alms box money. This kind of thing bestows an awesome responsibility on a person. We are so grateful for the support and encouragement that we received.

I have to tell you that the first thing we did with some of it was to help a few other people. We just couldn’t be happy without sharing some of the first fruits to encourage some of our other faithful Facebook friends, and a couple of real neighbors.

We may or may not have enough to hold on to the house. Bethann’s unemployment benefits ran out. My Social Security Disability Income appeal hearing hasn’t happened yet. If that gets decided in my favor soon, it should pay retroactively to October of 2010 and we will be OK. Bethann’s school goes until September. It is intense and full-time. She does not have health insurance now. We make too little to qualify for subsidy under the ACA. She was making too much, with unemployment to qualify for Medical Assistance, since Gov. Corbett blocked the Medicaid expansion, as part of his war on the poor.

The title says “Our House”, but it is only our house by virtue of the fact that we live here and work here, and I have installed gas, replaced the boiler, water heater, refrigerator, range, plumbing, electrical service, front door, windows, rebuilt the barn, put 30% down and made payments and paid the taxes and utilities for seven years. It’s really the Lord’s. To cite one of the jubilary psalms: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” (Ps. 24:1) We just use it for a time. Hopefully, we do a good job using it for His kingdom.

True Story

ptsdI am told that I am too negative about the church and that I am too critical. Well, there is history. I have been bullied by so many pastors and priests, lied to and deceived by spiritual mentors from junior high on up, in fact, so much so, that I have PTSD as a result. A Lutheran pastor expelled me from confirmation class one month before confirmation (after 3 years)  for asking too many questions. A Mennonite pastor, who had been a close friend and mentor, threatened to kill me for forbidding him from bringing inflammatory literature into a prison. For all that, I remained extremely active in church. I was the first man ordained for prison ministry in the Mennonite Church. I was ordained on five occasions in six denominations. None of these ordinations were requested by me. I was willing to give all that up to continue ministry as a layman in the Orthodox Church, as I believed it to have a solid theology and tradition of ministry to the poor, was indeed the church, and would provide a safe base and covering for ministry. Unfortunately, I have not found that to be the case.

Instead, I have found the same jealousy from a pastor who feels threatened by my presence in his church, lies and attacks. But when a family is in need, who is called? The King’s Jubilee. A homeless family of three was referred by the church to Uncle John’s last week. We helped John keep his home and we help feed the men there and keep the phones on, etc. This family can stay there as long as they need to, to get their feet under them. Last spring, we rescued a parishioner who was becoming homeless after losing his job two years prior. He was selling his possessions in the church hall just to have enough gas money to get back and forth to church, until the priest and parish council decided it was too much clutter on the table against the wall and he had to stop. This was during Lent. They did not offer to help him move or help him find a place to live or offer him a spare room. We hired him to revamp the “Come and See” Icons website and Uncle John took him in. He is still there. He is working on a program there to help catch sex-offenders and he volunteers teaching English as a second language. He doesn’t make it to church much. No one from the church calls. The priest didn’t even think to call him until I told him to at Christmas time, and that maybe someone more friendly to the church than our family should do so.

There is no regular support from the church for The King’s Jubilee. There was no offering taken to help Uncle John help this family that is now living with him. John is in bankruptcy himself, while working a full-time job and running two businesses. A couple of years ago, the priest took credit for The King’s Jubilee as if it were a parish ministry, which it is not, in the archdiocesan magazine, without checking with us. This marked us as Antiochian, so then the Russians didn’t want to get involved with us. He only wants to support “ministries” that have good marketing potential in the local area, even though the bishop told him to make sure the church supports The King’s Jubilee regardless of our personal relationship.

But I have seen this pattern too many times before. The evangelicals going for the ‘easy fruit’ refer the hard cases to some other agency or drop them off at the county assistance office with a token grocery gift card. They pray and hope they don’t come back and become a burden on them and the community, so they can go out and find some potential tithers who will fit in better with the existing demographic of the ‘church family’. Spend money on advertising before spending it on ministry where you don’t get a mention in the local press. Sound the trumpets like the Pharisees! It is very much based on a successful sales model, but it is not Christian. It is not Orthodox Christian. Please do not mistake my honesty with malice. I bear no ill will. I want to see the church improved. I want to see the priest get psychiatric help.

We are very grateful for so many who responded generously to rescue us from foreclosure. What we don’t understand is this willingness to rescue us, coupled with what seems like a steadfast unwillingness to rescue the people we serve or to support the ministry in such a way so that we wouldn’t need rescuing. We know that several of you have made monthly commitments or make quite sizeable annual donations. We are not talking about you. It’s the rest of you. Many of you want to criticize me for one thing or another. I am an easy target. I speak my mind. I really have no good reason to not speak my mind. When I have done that, it has never been rewarded, only betrayed.

“The laborer is worthy of his hire.” If the church is going to use us to take care of its poor problem, then maybe it should publicly acknowledge that, or maybe there should be some real support instead of, “Be warm and well fed … .”

Please click the friendly yellow “Donate” button to use Paypal to make a recurring monthly donation. It’s painless. God bless you!

The People on the Street Say “Thank You!”

soudindThis month has been a wild ride!

It started on Christmas day, Charli Riggle and I spoke on the phone and she told me I had to set up a Gofundme campaign in conjunction with the Facebook Lenten Almsgiving group. She was going to announce the next day that during the 12 Days of Christmas there was going to be a drive to save our house from foreclosure. This was crazy talk. Our little group had never generated anywhere near that amount of money. She was the third woman to tell me this. I have a wife and four daughters and that is about how many women it usually takes before something sinks in; so I did it. I set the goal at $15,000 which is what I estimated to be what would be needed to bring the account current by the time we raised the funds, along with the late fees. It did not allow for any funds going forward or any strange fees the mortgage company might choose to tack on. In other words, I was being my usual optimistic self. Even so, it was an outrageous amount for our little group of poor almsgivers.

In the first week, we raised over $6,000 as far as the public was aware of. There was a totally anonymous donation of $9,000 that had actually put us over the top. The donor told me to wait to add that to the public total until after we had reached the total otherwise. I did add $400 and then $600 of it in when donations were slowing down, just to liven things up a bit and improve our rank on the Gofundme site. The first Inquirer article hit on Jan. 6. By the end of the day, our online total had surpassed our goal of $15,000! Then I added in the remaining $8,000. For the next several days donations kept coming in from all over the world. Bethann & I were almost full-time writing thank you notes. Jan. 8, the second Inquirer article came out. Gofundme also featured our story in an email to their supporters. We received over $5,000 during the day from complete strangers, then got up the next morning to discover that we had received more than $1,000 from Australia!  By the 16th, we had raised over $40,000 and had arranged to pay to reinstate the mortgage, as well as eliminate other outstanding debts. We also were able to help a neighbor from losing his home and help a few other folks along the way, leaving enough in The King’s Jubilee’s account to fund the ministry, including a secure base at our house, for the next year.

On the 17th, the Intelligencer did a feature article about us. On the 28th, the Huffington Post chose me as one of eighteen people who the President should have invited to attend the State of the Union Address, referencing the first Inquirer article and the Gofundme site. Today, the local paper, the Souderton Independent used the whole front page of its Living section with an article about us, with huge color pictures.

We have had more positive press in one month than in the rest of the 25 years prior. It is an interesting dynamic with the people on the street. They read the papers. Several of them congratulated or blessed me on Thursday night for the success of the fundraising campaign. One fellow, who seemed intensely shy, took time to speak with me, to tell me how pleased he was that we had been blessed in this way. Some of the guys wanted me to tell all of you “Thank You” for your support of The King’s Jubilee, because we serve the best meal of the week. I’m just passing it on. This is your ministry. We could not do it without all of you supporting it. I just get to give away other people’s stuff. God bless you!

More than enough blankets!

cropped-tkjprofile.jpgI tend to be pretty loosey goosey about planning for food for Thursday nights on the street. I have always felt that whatever God provided was right. Many times I would look at what was in the car and say that it must be going to be a small crowd that night. Other times, the car would be full, and I would know that the crowd would be large. Years ago, my godfather, Alex Smerkanich, of blessed memory, asked me how many sandwiches I needed on an average night. I told him I had no idea. He was very Type A, so he was not at all happy with my answer. He recruited people to sign up to make sandwiches on certain weeks of the month and wanted to know how many loaves he needed to get commitments for. I told him that I had never had to bring any home. His goal was to get me so many sandwiches that I had to bring some home. OK. Within three months, he did that, so he knew his ballpark number. We really don’t know if we have met all the need unless there are leftovers.

We regularly give out blankets. Normally we have to ration them out to whoever asked first for them. The last two weeks we have had a wonderful experience! We were able to just put all the blankets out and let everyone take as many as they wanted or needed. The week before last, I hollered to give away the last one and someone took it to give it to someone who wasn’t there. Last week I took two home. These are beautiful, plush blankets made by the Matushka Olga Sewing Group at St. Philip Orthodox Church, Souderton, PA. God bless you! We also gave away many scarves made from the remnants of the fabric. It was like a free bazaar!

What a blessing!

More Good Press

I was interviewed, photographed, and taped on January 3 by a reporter from the Intelligencer whose editor felt bad about being scooped on the story by the Phila. Inquirer. The Intell finally published the story yesterday, Jan. 16. It was available online free for just one day, then it went up behind a $9.99 annual paywall. I bought three copies, so I think I can share one article online.

Occasionally I say something right to a reporter. This time it actually got through the filter:

“I’m having fun when I’m doing this … This is just me being me. If everyone would just be who they are really supposed to be, everyone would be doing something good and right.”

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To honor Fr. Christos

ChristofidisFather Christos Christofidis is being transferred from Holy Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Elkins Park, PA to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Wilmington, DE, the end of this month. For the last few years Fr. Christos & Presvytera Joanna have led a team of cheerful volunteers to serve with us among the homeless. A couple of years ago, they took over providing all of the food for the last week of the month, with Presvy. Joanna doing the lion’s share of the preparation. We thank them for their service and their friendship. They don’t serve out of a do-gooder mentality, but out of a truly human spirit of humility and kindness. As for the food, the golden rule is observed. The guys always look forward to “Greek night.”

In Honor and Love of Father Christos from the Annunciation Bible Study Class, a $100 donation has been made to The King’s Jubilee.

Good Press

I have always been leery of the press. I usually try to avoid them.  Charli Riggle, who really got the ball rolling to do the 12 Days of Almsgiving for me to start the GoFundMe campaign on the day after Christmas, also got the ball rolling to get an article in the Phila. Inquirer. The reporter, Claudia Vargas, came and watched me prepare soup for two and a half hours, then waited for us in the blowing snow and cold in center city. I wasn’t sure what would impress her out of all that. In the end, it is positive. It is available online at www.philly.com.
Here are jpegs of the article:

 

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Teen SOYO Eastern Region Delegates Meeting

Last weekend, one of the service projects at the Teen SOYO Eastern Region Delegates Meeting hosted at St. Philip Antiochian Orthodox Church, Souderton, was to make power packs for The King’s Jubilee. Young people from different churches brought different parts of the kits and then assembled them last Saturday. Some brought juice boxes. Some brought granola bars. Some brought boxes of raisins. Some brought cracker and cheese packs. Some brought packs of peanuts.

They put them  into paper lunch bags. They assembled 300 complete power packs. We have several boxes of leftover ingredients to give out two weeks from now. We handed out the power packs last night. Some we gave to members of Eastern University’s YACHT Club for them to take with them as they went elsewhere in their ministry among the homeless.

These power packs provide a breakfast or lunch for the next day for the people we serve. They were very grateful to receive them.

Thanks! May God bless you.

Monthly Donations are Easier Now

The King’s Jubilee is an independently incorporated religious charitable organization in the state of Pennsylvania. We rely on donations from individuals and various churches to support the work which we do. With the state of the economy, and the situation in the City of Philadelphia, that work has increased. We currently are serving over 200 people on Thursday evenings. We are actually providing them the equivalent of two meals each: a hot meal to consume then, and a bag lunch for the next day.

We also help people when they move off of the street. We supply them with a full complement of cleaning supplies. We also find furniture, dishes, bedding,etc., to help them set up household so they can make a go of it. We stay in contact with those that wish to, to help them acclimate to their new surroundings. It can be a big adjustment. We also help some with their rent from time to time. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

As I have been typing this, the sheriff came to my door and served me with our foreclosure papers. We may soon join the ranks of the homeless and this ministry will end. We have been living from crisis to crisis with my illnesses until my business was no longer viable. Trying to do the business and the ministry was just too much. Then infections and hospitalizations and 30 t0 50 little strokes. Bethann lost her job, etc. We have had to pay $1100/month to make sure we had insurance. What we needed was full time support from lots of monthly donors. What we need now is a rescue, then full time support from lots of monthly donors.

The Donate button has been upgraded by Paypal to accept automatic monthly donations. You may go back to the home page or to the bottom of this post. Click on the yellow Donate button and make a large one time rescue donation, please! Then come back to the page; click on it again and make a reasonable monthly donation.

Thank you. May God bless you as you bless the poor in Jesus’ Name.