First Presbyterian Church of Phoenixville is recognized as a leader in service, confirming God’s hand in this ministry.
Our journey began on the streets of Philadelphia with Trevor’s Campaign. What started out as a one-time trip into the city to see what feeding on the streets would be like became a journey of faith. One that we now celebrate 33 years! In those days casseroles or large pots of a bean or meat dish would be handed out from the back of the Suburban or van. We made five or six stops along the streets of the city, feeding about 75 men, women and children, many making the subway concourse their home.
We quickly signed up for once monthly and involved the youth groups. In the 1980’s a challenge to Make a Difference prompted the idea of helping the homeless begin a day with hope. Our thought was to provide a breakfast of scrambled eggs, pancakes, orange juice, a pastry and tea. So we began traveling into the city to serve a breakfast. We now serve the third Saturday of each month for a breakfast.
An important part of each meal is also serving the residence the sweets. So to supply our need for 400 plus desserts each feeding, we have a small group of volunteers picking up leftover pastry from grocery stores and bakeries around the area each Wednesday morning.
Money was needed; so we began gathering to make and sell crafts under the name “People to People”.
Our needs were met by many members of the congregation baking, donating food, warm coats and jackets, hats, gloves, socks and blankets. The congregation responded with many eager to buy or to sell our creations. We began our Garage Sales on the church parking lot, selling spots to other vendors and food. After a rainy Saturday, the sale was moved inside where it continues today, with a sale in March and September.
As the household items came pouring in from both the congregation and the community with clothing and health care items; we became recyclers, sending needed items to PACS (Phoenixville Area Community Services), Healthy Start, St Mary’s Shelter, Good Samaritan Shelter, Phoenixville Senior Center, Phoenixville Learning Center, Cornerstone Clubhouse, Penn Psychiatric Center, Liberty House, St Peters’ Place, Episcopal House, Eagleville Hospital, King Terrace, The Williamson Trade School and Commodore Barry Elementary School (Philadelphia). Clothing has also been collected for delivery to Ghana, Ecuador, Iraq, Zimbabwe and England. The Clothes Closet (aka FPC Boutique) has served about 125 adults and 95 children through about 15 free clothing distributions along with two onsite distributions each year.
Additional income source has been the sale of flea market items on E-bay or consignment shops.
People to People has been awarded a grant from The Javie Foundation for Charity, Exelon and Presbytery.
We currently feed at the following locations:
- Outley House – Men’s Shelter, 69th &Woodland Street, Philadelphia, PA – In 1992, working with Mayor Ed Rendell, we partnered to adopt Outley House, a city shelter run by Self, INC. Since that time we feed bi-monthly 200 men with an array of social problems. The problems are addressed through supportive counseling, case management services, and referral to appropriate community based resources. We also provide: Clothing, a Love Dinner each February of turkeys donated, cooked, and cleaned by members and friends of our congregation, and at Christmas we provide a Christmas gift for each client of a handmade scarf also made by church members and friends of our congregation.
- Our Brothers Place, 9th and Hamilton Streets, Philadelphia, PA. This shelter is run by the Bethesda Project. The 200-plus homeless men may be residents or come for meals only as they continue to live on the streets
If you are interested in helping with this cause, please get in touch with the church at 610-933-8816.