Monthly Archives: January 2013

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Volunteering With the Atlantic City Rescue Mission

It was 11:30 am. The staff and volunteers of the Atlantic City Rescue Mission were ready.

For the previous hour or two, a team of volunteers from a local girl scout troop had prepared a lunch of stew and sandwiches. Chad and I put together fruit and cookie trays while also preparing potatoes for the evening meal.

The windows were opened, revealing a long line of about 75 men in crisis waiting quietly and patiently for their lunch. While the ladies got right to work serving the first people in line, I briefly was mesmorized by the faces and demeanor of these men. Quite a few looked like educated business professionals. They were appreciative of the meal they were receiving. They were polite and quite a few joked pleasantly with the servers.

The Atlantic City Rescue Mission strives to meet the physical, emotional and other basic needs of the poor and those who are bound and bruised by addictive lifestyles in Atlantic City and the surrounding communities. They provide shelter, clothing, food, counseling, referrals, and structured programs. They do this because the organization loves the people God loves, the people who humbly cry out in despair in their time of adversity.

Charles Wagner working in kitchen at Atlantic City Rescue MissionThe men who I saw enjoying a meal that had been cooked with love were people like me. They were people like you. What really is the difference between the “haves” and the “have-nots”? The Bible describes Job as a wealthy man who did everything right in life. To have emassed such a fortune, he must have been educated and skilled.

However, disaster struck for reasons that were beyond his control. Everything that made his life a pleasure was taken from him suddenly. He lost his wealth, his ability to earn an income, his beloved children, and his health. He was in despair and in great need, just like these men who had sought the help of the Atlantic City Rescue Mission.

Chad Wagner, helping to clean up after the meal at the Atlantic City Rescue MissionEach one of these men have talents and gifts that society can benefit from. They have value and worth. It is organizations like the Atlantic City Rescue Mission that gives these men the opportunity to heal so that they can give back to society. Compassion for a person in need is really work for the greater good of society.

Upon arrival at the mission, Chad and I were introduced to Tyrone Holloway, the head chef at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission.

Tyrone is a spiritually powerful man who is bursting with the love of God and the love of people. This man clearly has had an encounter with God. He has conviction, courage, and compassion. He shared his inspiring story with Chad and I, which included eight years of imprisonment, a time where Tyrone discovered faith and healing of mind and spirit in scripture.

Tyrone Holloway, the head chef at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, talks with Chad WagnerAfter leading us in a brief prayer, Tyrone put Chad and I to work. We were asked to open a dozen or so large cans of stew and put them into pans for heating. We were then asked to take a huge pot of sliced potatoes (and I mean huge), add seasoning, and to put them on trays that could be cooked in the oven. We were asked to make about 120 cups of fruit followed by the task putting cookies onto napkins for desert for the men.

While we did this work, a Girl Scout troop also volunteered in the kitchen. I believe they prepared sandwiches. When all of the volunteers were done our work, Tyrone took us on a tour of the facility. He shared with us how corporate sponsors donate so much of the food and supplies that serve the nutrition of the guests of the mission. We were informed that a cousin of a major Hollywood celebrity, a name I don’t feel at liberty to share but who I know is a name known in every US home, is coming this Wednesday on a mission to donate meat.

It is clear that Tyrone loves his job because he loves the God who loves the people in need who he feeds!

Atlantic City Rescue Mission

We returned to the kitchen. The women got ready to serve and the window was opened up as described above. Chad and I were left with nothing to do for a few moments. We took a look at the huge pile of dirty pots, pans and cooking utensils and we offered to get to work. Tyrone pulled us aside to express his thanks to God for what we were doing. Apparently, the regular dishwasher didn’t come to work and Tyrone credited God for delivering two people to do the job.

“Nothing is a coincidence!” said a passionate Tyrone, giving credit to God for everything good in life.

Exterior of Atlantic City Rescue MissionChad and I thank God for another wonderful stop on our Gramazin Journey. Next? Miriam’s Kitchen in Washington, DC in February.

He must have been persuasive in business and connected with powerful people.

Like people all over the world, I was very concerned about the residents of the New Jersey coast when Hurricane Sandy made landfall in October 2012.

The first evidence of the impact of the hurricane that I saw on television or the Internet were photos of the destruction of a major section of the Atlantic City boardwalk. I remember feeling a giant “Oh, no!” in my heart, wondering what would happen to other coastal communities I had often visited in my youth.

As Chad and I drove through Atlantic City on our visit to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, we had difficulty finding evidence of storm damage. It has been three months since the storm hit and, with many world famous casinos located in town, it is unlikely there would be much to see.

We just happened to be heading north on Pacific Avenue, which terminates at Altman Park on the beach. We had no idea that this was the exact location of the pictures of the boardwalk destruction that had been broadcast on news reports.

The boardwalk has not been repaired. The concrete pylons remain, except this time holding only the weight of an inch or two of snow. The first floor windows of the red brick building in the photo back in October are now covered with plywood.

While I am no meteorologist, the destruction of this section of the boardwalk on the north end of town appears to this novice to be evidence of the circular motion of a hurricane, with the winds from the north sweeping the surge onto the northern end of the island.

The snowy concrete pylons, which Chad climbed on to take pictures, are reminders that there are many families on the East Coast who have not recovered from the storm. We need to do more than to remember them in our prayers. We need to help them rebuild!

Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, photo from Huffington Post

Photo of destruction of Atlantic City Boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy, October 2012.

The remains of the Atlantic City boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy

Same location during visit by Gramazin in January 2013.

Gramazin observed Hurricane Sandy boardwalk destruction at northern end of Atlantic City, NJ

Charles Wagner, in January 2013, standing at site of destruction of Atlantic City Boardwalk.

Atlantic Ocean in Atlantic City NJ, January 26, 2013

Atlantic Ocean in January 2013.

Snow covered Atlantic City, NJ boardwalk on Gramazin visitAtlantic City Boardwalk in January 2013.


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Active Compassion Philly Feeds Philadelphia Homeless

 

Chad and I experienced so many wonderful things today.  We joined other volunteers and helped prepare a meal for the monthly dinner for the homeless hosted by Active Compassion Philly, a ministry of 10th Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA.

However, nothing was as incredible as the 15 minute conversation I had with Sherry.  She stole my heart!

I want you to consider her Gramazin story.  She is not only confined to an electric wheelchair but she spent most of the afternoon lying on her back because of her medical condition.  That didn’t stop her from navigating her wheelchair around the room, helping to set the tables for the homeless who would shortly arrive for a meal.  She was here today under considerably difficult circumstances to serve others in need.  Her extreme adversity didn’t defeat her.  She was victorious over it.  It didn’t stop her from loving others.  What a message for thousands of people across the US who are suffering with adversity!  We don’t have to be defeated!  We can become inspirational!

The interior of 10th Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA during worship service

Sherry was passionate about the need for the residents of nursing homes to be able live independently and safely on their own.  She is an advocate for the cause, having traveled to Washington DC and having sent letters to leaders at the federal and state level.  She has a purpose in life.  Her physical limitations don’t stop her.  May God bless her!

After our SEPTA train ride from Malvern, PA this morning, Chad and I attended 11 am services at the church.  The message of Dr. Liam Goligher was fittingly entitled “Where Mercy Reigns”.  The notes scribbled all over my church bulletin attest to how the message spoke to the very heart of Gramazin.

Chad and I walked upstairs to fellowship hall.  We were greeted by David Apple, Executive Director of Active Compassion Philly, who I have had the pleasure to know for nearly five years.  He and volunteers were already at work preparing the room for the meal.

After helping to setup the tables and chairs, we were put to work preparing the beverages and turkey ham sandwiches.  I was impressed by the organization and the attention to detail, which included making sure caps were worn, hands were washed, and clean gloves were continuously worn.  The team worked in an assembly line fashion, putting the meat into the roll, slicing and inserting the tomatoes, and adding lettuce.  Approximately 75 sandwiches were prepared in less than a half hour.  The meal also included coleslaw and delicious soup.

Chad Wagner making sandwiches at Active Compassion PhillyThe guests began to arrive after they attended a worship service conducted especially for them downstairs.  After a brief prayer, a team from the youth group of Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia got busy serving the food and getting the guests drinks.  A volunteer from the church sat at each table, helping extend friendship and love to everyone who enjoyed the meal.

Vivian Dow has been a leader in this ministry for over 20 years.  She has continued the commitment she and her late husband made together to meet the needs of the homeless years before his passing in 2002.  She explained to me how the ministry has made a pledge to serve the homeless with waiters, giving them the same dignity and respect that other individuals receive at fine restaurants.  Compassion and mercy are about treating others with honor, regardless of the circumstance they are in.  David Apple believes the homeless need to know their long-term spiritual needs are just as important as the need they have for a decent meal.

It was a day of inspiration for both Chad and I.  We ask God’s blessings on each person we saw today, whether they were in the role of a volunteer or a guest.

A special thanks goes tonight to Sherry for touching my life in a big way.

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Sarah Brubaker, volunteer with Active Compassion PhillySarah Brubaker, volunteer with Active Compassion Philly SEPTA train that took Charles and Chad to PhiladelphiaSEPTA train that took Charles and Chad to Philadelphia
ACTS team setting up for homeless dinnerACTS team setting up for homeless dinner Sherry, volunteer with Active Compassion PhillySherry, volunteer with Active Compassion Philly
Ceiling of 10th Presbyterian ChurchCeiling of 10th Presbyterian Church The exterior of 10th Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PAThe exterior of 10th Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA
The interior of 10th Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA during worship serviceThe interior of 10th Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA during worship service Vivian Dow, volunteer with Active Compassion PhillyVivian Dow, volunteer with Active Compassion Philly
Guests enjoying meal served by Active Compassion PhillyGuests enjoying meal served by Active Compassion Philly Chad Wagner making sandwiches at Active Compassion PhillyChad Wagner making sandwiches at Active Compassion Philly

Charles Wagner, of Gramazin, and David Apple, of Active Compassion Philly, January 13, 2013

Charles Wagner, of Gramazin, and David Apple, of Active Compassion Philly, January 13, 2013

Charles Wagner, of Gramazin, volunteering at Active Compassion Philly

Charles Wagner, of Gramazin, volunteering at Active Compassion Philly

Philadelphia City Hall on foggy January 13, 2013

Philadelphia City Hall on foggy January 13, 2013

Owusu Ansah, volunteer with Active Compassion Philly

Owusu Ansah, volunteer with Active Compassion Philly

Philadelphia skyline on Gramazin visit to Active Compassion Philly

Philadelphia skyline on Gramazin visit to Active Compassion Philly

 


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This is an archived website. Visit www.gramazin.com for our newest website. We maintain this older website because we believe content on here is still relevant to people in crisis.