Keeping Families Close with Hosts for Hospitals

hostsforhospitalswebMembers at Main Line Unitarian Church are always looking for inspiring non-profit organizations to team up with, and Philadelphia-based Hosts for Hospitals was a natural fit for the church’s Offering Outreach program. The organization provides free lodging for family members of patients who come to the Greater Philadelphia area for specialized medical care. Hosts for Hospitals organizes a network of volunteers who open their homes so that family members can focus on supporting their loved ones in a time of need rather than worry about the financial costs of being together.

Hosts for Hospitals was founded in 2000, after Executive Director Michael Aichenbaum had successfully beaten leukemia with the help of a bone marrow transplant. While receiving treatment in New York, his family racked up $20,000 in housing expenses to be with him. When he had the opportunity to start an organization that would help families in similar situations, he knew he had to take it.

Because of excellent local facilities such as Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, patients and families come from all over the world to receive the best medical care. Hosts for Hospitals has placed families from all 50 states and more than 85 countries, including 100 Haitian families in 2010.

Main Line Unitarian Church Trustee J.B. Hillman recognized the amazing work Hosts for Hospitals has accomplished in their 12 years. He said, “The mission of Hosts for Hospitals is aligned with our core Unitarian Universalist values of service and dignity. An organization that provides shelter and reduces stress for those in crisis is worthy of not only our financial gifts, but, as several of our members regularly demonstrate, our direct involvement in hosting these individuals and families. We are honored to offer our gifts in support of Hosts for Hospitals.”

Aichenbaum recently visited Main Line Unitarian Church to meet with Rev. Morgan McLean and express his gratitude at being selected as the church’s Offering Outreach organization for the month of December. Through the program, the church donates half of the monthly collection to a deserving non-profit or charity. Hosts for Hospitals received a donation of $2,108.

Aichenbaum said, “This timely donation will help us move forward with some of our core projects. Most immediately we will be able to continue shooting videos of hosts with their guests, which we post on YouTube to inspire other local families to volunteer for the program. With more hosts, over the coming months we will be able to offer free lodging to more patient-families with long-term needs, such as when a loved one is hospitalized at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital in Malvern, or the Crozier Burn Center in Upland.”

To learn more about Hosts for Hospitals, make a donation, or volunteer as a host, visit www.hostsforhospitals.org. To view past organizations that have been a part of the Main Line Unitarian Church Offering Outreach program, visit www.mluc.org/social-action/offering-outreach.

Photo: Hosts for Hospitals Executive Director Michael Aichenbaum receives a donation check in the amount of $2,108 from Rev. Morgan R. McLean of Main Line Unitarian Church. Hosts for Hospitals provides free lodging for family members of patients who come to the Greater Philadelphia area for specialized medical care. The church’s Offering Outreach program donates half of the monthly collection to a deserving non-profit organization. Photo courtesy of MLUC Communications.

Helping Baker Industries Put People Back to Work

bakerindustrieswebMembers of Main Line Unitarian Church immediately recognized the innovative approach of not-for-profit outsourcing and fulfillment company Baker Industries. Volunteers from the church witnessed the application of small business practices to a work rehabilitation program that employs people with disabilities, recovering substance abusers, individuals on parole, and homeless persons.

Stories of economic success are rare enough, but for a company to thrive while providing a living wage to traditionally hard-to-employ people—that is a model for success. Employees in Philadelphia and Malvern, PA are getting the chance to gain a solid work ethic in a supportive, hands-on setting. Many alumni of the program find work in other companies or within the staff of Baker Industries.

On Friday, December 16, Rev. Dr. Justin Osterman met with Baker Industries President John H. "Turk" Thacher, Jr. and Director of Community Relations Jacqueline Johnston and presented them with a check for $2,397 because the company was selected as the church’s Offering Outreach organization for the month of November.

Thacher said of the donation, "At Baker Industries, 65–70 percent of the funding we need each year comes from the services we perform for some 100 customers. The balance we receive from generous individuals and wonderful private organizations such as Main Line Unitarian Church. The church’s Offering Outreach contribution will go toward serving approximately 300 of our workers in their goal to transition into the workplace.

"Baker neither solicits nor accepts any government funds, allowing us to have complete control over our program. On behalf of all of us at Baker: Thank You! Support from our community is particularly meaningful to us. Please come and visit us to see your generosity at work!"

Baker Industries is exactly the type of organization that members of Main Line Unitarian Church consider when they make nominations for the Offering Outreach program, which designates half of the church's monthly collection to a nonprofit organization. Baker Industries is helping some of our most vulnerable citizens to find work, recover their sense of personal dignity, and contribute to society in ways that benefit everyone. To offer a few hours at Baker Industries, or to help plan the several annual fundraising events, visit www.bakerindustries.org. To learn more about the church's Offering Outreach program, visit www.mluc.org/social-action/offering-outreach.

Photo: Rev. Dr. Justin Osterman of Main Line Unitarian Church in Devon, PA (center) presents a check to Baker Industries President John H. "Turk" Thacher, Jr. (right) and Director of Community Relations Jacqueline Johnston (left) in the amount of $2,397. The nonprofit company provides employment for people with disabilities, recovering substance abusers, individuals on parole, and homeless persons. The company was selected in November for the church's Offering Outreach program, which designates half of its monthly collection to nonprofit organizations that put their values into action. Photo by Ed MacDonald.

Working to End Homelessness with Interfaith Hospitality Network

ihnoutreachMembers at Main Line Unitarian Church (MLUC) are proud to be partners with the Interfaith Hospitality Network – Main Line (IHN-ML) in working to end homelessness in local communities. As part of the church’s Offering Outreach program, MLUC recently presented a donation check of $2,374 to IHN-ML.

The Interfaith Hospitality Network – Main Line, headquartered in Norristown, PA, is committed to helping homeless families to achieve lasting independence. The organization provides safe, temporary housing, meals, and support services to families in Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties.

While not a religious organization, IHN-ML does get many of its volunteers from faith-based organizations. Congregations from many different faiths work together toward the important goal of helping homeless families get back on their feet.

Executive Director Sue White-Herchek was happy to participate in MLUC’s check presentation. She said, “IHN – Main Line would like to thank the Main Line Unitarian Church for their generous donation. It will go a long way to help the homeless families we serve become self-sufficient. We value our partnership with area congregations, whose volunteers provide meals and hospitality for our families. Our organization would not exist without them. To volunteer with IHN – Main Line please call Sue at 610-277-0977.”

Rev. Morgan R. McLean, who became Associate Minister at MLUC in August, 2011, was joined by church member Sally Fritzson for the presentation. Fritzson is one of the church’s IHN coordinators, and sets up the four or five family visits each year, as well as facilitates training of new volunteers.

The church’s donation was made possible by the Offering Outreach program, which directs half of each month’s collection to be donated to local charities and nonprofit organizations. To learn more about the program, visit www.mluc.org/social-action/offering-outreach.

IHN-ML is one of 115 affiliates in 38 states, including Family Promise in Washington, D.C., whose opening 20 years ago marked the genesis of the now national network. To get involved with IHN Main Line, visit www.ihncares.org.

Photo: Sue White-Hercheck, Executive Director of Interfaith Hospitality Network – Main Line (center), receives a donation check from Rev. Morgan R. McLean (right), and Sally Fritzson, of Main Line Unitarian Church, in the amount of $2,374. Volunteers from the church work with the organization to help end homelessness in Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties.