Tuesday, December 24, 2013

For the Least of Our Brothers December 20, 2013

This year it was Ron Krier, Mike Volko, Pete Murphy, Tom Conte, and Andrew Rumbold (myself). It was unseasonably warm this year with a high around 60F.  As in the past few years we solicited donations and are grateful to those who selflessly gave money or clothing.  We were trying to remember how long we have been doing this, it has to be close to 10 years.

This year we got a late start because we were still looking for warm jackets, we had tried Kmart, Walmart, even Kohls the night before and come up empty.  It's strange how some years we can find such a great selection and other years nothing.  So we stopped at a different Kmart on the way to the city and found a few.
50 Bag Lunches from Silvio's Deli
Donated and purchased items

Custom coat rack

This year was a little different because Ron had sold his van, so we relied on Mike towing a trailer.  It was actually a blessing because we had Tom along this year giving haircuts, and we set him up in the trailer with a pair of clippers, a battery and backup generator, stool, and a light.  He used to own a salon, and gave about 7-8 haircuts during the day and was definitely a hit among the guys we met.


We started out as usual right at City Hall by the giant paperclip.  For some reason we never seem to have trouble parking as long as we leave someone with the vehicle, even sitting up to an hour.  So a few of us headed down into the subway with bag lunches from Silvio's Deli (purchased at a discount thank you!) and found some homeless right away.   The usual approach- we profile and ask if they can use a meal, then tell them we have some clothing and ask what they can really use before either heading back to the vehicle with them or just retrieving things and coming back.  In the meantime Tom started giving haircuts in the trailer.

Next we headed a few blocks over to Love Park, found a few more guys for haircuts and lunches, including James who is a veteran.

James before
James after, haircut and new jacket

Due to the late start and giving haircuts, we didn't do as much driving around as we typically would.  Last stop was on the Ben Franklin parkway where we found a whole bunch of guys who were outdoors.  We gave out the remainder of the 50 lunches and a few more haircuts.  Also most of the sleeping bags and tarps here.  Tom moved his barbershop outside for more light.

We got a late start home and got caught in some major traffic.  Another successful mission this year, again thanks to those who donated!

Maybe we can be a little more prepared next year by buying in advance.  Definitely could use more duffle bags and tarps next year.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

For the Least of Our Brothers 2011

Sitting here at my computer the day after our annual charity run, my thoughts & prayers can't help but to go out to those homeless we met yesterday, and the ones we didn't meet.  The things most of us take for granted- a roof over our head, hot shower, warm bed, regular meals- there are many here in our midst who look upon these as daily blessings.

This year it was myself, Ron Krier, and Mike Volko who made what has become an annual day of giving to the homeless in Center City Philadelphia.  This year we gave away 44 bag lunches from Silvio's Deli in Hatboro, they bake the rolls fresh on premises and are delicious even to those of us who have regular meals.  We also had a good selection of winter coats, hats, gloves, socks, underwear, thermal underwear, toiletries, sleeping bags, and backpacks that we purchased new in the days before.  

We headed straight for City Hall as we usually do, to head down into the subway by the giant clothespin.  On the way down Mike was dividing the toiletries up into plastic bags to make it easier. Before we even made it there we noticed a few folks on the sidewalks and handed out some lunches and supplies.  We stay away from shelters and try to focus on those folks who also stay away from them because of the trouble that can happen when you get any group together who are competing for limited resources.  This way we also get to spend a minute or two of time in conversation with them and let them know that someone cares.  

It was very warm this year, above 60F and we had to change our tactics somewhat.  Usually the homeless are down below in 15th Street Station or Suburban Station trying to stay warm.  With the warm weather they were out and about more. It can be challenging to identify those in real need, as there are plenty of people out just trying to take advantage of whatever situation they can.  If we're handing out supplies from the van it tends to attract attention of those just looking for free stuff.  We think we get better at weeding them out every year but who really knows?

This year we encountered more ladies than ever before, mostly it is men we find.  We found Linda off to the side in 15th St Station reading the Bible and gave her lunch and some supplies.  Alicia was on the sidewalk and really needed a sleeping bag so we hooked her up. Some folks are very wary and even decline the offer of a meal even though you can tell they need it.  We break the ice with an offer of a good lunch and then try to find out what they really need whether it be a pair of gloves or a sleeping bag.  They will often tell you just what they need, and then point out someone else who can use something.  Some have been out on the streets for 7 years or more, one man I met said it was his first night out.  Sometimes we find a camp, its amazing what they can put together and even more amazing where they are tucked in right next to life as usual in the city.  

Some notes for myself to help in planning next year- a few more sleeping bags, tarps and backpacks would have been good.  Some things for ladies.  Packages of toiletries were good, could have used a few more.  44 lunches was a lot to hand out for the 3 of us, in the end we started giving 2 a person.  Start a little earlier to try and maximize our limited dollars.  We estimate we spent almost $1,000 this year and appreciate the few monetary donations we received!  

On the way out of the city we were talking about how the day went and Mike talked about calling it Project Homeless.  I told him that I came up with a different name last year- "For the Least of Our Brothers" based on the following from the book of Matthew:

    “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
    “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
    “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
    “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
    “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
    “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
    “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” - Matthew 25:31-46

Here are a few photos:

Friday, October 16, 2009


This review is for the ACN IRIS 3000 Videophone. This phone is a voice over IP (VOIP) phone that promises unlimited calls to the US, Canada, & Puerto Rico and unlimited videophone calls between other ACN videophones, all for the monthly cost of about $40 after taxes & fees.

It is necessary to have a broadband internet connection for this phone to operate. It is supposed to be easy to plug in and turn on, making it appealing for folks with limited technical skills. Also the promise of seeing the person you are talking to is exciting and this promises to be the next wave of technology.

I purchased the phone when I signed up as a representative for ACN, this review in no way reflects an opinion on the opportunity the company provides.

The phone had some high expectations to live up to. Installation was easy- just plug the phone into a high speed internet connection and turn the power on. It registered just fine and voice quality was good. Video quality with other phones took a little time to optimize and was good at best. The largest issue is that the video part only works with other ACN phones and to this date the only people I know who have one are ACN reps or their families.

A few other features of the phone are worth mentioning. You can connect another phone to it and use that for voice calls (cordless phone). You can also plug a USB drive or SD photo card and it will show photos on the 7" screen. I did have to return my original device because of a problem with the screen and it was replaced for free under warranty.

Over the past 6 months I have used the phone extensively in my home office. My complaints are as follows. As anyone who uses a corded phone can attest to, handset cords tend to get tangled after any considerable amount of use- this cord is permanently attached to the handset so is not easily replaceable nor can you use a swivel with it. The speakerphone works well as a speaker can. The larger issues are connectivity and the phone operation itself. Mine frequently drops calls and 'locks up' and must be power cycled, at a rate of at least once per day. Sometimes when you pick up the handset to make a call it takes 10-15 seconds to respond. I have put in several support requests and have made changes in my router to give the phone a static IP address and also open all ports recommended by ACN. I also have a 25/15 MBps FIOS connetion which is the fastest you can get. Not good for a device that promises to be easy to use.

Despite all my issues, so far ACN refuses to waive their early termination fee if I cancel before the 2 year committment is up. I intend to cancel service anyways because the phone is clearly not up to par with what I expect for phone service. My wife hit the nail on the head when she said it was more of a novelty. I am certain that video calls are the future of communication and hopefully ACN will get it right soon. I would not recommend this phone to anyone.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Delaware River Canoe Trip 2009

This was the 25th annual trip organized by my friend Jeff. Its on the upper Delaware starting at Skinners Falls and ending in Minisink, about 25 miles. We leave on Friday and stay at Jeffs place at Lake Wallenpaupack and then Saturday we do about 13 miles to our campsite along the river. This year we stretched it out another day to spend a full day at the campsite which was fun. We leave vehicles parked at strategic places so we don't have to carry all the gear the whole way. We caught a bunch of smallmouth bass with 2 keepers that we had for dinner. The campsite is not a commercial one and we've been lucky not to show up there while someone else is there- or should I say they've been lucky!

Thanks for Jeff for organizing another great trip this year and to Wilton for being the camp bitch.

Here is a link to the photos

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Catching up

So this spring we moved our garden to a better spot in our yard and started a compost pile. We started a bunch of greens from seeds and when we finally got them in it started the rainy month of June which held them back but as you will see things are looking up. We got 3 more chickens for a total of 8 hens, the new ones should start laying in the next month or so.

We're keeping busy with our regular jobs and also trying to get the soap business going. No big plans for this summer other than some weekends up at the lake.

Springtime pics- the wisteria was awesome again

Garden pics


Our neighbors brew beer and have started some hops along the fence.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Dorinda in the News!

We had a story done in the local paper on Wash Tyme and Freedom Fuel! Check it out below:

PhillyBurbs.com: Clean and green

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Phillies Game

Andy got to go to the Phillies v Braves game yesterday with a few friends courtesy of Frederick Mutual. The seats were awesome and we got to see the Phillies come from a 10-3 deficit to win the game! We were sitting a few seats away from our Governor Ed Rendell. The beer was cold and the peanuts were good.