Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, located on 13th at Vine Street, is both the largest emergency shelter and largest indoor feeder of the homeless in the Center City area.
Executive Director Dick McMillen (above) was first introduced to the world of rescue mission work when he was in high school and has been involved ever since.
“When I was young, I started volunteering at the rescue mission in my hometown five-days a week for about an hour each night,” McMillen said. “I never knew that it would lead to what I’d be doing for the rest of my life. In a lot of ways, it would seem like I have more potential to be a resident of a rescue mission than the director of one.”
Growing up, McMillen was raised in subsidized housing and had various family issues – both his dad and brother were alcoholics, his sister was abused by her husband and he himself had “gotten into some knife confrontations.”
McMillen found that turning to religion made a big difference in his life. It is also a large part of the mission’s work.
“Our counseling and teachings are based on different passages from the Bible and we share that with the men,” McMillen said. “In my life, I’ve found that Jesus Christ and a relationship with him makes a tremendous difference. To share that with others is rewarding.”
Along with counseling, men can get involved in programs to get their GED’s, get vocational training, put together a resume and learn how to deal with the issues that brought him into homelessness as part of the Overcomers Program.
William Munchback (right), who participates in the Overcomers Program, has gotten training in ServSafe food handling and currently helps out in the kitchen.
“We learn things about food service operations and kitchen regulations,” Munchback said. “I’ve learned a lot since I came here.”
The kitchen at Sunday Breakfast is constantly busy getting ready for the three meals served each day. The staff depends upon donations from churches, offices, colleges and individuals to help them ensure that they have enough to provide. Morris Robinson, another overcomer, often helps to prepare the foods for the meals.
“Sunday Breakfast has helped me out, so I want to help them out,” Robinson, below, said.
McMillen recognizes that although it’s not the only shelter and feeder in the Philadelphia area, Sunday Breakfast is a vital part of the Loft District/Chinatown community.
“There are so many people who need help,” McMillen said. “It takes a lot of agencies to come together to really meet the needs of the homeless.”
– Story, images and video by Ariane Pepsin.