By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia organization that fought the city for the right to feed the city’s homeless on street corners — and won — is days away from opening a new, indoor dining facility in West Philadelphia.
But they need the public’s help to jump one final hurdle.
“We’re working around the clock to make this happen,” says Brian Jenkins, co-founder of Chosen 300 Ministries (seen in doorway in top photo).
The nonprofit group has spent the past two years transforming an old bank building near 40th Street and Lancaster Avenue into a top-notch, three-story dining facility.
“We have the chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, we have the custom paint job, the hardwood floors,” Jenkins says with apparent pride. “That way, when people come here, they won’t feel like this is the ‘poor people’s’ meal.’ ”
The new location will also offer job training, grooming, and other services.
And, Jenkins adds, they’re almost at the finish line thanks to Jay Hambleton of Hambleton Builders, who has spent scores of hours volunteering.
“When you see the lives that he’s affected,” Hambleton says of Jenkins, “that’s why I do this.”
Wendell Alston (below left), a former drug addict, says he owes his current success to Chosen 300.
“It’s an honor to be here laying tile,” Alston said.
Jenkins says a matching donation offer from the Upper Dublin Lutheran Church will help provide the final push to make the dream a reality.
“If we raise $50,000 between now and December 31st, they’re going to match it dollar for dollar,” says Jenkins.
So far they’ve raised $30,000 and need $20,000 more to reach the goal of paying off all construction costs for the West Philadelphia facility as well as the mortgage on the building.
To help, go to http://www.chosen300.org/capitalcampaign.html.
Jenkins says Chosen 300 will open the West Philadelphia dining service the day after Thanksgiving, for food only, and then ramp up its other programs by spring of next year.