Code Blue was the original mission for which AHTN was first organized. Even then, founder Penny Martin knew there was much more that could be done to help those in need and from this belief came the name: Advocates for Homeless & Those in Need. Following is the history of AHTN as recalled by Penny.
It all began with an invitation to attend a Valentine’s Day dinner at Emilie United Methodist Church in February 2009. Several members of Emilie’s congregation knew of the homeless encampment along the canal in Levittown and had befriended the residents. An invitation was delivered to homeless individuals. The night of the dinner arrived and many people attended, but only a few were homeless.
With a lot of food left over the dinner was packed up and delivered to the homeless encampments. That night was a “wake up” call to AHTN Founder, Penny Martin, that God was calling her to do something to help those in need in her community.
Pastor Don Richards, a “retired” pastor and member of Emilie UMC had been going to the encampments, building trust and relationships with the chronic homeless for some time. He shared his fellowship experiences and the needs of our homeless brothers and sisters with several members of Emilie UMC. Penny Martin started monthly meetings at Emilie UMC and invited other area churches and organizations to attend. In September, the group decided to set up a Code Blue Shelter Program in Bucks County.
God’s intervention connected Penny with skilled and gifted people with huge hearts who began donating their time to organize the first Bucks County Code Blue Emergency Shelter. Commissioner Diane Marseglia was contacted, she presented the idea to the county commissioners, and it was approved. AHTN was asked to have the shelter facilities selected by Thanksgiving 2009 and to plan on opening the Code Blue shelter on December 15th of that year. There were only a few months to pull it all together. Again, with God’s help and many volunteers taking lead positions, the first Code Blue shelter in Bucks County opened the winter of 2009/2010. There are now Code Blue shelters in Lower, Middle and Upper Bucks County.
It became apparent that there were many areas of need in Bucks County. The “Those in Need” mission was created from the phone calls received from those requiring temporary assistance with shelter, food, clothing and transportation. The Homeless Out Reach Team was created to work directly with the homeless in the camps.
The “Wheels to Meals” mission of transporting homeless and others in need to “houses of worship” for shared meals began in 2010 and has grown to 28 places of worship participating. Rejuvenation Station lunch and showers followed shortly after.
Currently, AHTN has five missions – Code Blue, Those in Need, Rejuvenation Station, Homeless Outreach Team and Wheels to Meals. The seventh season of Code Blue runs December 1, 2015 – March 31, 2016.