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. From this belief came the name: Advocates for Homeless & Those In Need. Below is the history of AHTN as recalled by Penny.
It 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 the encampment. 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 encampment. That night was a “wake up” call that God was calling Penny to do something to help those in need in her community.
Pastor Don Richards, a “retired” pastor and member of Emilie UMC had been visiting the encampments and building 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 started monthly meetings at Emilie UMC. She invited other area churches and organizations to attend. In September 2009, 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 during the Winter of 2009/2010. There are now Code Blue shelters in Lower, Central 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 calls received from Community members requiring temporary assistance with shelter, food, clothing and transportation. The 'Homeless Outreach Team' was created to work directly with the homeless in the camps. The 'Wheels to Meals' mission was developed to transport homeless and others in need to houses of worship for shared meals. It began in 2010 and has grown to 39 places of worship participating. 'Rejuvenation Station' followed shortly after and provides those in need with haircuts, clean clothes and showers.
Currently, AHTN has five missions – Code Blue, Those in Need, Rejuvenation Station, Homeless Outreach Team and Wheels to Meals. The tenth season of Code Blue runs December 1, 2018 – March 31, 2019.