Pioneering a New Hosting Model

Unitarian Universalist Church of Mt Airy Added a Shower and Plans to Pilot a Less Intensive Congregation Hosting Model


The Unitarian Universalist Church in Mt. Airy has been a trailblazer in housing homeless families. “Our church has been involved with this program for a long time on and off,” explains Darlene Styer, who, with Steve Workman, is a coordinator of the PIHN project. “It is a matter of social importance. ­­­­­­ The program was in existence when I joined in 1994,” he says.

It is a no-brainer. Now more than ever, people are falling on hard times through no fault of their own.  They need help.

As Philadelphia began to close down because of Covid, and the church was no longer having in-person services, the banging and breaking down of walls began. Today, thanks to a grant from two individuals, an ADA-compliant apartment was created. A space that was used for storage and administration has been transformed into an area fit for a family.

“The congregation made a series of decisions about the space and how we wanted to support families,” Steve explains. “It turned out to be an enormous project. We enlarged the space and put in a shower. Previously, families had to go to the PIHN office on Germantown Avenue before they started their day, to shower. We also have upstairs classrooms that we will put beds in and a kitchen, which will alleviate things for a family.” In past iterations families used the kitchen in the Fellowship Hall.

During Covid times, we’ve missed having the PIHN families stay with us. While we can’t provide the usual in-person hosting, we can still open our doors to a more self-sufficient family in need with PIHN staff supervision. We’re honored to be the first congregation to try out this new, less intense hosting model in our congregational building, especially while we’re not using it as much as we normally do.

A goal of the Interfaith Hospitality Network is to end family homelessness in our community. Families selected into our program receive temporary emergency housing and hospitality in one of our participating church, synagogue, or mosque congregations. Guests are sent to safe, child friendly living quarters with private rooms. Because congregations have been unable to host during Covid timse, PIHN has been sending families to far more expensive hotels and AirBnbs.



Make a Difference to Help Northeast Families in Crisis

Make a Difference Supporting PIHN Northeast Families!

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Since the COVID-19 outbreak, PIHN and many other Northeast Philadelphia social service organizations have received hundreds of requests for help from hard working households experiencing layoffs, working fewer hours, making less income, and requiring more food and material support. Neighbors worry as they watch their bills grow to a point where they can’t imagine catching up – even after returning to work.

The Northeast Philadelphia COVID-19 Resilience Fund provides a way for individuals and businessesto make a difference by addressing our neighbors’ emergency needs directly, flexibly, and creatively. Funds can be used for covering back rent,utilities, temporary daycare for returning workers, emergency home repairs, medication for someone who has lost insurance, etc.

All funding requests will be evaluated by and administered through Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network (PIHN).

Click Here to Donate or Learn More
About PIHN’s Northeast Philadelphia COVID Relief Fund


Sharing Sarah’s Story

Help Us Keep Families Home For Good…

Sharing Sarah’s Story

Happy young mother having fun with her child

Sarah is a 74 -year-old retired teacher with two adopted sons, ages 12 and 14. She had raised her boys in foster care. It recently came to our attention through the Red Cross that their home of 50 years had been destroyed in an electrical fire. Sarah had no property insurance, and everything was destroyed.  Neighbors had raised money to house the family in a hotel for several weeks, but had run out funds, especially since there were no cooking options and meals had to be purchased. With deep community ties, Sarah wanted to find rehousing close to her neighbors to maintain

PIHN’s team placed the family in an Air BnB on Temple University’s campus, several blocks from her old house. After one week in the Air BnB, PIHN staff located and furnished a short-term rental for the family also close to their old neighbors.  Sarah and her boys will remain in the rental housing for the next several months while working to repair the damages to her home. PIHN staff are exploring alternative housing for her, in case completing repairing the old house is not economically feasible – requiring alternate longer term permanent housing.  In the meantime, the family is staying in the current short-term housing, normally occupied by Temple students, who have not been there during the past semester due to the pandemic.

Click Here to Support
PIHN’s Family Promise Giving Day


File Your Taxes Virtually with PIHN for Free!

File your taxes virtually with PIHN!

Claim your FREE Tax Refund

CWF PhotoPIHN is returning this year as a Campaign for Working Families, free Tax Filing Site. As a free service to our community, we are filing Federal and State Income Tax Returns for households with an income less than $55,000 beginning on February 1st!

Please note that all appointments MUST be scheduled through using the In-Person Drop-off function before visiting PIHN’s office with your documents. After your appointment is set, drop your documents off at our office, and a tax specialist will be reaching out to you soon after. You can find the list of paperwork you need to bring with you on the document attached to this email.


Click Here to Schedule Your Free Virtual Tax Appointment!


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PIHN’s Massive Holiday Gifting Effort!

Tis’ the season for giving…

Huge Thanks to all of PIHN’s Secret Santas


Santa and his helpers have been hard at work this season making drop-offs around Philadelphia for PIHN’s Secret Santa program. Holiday time is fun, but often stresses hard working parents from paying rent and utilities. This year, with so many out of work or underemployed, making Christmas for the little ones feels next to impossible.

The generosity shown through participating organizations and individuals, allowed us to provide Christmas matches for over 372 PIHN Children and their Families! Thank you for helping us share the spirit of the holiday with our neighbors who are most at-risk.

Shhh…The following organizations and groups were Secret Santas:

  • Angels of Christmas
  • Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting
  • City Councilman Bobby Henon’s Office
  • Delaware Valley Children’s Charities
  • Frineds Sleect School students
  • FCMH
  • First Methodist Church of Germantown
  • KWG employees
  • Mt. Airy Presbyterian Church
  • Now You Foundation
  • St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
  • Soroptimist International of Five Point Magneta
  • Unitarian Society of Germantown
  • Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration
  • William Penn Charter School


The following  list of wonderful individuals who participated as Secret Santas and adopted a family:

  • Alyson Goodner
  • Annabel Grote & Harald
  • Bonnie Zetick
  • Bria Biddle
  • Cara Herold
  • Carla White
  • Carol Fleishman
  • Casey Good
  • Charlotte Biddle
  • Chrissy Madalone
  • Clara Thompson
  • Courtney and Michele
  • Cynthia Lalone
  • Deb Schreffle
  • Deneen Stewart
  • Diana Thomas
  • Eileen Fitzpatrick
  • Eve Putkovich
  • Evelyn Washington
  • Gina Kutchner
  • Hideko Secrest
  • Jackie Anderson Schocky
  • Jonathan and Victoria Greenberg
  • Juliana Martell
  • Karen Rothschild
  • Kathleen Dillon
  • Kathy Sullivan

Naturally, we have a huge thank you to share with Keyonnee Thalia, PIHN’s Director of Family Services, who coordinated this massive effort. Thanks for helping us bring the holidays to our neighbors at-risk!


Thanks for a Spectacular Virtual Empty Bowl Event!

An Evening We’ll Never Forget!

PIHN and Arcadia University Have Successfully Hosted a Virtual Empty Bowl Dinner!


Take a deep breath, and give a round of applause for the most AMAZING network we could ask for!  Sunday, November 22nd was nothing short of spectacular as Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network (PIHN) and Arcadia University joined to celebrate our annual traditions of the Empty Bowl Dinner virtually through Zoom. With social distancing keeping us apart, the warmth of our community has and will continue to keep us together. Thanks to the support of Arcadia University volunteers, staff, and our local community – we have raised $30,000 towards our homelessness prevention fund!

Special thanks to Mike McGrath of WLVT/PBS39′s “You Bet Your Garden” for his memorable wit and energy to brighten up the evening. Congratulations to Kylia Alston for receiving the beautiful car (a 2015 Toyota Carola) donated by Geico and refurbished by Service King as part of the National Auto Body Council’s Recycled Rides program!

Use this link to watch a short video about Kylia, as she shares how much having a car truly makes a difference!

Recycled Rides Collage

Our generous Corporate Sponsors have really made a difference this year, by funding both the execution of our event as well as the attendance of PIHN’s Program Alumni:

  • Giant Food Stores
  • Drumcliff Foundation
  • Elfant Wissahickon Realtors
  • FX Cassidy and Associates
  • Fox & Roach Charities
  • Geico
  • Lindy Communities
  • National Auto Body Council (Recycled Rides)
  • Service King
  • Sovereign

The 2020 Annual Empty Bowl Dinner Cookbook is being printed at this time and will be available both digitally and in print before December 25th. Thanks to all who contributed favorite soup, bread, and dessert recipes and memories from our community about past Empty Bowl experiences. If you’re interested, you can also purchase an e-book online for $3, or a print version for $15 just in time for the holidays!

This dinner happened thanks to the efforts of these wonderful people: Students from Arcadia University’s Center for Civic and Community Engagement, including Hannah McGinnis, Kiara Jacoby, Julisa Linton, Tyanna Taylor and their fearless leader, Cindy Rubino. Thanks as well to PIHN volunteers and staff, Valerie Erwin, Della lazarus, Ezra Masch, TJ Narty, Christian Gordon-Scott and Rachel Falkove.


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Thanks for ALL you do


PIHN’s Empty Bowl Cookbook Challenge!

Mark Your Calendars!

PIHN’s 2020 Empty Bowl Dinner

Will Be Held Virtually


November is coming and our gastronomic clocks are telling us that it’s time for our two favorite Empty Bowl Dinners held the week before Thanksgiving at the United Lutheran Seminary, and the beautiful Castle at Arcadia University. But this year – with the introduction of social distancing – both events are joining forces and going virtual together. The good news is, we can still celebrate the Empty Bowl Dinner (courtesy of Zoom) on November 22nd, 2020 at 7PM with Empty Bowl virtual activities to join in on.

So save the date, dust off your bowl collection, plan to put up a pot of soup, or support your local restaurant that day by ordering take-out. Celebrate with special dinner host, Mike McGrath of public radio’s syndicated show, “You Bet Your Garden”, the Arcadia community, and the volunteers and families from Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network (PIHN). Join us as Geico and Service King donate 2 vehicles to transform the lives of two families, and enjoy the warmth of a caring community at a time when we all need connection and something to smile about.

In support of this year’s virtual Empty Bowl event, we will be publishing an Empty Bowl Dinner recipe book. We are asking for your favorite soup, bread, and dessert recipes in order to celebrate our Empty Bowl tradition of sharing and generosity.

The recipes will be compiled into a cookbook commemorating the unusual virtual dinner and sold as a fundraiser to Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality network to support our homelessness prevention work. A portion of the profits will also go to Rise Against Hunger to support the international fight against world hunger.


Send your recipes to using this 2020 Recipe Submission Form by November 9th, 2020. We ask for all recipes to be typed either in the body of your email, or in a separate document. Please be sure to include:

  • An estimate of how many servings are in the recipe
  • A list of ingredients and measurements
  • Directions to make your recipe
  • (optional) Send in a photo of the recipe, of you with your bowl from on of our previous dinners, or of a memorable time when you made the recipe!

While we are primarily asking for soups, we also would love to include stews, breads, and desserts to stay true to the menu of this event. The recipe must also be yours to share, so please do not submit anything that might infringe upon copyright law. Also, be sure to include “Empty Bowl 2020 Recipe” in the subject line of your submission.

Finally, we are requesting that participants submit either a short paragraph about why you selected the recipe, or a video (30secs-1min) discussing one or more of the following topics that we can use in the cookbook

  • An Empty Bowl Dinner experience
  • A special memory or story about a recipe
  • A reason why you selected this recipe
  • Your experience with PIHN
  • The importance of Community Service and volunteering

All participants who submit a recipe will be entered in a raffle for a handmade ceramic bowl, courtesy of a professional artist local to the area. You will find photos of these raffles on our Instagram @ArcadiaCCEC in the next few weeks. Please submit your recipes to no later than Monday, November 9th.

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The cookbook, available virtually and printed, will be completed in time for the holiday season – making this a perfect holiday gift for friends and family. We look forward to reading your recipes and thank you in advance for your support of Empty Bowl.

Send in your recipes ASAP, and look out for more details about the dinner!

Thanks for ALL you do!

Click to Download and Complete the
2020 Recipe Submission Form


PIHN’s 2020 Back to School Event

A Year of New Beginnings!

PIHN’s 2020 Back to School Night


Returning to school in 2020 presents a new set of challenges for students of all ages. PIHN children, teens, and college kids are prepped for the many new adjustments caused by COVID-19, and getting off to an awesome start for the new school year after PIHN’s Back to School gathering held in our Northwest office the last week of August.

Students received travel-sized sanitation kits and assorted face masks, in addition to the uniform gift cards and book bags stuffed with school supplies for the school year ahead. Thank you so much to Chestnut Hill Presbyterian Church, and Flourtown Presbyterian Church for providing the huge assortment of unique book bags for our PIHN scholars.

Back to School Collage
We’d also like to add a special shout-out to Cradles to Crayons Philadelphia for the generous school donations they’ve made to our program and thousands of other children around the city. With the support of our awesome community, PIHN has received over 250 book bags filled with supplies for our children this year!

“Smoothies for Shelter” at Planet Smoothie in Horsham!

Horsham’s Planet Smoothie Presents:

“Smoothies for Shelter!”


Planet Smoothie Horsham’s Sherrell Oliver-Riley, introduced a new initiative that offers smoothies to prevent homelessness by assisting students facing housing insecurity in the Philadelphia School District. For $35 per person, smoothie lovers can enjoy their choice of one smoothie (any size!!) for each week through the end of September. Half of the proceeds from every participant will then be donated to PIHN’s Homelessness Prevention Program!

I’m excited to provide our customers with smoothies during the hottest time of the year, while assisting local families in need of rental assisance,” said Oliver-Riley. “Not only will our customers be saving a few bucks, but they’ll be helping us raise much needed funds to help prevent homelessness in the region.”

Planet Smoothie is located at 575 Horsham Rd. (Suite B-19) in the Horsham Corner Shopping Center. If you are interested in participating, simply request a Summer Pass when you order your next frozen treat, or via phone: (215) 394-5217.

The Planet Smoothie franchise began in 1995 in Atlanta, Georgia and has more than 130 locations across the country. Learn more about them by visiting