Let brotherly love continue…

Hebrews 13:1 (KJV)

Robert, a New Life Program (NLP) participant, stood excitedly in The Crossing Café with a to-go meal, a Christmas stocking and a gift in his hands.

“I do not know what I’m going to get,” he said. “I asked for a navy pea coat, a large-print reference Bible or a pair of tennis shoes, so I’m going to be surprised. I told them I would graciously be accepting of anything I get, because they give us so much here.”

A few seconds later, Robert opened his gift. “I got the Bible!” he said. He was elated.

In preparation for Christmas, Robert, along with more than 100 other NLP participants who live at The Crossing, filled out wish lists.  Thanks to generous donors, the Mission was able to purchase one personalized gift for each NLP participant. The gifts included items like ball caps, coats, gloves, gaiters, tennis shoes, and more, to hand out to each participant at our annual Bless Our Brothers Holiday Party on December 16.

The annual event, presented by Sports Radio 104.3 The Fan, started with a prayer from President/CEO Brad Meuli and the singing of a Christmas hymn while participants stood in line to pick up their meals.

Mark Schlereth, radio sportscaster for 104.3 The Fan and former NFL player, usually attends the event to spend time with the men and hands out gifts along with his co-host Mike Evans. This year, Mark provided an encouraging message virtually.

The Christmas meal from included braised beef short ribs, trottole pasta, French onion mashed potatoes, pan roasted green beans, pumpkin sage brioche bread, and New York-style cheesecake for dessert.

April Cross, office coordinator at The Crossing, handed out the gifts this year. She started the Bless Our Brothers event about 11 years ago out of a desire to provide a special Christmas memory for the participants. She has worked at the Mission for 30 years, and since 2016, she has never missed a year in her role as Mrs. Claus!

In addition to one personalized gift, the men also received donated stockings filled with fleece gloves, a travel kit, a comb, Chapstick, a crossword pad, and snacks.

Through the Season of Hope radio campaign, listeners and supporters of 104.3 The Fan helped fundraise to provide this special Christmas experience for our men. We are so grateful for all who helped make this evening possible so that we can continue to bless our brothers, come rain, shine or pandemic!

The New Life Program is a rehabilitation program that helps men gain the skills and support necessary to become productive, self-sufficient citizens. Robert joined the program about two months ago. “It has helped me to reposition myself and my life,” he said. “I’ve really been blessed from the minute I walked in here. Truly, I have.”

Robert said he is especially grateful this holiday season to be a part of the program. “I’m having a really joyous time being here and being a part of it,” he said. “I basically segregated myself from the life I had before, and this is now my family.”

Written by: Natanya van Heerden, Content Specialist