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…to support a general donation

In 1964 our Guesthouse at the corner of Irving Place and East 15th Street opened to serve seafarers, women-in-crisis and immigrants. If you’ve stayed at our guesthouse, you probably remember our elevator service — calm, deliberate and only a little faster than using the stairwell. We like to think of them as very Lutheran elevators.

“General support” is often understood to mean “where my gift is most needed.” Our engineers have told us that after 50 years of service, these two elevators have reached the end of their useful lives and can no longer be repaired and upgraded. The replacement of the elevators is truly where your gift is most needed!

Over the years, Seafarers International House has capped its administrative, non-mission expenses under 17%, but working elevators in a 13-story building are more than a luxury.

This Guesthouse is a home away from home for many seafarers in between crew contracts. The Guesthouse is also a haven for refugees, asylum seekers and other vulnerable immigrants.

Moreover, this Guesthouse funds the significant part of our mission programs and services which take place outside the Guesthouse. Our port mission to seafarers in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York/New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island is largely funded by Guesthouse accommodations, and our sojourner mission to immigrants includes visits with them inside private prisons and detention centers, and is also largely funded by the Guesthouse.

We’re celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Guesthouse by installing two new elevators at a cost of $360,000, and we’re inviting you to join in this Anniversary Celebration with an elevator gift, any- where from $50 to bring one elevator to the second floor, to $500 to bring one elevator to the top floor. Or even $1,000 to bring both new elevators to the top floor.

Remember, with our track record, we won’t bother you with another elevator appeal for at least fifty years. Thank you.

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…to donate towards our port ministry 

Our port chaplain in the Port of Baltimore, Rev. Gerry Rickel, received word that the bulk carrier M/V Aqua grace was scheduled to arrive in port, having lost one of her seafarers, who perished when swept overboard at sea.

For seafarers, most accidents do not occur “close to home”, and aggravating the sense of isolation felt by the seafarers and their families is the realization that the seafarer may not return home.

Rev. Rickel made a visit to the Aqua Grace his first priority of the morning. Passing through security was easy, with the routine, but unwitting question by the security guard at the terminal gate, “taking anybody out today, chaplain?” Climbing up the gangway, he was directed to the captain’s office and waited until the captain concluded his meeting with the Coast Guard officer.

Rev. Rickel asked about the perished seafarer and offered to perform a shipboard memorial service. The captain said that would be especially welcomed since they had been at sea for so long and had not had a “mass” for months. He asked the port chaplain to return to the ship late afternoon and he would have the crew assembled.

Upon our port chaplain’s return, the captain indicated that the crew wished to have dinner before the memorial service and invited the chaplain to join them. Afterwards, everybody went into the meeting room set up for the service. The crew sang Psalm 23 and another hymn, accompanied by one of the sea- farers playing guitar. Rev. Rickel offered a homily, and assisted by the captain, distributed the sacrament to the entire crew, including the seafarer manning the gangway.

After the service, the crew asked our port chaplain to offer a prayer and a blessing both at the place on the deck where the man had fallen overboard and in his cabin.

While isolation is a constant factor in the lives of seafarers, aboard ship, they are a community and deeply mourn the loss of one of their own. Your prayers and support sustain our port mission to them. Thank you.

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…to donate towards our immigrant ministry

An elderly Chinese couple (not pictured, but similar) arrived at our guesthouse several weeks ago, escorted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under mysterious circumstances.

They had arrived with one-way tickets and no visas. Ordinarily, they would have been taken from the airport directly to an immigrant detention center. They spoke no English; we spoke no Mandarin; but a translator was found.

Initially, we learned that the couple’s daughter would purchase return tickets for them, but reserving the flight was complicated by the fact that DOH had their passports, and wouldn’t release them to us.

Then, we learned that the daughter refused to pay for the tickets, blaming the airline for allowing them to board in the first place.

In fact, it wasn’t even clear whether the couple wanted to stay in the United States or to return to China. What became clear, however, was that the couple’s children did not intend either to facilitate their return to China nor to provide any living allowance for themintheU.S. Afternearlyonemonth of uncertainty and difficult, translated conversations, the elderly couple left for Chinatown on the lower East Side of New York City. Later they returned, appearing disoriented, and we arranged for their hospitalization.

It is bewildering that they were allowed to leave China without a visa, and it’s even more bewildering that the Department of Homeland Security has exhibited little interest in their continued presence. Essentially, they were abandoned.

For our part, however, it’s enough that they seemed to need assistance, and without question, it was provided: nearly a month of free lodging, nearly a month of continual social work intervention and several hundred dollars of translation charges.

Sometimes hospitality doesn’t neatly fit into established mission critieria. It just comes from the heart. We couldn’t turn this elderly couple away. Your prayers and support make possible our mission to immigrants. Thank you.