Addressing the Issues, One Address at a Time

September 9, 2016
Our dedicated volunteers make the BSM mail service possible!

Around eight years ago, the post office delivered a package to BSM, but the name on the label did not belong to any of our staff. It belonged to one of our guests who attended the Hospitality Collaborative regularly. This guest had taken the initiative to have his package sent to BSM, knowing that it was the safest way for him to ensure that he would get his mail. Of course, upon his next visit, he received his package from us and went down in the unofficial Broad Street Ministry Record Books as the first guest to utilize the mail service.

This was a simple act of resourcefulness for one person who just needed a place to have his package delivered, but out of this simple act was born one of the most important services that we offer. We realized just how crucial a mailing address can be for our guests, so the obvious course of action was to share ours.

BSM staff celebrating the seven thousandth participant of the mail service

It did not take long for the mail service to take off! Within the first 2 years, our address was serving hundreds. Today, approximately 3,000 people use 315 South Broad Street as their mailing address and to date,we  have served over 7,000 individuals. We never expected the demand to grow to this point. What used to be an easy 10 minutes of sorting through the daily mail delivery has now grown into a full-scale operation which requires the help of many volunteers to sort through the hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of mail delivered every day. BSM fun fact: more people receive their mail at BSM’s address than in 537 individual towns in PA, including Morton, Newhope, Yardley, Langhorn, and West Conshohocken.

How do you explain the popularity of our mail service? In this modern age, when so many different forms of communication exist, why is it so important to have a physical mailing address?

The truth is, having a mailing address is very important for people experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity because it opens the door to many possibilities. For example, if you’ve lost your ID, it’s very difficult to re-establish that ID without a mailing address (and in many places, you can’t get a mailing address without ID). An address allows individuals to obtain government benefits such as welfare and social security, gain access to a Safelink Obama Phone, apply for jobs, keep in touch with loved ones, register to vote, or receive their important paperwork at a secure location if they do not feel safe where they are staying. For someone who has fallen on hard times, establishing a mailing address can be just the lifeline that they were looking for. It serves as the crucial step that must be taken in order to take advantage of many other services that they may need, that our concierges (case managers) can then connect them to.

If you’d like to volunteer at our mail table, you can do so here or email volunteer@broadstreetministry.org.

If you have any questions or would like more information about the mail service at BSM, contact our Mail Service Coordinator, Ella Rose at ella@broadstreetministry.org