Broad Street Ministry (BSM) was originally formed in 2005 as an inclusive, alternative worship
community, expressing the values of welcome and radical hospitality through weekly meals and
camaraderie. Fifteen years later, BSM had grown to welcome more than 400 individuals each
weekday for healthful meals, community, and stabilizing services that reduce the trauma of
scarcity and poverty.
When founder Rev. Bill Golderer ripped up the church pews in the mid-2000s, the sanctuary
was transformed into a stunning dining room. Few could have imagined how this bold act
would transform the historic Wylie-Chambers Presbyterian church building into a space capable
of embracing the feedback, needs and voices of Philadelphians experiencing deep poverty.
This concept, built on radical hospitality and trauma awareness, has since impacted the lives of
thousands of our neighbors, re-imagined the possibilities of a traditional social service agency
and allowed for people’s greatest needs to drive the service of the mission. In 2006, BSM
organized a formal Board of Directors to guide its mission and work and established its status as
a 501c-3 non-profit organization.
The weekly community meal expanded gradually to multiple meals throughout the week aimed
at filling “food gaps” between the schedules of other meal providers. Today, the BSM kitchen
team provides meals with locally-sourced, organic ingredients, accommodating more than 400
individuals daily, regardless of race, age, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation.
Alongside meals, BSM also began offering free personal care and hygiene items and regular
access to a clothing bank which today is a spacious, carefully curated boutique promoting a
personalized shopping experience, free of charge.
When a single individual experiencing homelessness asked if he might be able to receive a
package here at 315 South Broad Street, the BSM Mail Service was born. Today, this service
accommodates more than 4,700 active mail users.
Beginning in the late 2000s, BSM partnered with the City of Philadelphia to host an emergency
overnight respite during winter months. Later, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, this
experience would allow BSM to step up to the occasion and administer prevention sites where
otherwise unhoused individuals could safely quarantine and connect to other services,
including long-term housing.
In 2015, BSM established its own in-house alternative to traditional case management.
Informed by our hospitality model, BSM Concierges today are clinically savvy, trained social
workers supporting thousands of individuals each year towards their goals of improved material
stability and physical and mental health. Focused services grew from there, supporting
individuals in need of ID or returning to the community after incarceration.
More recently, the organization has developed its own De-Escalation team who build trusting
relationships with guests, reducing social friction and mitigating behavioral health crises. The
team regularly conducts trainings for other agencies, partner providers, corporations and the
City of Philadelphia.
Former Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter referred to BSM’s combination of trauma-informed
programming as “the gold standard” in social services in the City. In July 2020 BSM received the
Wawa Foundation Hero Award because of the enormous efforts of BSM staff during the first
months of the pandemic.
Inspired and energized by its history, BSM staff, leadership, and board remain committed to
their mission as a non-traditional social service environment providing barrier-free, relevant
and responsive supportive services to a diverse community of Philadelphians.