Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Feeding the homeless, as he loses his own home.

A frigid snowstorm was looming, but instead of preparing for the freezing weather, Cranford Coulter was busy chopping carrots, peppers, and fennel inside his home to make soup for the homeless.

For the last 25 years, Coulter has been cooking up a massive batch of soup and taking it in Igloo coolers to feed the homeless. Snow, rain, or heat waves haven't stopped Coulter from giving hot, home-cooked meals to the hungry each week. It is his ministry and nothing will deter him from helping others.

The Montgomery County, Pa. man who has been feeding Philadelphia's homeless for 25 years but is facing eviction might get to keep his home after all, thanks to donors worldwide.

An online fund-raising drive has generated more than $30,000 in donations and offers of matching gifts for Cranford Coulter, who founded and runs the King's Jubilee ministry out of his Souderton, Pa. home. County officials have listed the home for sheriff's sale in late February.

Coulter reached his goal by crowfunding.

The drive’s monetary goal was $15,000 so that Coulter can make $12,000 in overdue mortgage payments and keep his charity works going. After an article in the local paper told of his foreclosure woes and his weekly trips to Center City to feed the homeless, readers across the country e-mailed and called, saying they wanted to help.

"People I don't know at all gave over $1,000, and that just blew my mind," Coulter said "We're not used to good things happening of late."

Donations came from as far away as the Netherlands and Australia, he said. A local family offered $50 in change it had saved for church donations. Some people said they had little to give but wanted to contribute something, if only their voice.

Feeding the homeless continues thanks to donors.

"I feel like this guy needs a break and I'm willing to help if I can," Frank Hartman said. A singer who performs tributes to Frank Sinatra at charity events, he offered to perform free to raise money for Coulter.

Coulter's ministry is celebrating its 25th year next month. Though severely ill in 2012, Coulter joined other homeless advocates in the lawsuit that undid the Mayor's ban on feeding the homeless outside. Coulter still delivers his homemade soup to the hungry, who line up to await his arrival.

How his decline started.

His financial troubles started in 2010 when he became ill due to an infection and eventually lost his online business. In 2012, his wife, Bethann, lost her job as a bank teller. Her unemployment benefits have not been enough to cover health insurance premiums plus the couple's monthly mortgage payment of $1,500 on a house they bought for less than $200,000.

His wife is taking classes in medical-office administration while she seeks part-time work. But after three missed payments, the bank started the foreclosure process, Coulter said. That's when friends suggested the online crowdfunding drive. It began the day after Christmas.

Coulter said the couple owes the bank $12,000 plus penalties. He vowed to keep donors updated on how he spends the money. "I'm transparent with everything," he said.


On Friday, the Coulters' home was still listed on the sheriff's sale roster.

Coulter hopes that the bank will work with him to save his house and, in turn, his ministry of feeding the poor.

"I just know that this is what makes me happy," Coulter said, holding back tears. "I'm not anything special."

You minister to the homeless, Mr. Coulter.
That’s very special in our eyes.

Nancy Burban 2014

Funeral fund

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