Philadelphia is among the poorest of the 10 largest U.S. cities. Life Turning Point is working to help.
With 23.3% of residents living below the poverty line, Philadelphia is among the poorest of the 10 largest U.S. cities. Life Turning Point of Philadelphia, located in Germantown, is working to help families who are trying to escape that poverty.
Ten families who had formerly been unhoused, a total of 28 people, are currently living in the 10-bedroom historic mansion formerly known as Wayne Hall on Wayne Avenue, now called Adcock Manor. According to house rules, they can stay for up to 18 months while they work toward attaining financial stability.
This came about through a remarkable act of philanthropy. In September 2021, Carson Dee Adcock, a retired pool company owner who had been a board member at Wayne Hall, bought the property for $650,000 and turned it over to Life Turning Point Philadelphia for just $1 a month.
"After prayer and discussion with family members, I decided to purchase the property and rent it to Life Turning Point Philadelphia for a dollar per month,” Adcock said. "Hopefully, Adcock Manor will stand as a reminder of the importance of having a generous spirit and taking care of others less fortunate as you for generations to come."
Executive Director and founder Rita Whitaker, whose staff recently honored Adcock, grew up in Germantown and attended Cecilian Academy. She went to the Christian Research and Development School in West Philadelphia to study Christian counseling, and later attended Palmer Theological Seminary in Wayne and Abundant Harvest Bible Institute in New Jersey.
Whitaker worked for almost 10 years for the Philadelphia Parking Authority as an assistant purchasing agent before taking up her new career.
"I felt God was calling me to work with women and children," she said. "In fact, when I contacted Wayne Hall, I told them they did not have to pay me. I told them I would be a missionary. The lady I talked to said, 'Are you kidding me?'
"I was making good money with the city and had a pension, but I gave it all up," Whitaker continued. "I sold all my stuff and moved into Wayne Hall in 1998."
And so far, she appears to be having great success with the new venture. Of the 37 people who have graduated from the program so far, only four have returned to being homeless. It's a success rate that's comparable to what the city’s Office of Homeless Services sees for people who received similar assistance with supportive housing, rental assistance and other services.
Living in the mansion is by no means a free ride. Residents must be downstairs with their children by 7:30 a.m. for breakfast; they must be well-groomed and leave their rooms in orderly condition.
"They must take parenting classes," said Whitaker. "They must do chores every day, and come to an 8 o'clock class and a 10 o'clock class. They learn about finances, life skills and addiction. They get career coaching workshops, thanks to the Chestnut Hill Rotary, chair massages and manicures."
They also have to study the Bible and be open to Biblical teaching.
"We help them to know Jesus Christ," Whitaker said. "And even though we are Bible-centered, one Muslim mom talked about all the love she found here."
Whitaker admits that she and her six staff members are "old school."
"Narrow is the way, and few are those who find it," she said. "We teach discipline, which many of the women never had before, table manners and etiquette lessons. No cell phones are allowed at dinners."
They must also get a job, save 50% of what they earn and get off government assistance, she said. Those who can't "take the discipline" drop out.
"But I have so much respect for the women who do finish," she said.
For many years, the building, then called Wayne Hall, where Whitaker previously worked for two decades, was the headquarters for the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, a refuge for women who had been homeless and their children. However, after 20 years of service, the home was closed in August of 2019, all of the families were displaced, and the building was vacant for two years.
And then Adcock bought it. He is also renovating an additional carriage house next to the main house and will soon house two more families referred to Turning Point by local daycare centers and social service offices.
Adcock said he learned the importance of "cheerful generosity" from his parents, and hopes that he, in turn, has taught the same to his children.
"My father told me when I was young that you cannot outgive God," he said. "Although we will never have a financial return on the property, I believe it is probably the best investment I’ve ever made."
For more information, visit ltpphilly.org. Len Lear can be reached at email@example.com