Tag Archives: #hometownheroes

Hometown Heroes – Katie Rhodes – SNY Charities – 11/21/23

Family Life’s “Hometown Heroes

At Thanksgiving and Christmastime, communities are especially generous to reach out to help individuals and families who struggle financially.

This week’s “Hometown Heroes” news feature gives you an inside look at one such ministry, from Katie Rhodes of Catholic Charities in New York’s Southern Tier region. Rhodes updates us on the repurposing of a now-closed church building to be a resource center for homeless and needy neighbors. There also are stories of people who have never needed charitable help until now. The ministry compassionately reassures such people who might have internal qualms about reaching out for help.

Mark Webster also asks Rhodes for an overview of how today’s widespread economic troubles, a projection on where trends may take us next, and how Christ’s followers always have stepped up to address real human needs in their own communities.

Katie Rhodes is communications coordinator for Catholic Charities of Chemung and Schuyler Counties.

Click these links for more details about the ways Catholic Charities help their neighbors, and how you can too.

“Hometown Heroes” airs during the Family Life Noon Report most Tuesdays (on the radio and online) and is available 24/7 on our News Podcasts page.

Hometown Heroes – Living on the streets, with Eric Johns – 11/14/23 (#2)

Family Life’s “Hometown Heroes

This week’s Hometown Heroes continues our conversation with Buffalo Pastor Eric Johns.

This will be his 25th and final year of living on the streets for a full week, getting the experience of homelessness first-hand. As he prepares to retire, his sons will follow in his footsteps. There are other ministry colleagues, young people influenced by the Buffalo Dream Center’s inner city ministries, and other church members who are now motivated by his example.

Hear more about how the Lord has used and expanded such outward-focused work here in Part 2 of our “Hometown Heroes” feature.

Part 1 of this conversation is also easy to find here on our News Podcasts page.

“Hometown Heroes” happens during the Family Life Noon report most Tuesdays, online and on the air. Your host is Family Life news anchor Mark Webster.


Hometown Heroes – Buffalo Dream Center starts the Curbside Church – 11/07/23

Family Life’s “Hometown Heroes

A quarter-century ago, Pastor Eric Johns experienced what he is convinced was a God Moment.

That year, and in each of the 25 since, the pastor of the Buffalo Dream Center has lived as a homeless person for a week, taking a backpack and a sleeping bag with him. In part he wanted the first-hand experience of “living outside”. In part he sensed a calling to connect with people who also were living on the streets.

In this Family Life Interview, Pastor Johns tells the genesis of the mission and evangelistic outreach which became the “Curbside Church“, the church’s efforts to provide gifts for children at Christmastime, and the unique man he met who was the only person who was opposed to Eric Johns spending a homeless week.

Find out more about their “Boxes of Love” here. Pastor Johns also produces a podcast entitled “Building Your Life”.

“Hometown Heroes” happens during the Family Life Noon report most Tuesdays, online and on the air.

Hometown Heroes – Liz Smith – 5:9s outreach to first responders – 10/17/23

“Hometown Heroes” on Family Life

“We sometimes feel like we kind of have to put Jesus in a box, go to work, and we can take Him back out when we come home. We gotta break that.”  — Liz Smith

Chatauqua County (NY) Paramedic Liz Smith felt a divine calling to provide encouragement and support for first responders in her local area. She says law enforcement, firefighters and ambulance crew sometime need mental health services for PTSD and simply dealing with the stresses and tragedies they face in the line of duty to others. She also says spiritual nurture is an important component to help these front-line heroes.

She and a police officer had parallel visions for such a supportive group, and used the numbers in Matthew 5:9 (“Blessed are the peacemakers…”) to form their name.

Hear about this Christian outreach, about the needs of those on the front lines in their communities, and how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is shaping those who answer the call when there is an emergency.

Human Trafficking – A Family Life special feature – 10/03/23

You might think that slavery in America ended a century and a half ago. Advocates for runaways, kidnapped individuals and desperate people say that slavery is alive and active even now, in the form of human trafficking.

Family Life interviewed two New Yorkers involved with A21 Ministries to address human trafficking — prevention, rescuing, and follow-up. Mary Gillis is coordinating awareness in the Corning area. She says there are more people trapped in the slavery of trafficking around the world now than in the slavery of any other era.

Lawrence Morey has an adult daughter who is doing ten months of training in Nepal with A21 to fight for the girls and boys and women and men caught up in the violence and abuse.He speaks passionately about the heart-wrenching realities of human trafficking.

A21 this month sponsors multiple dozens of “Walks for Freedom” throughout the USA to raise awareness — not only about the massive problem, but also promoting the effective solutions. Other parallel walks also happen this month in many other nations.

Saturday, October 14, will see five Walks for Freedom in New York (including Corning and Binghamton), plus three in Pennsylvania (including Lewisburg). There is also a virtual version of the Walk For Freedom in which you can participate from anywhere.

Hometown Heroes – more on Ukrainian mission with Jeff Seigworth – 09/26/23

Family Life’s “Hometown Heroes

This is part 2 of our conversation with Jeff Seigworth about his recent — and upcoming — mission work in western Ukraine.

Today’s segment focuses on how his experiences with people whose nation is at war influenced his own faith — and what he saw about faith and evangelization for the people in the cities and villages he visited.

Seigworth’s first overseas trip ever was his participation with the mission trip created by A-1-8, a mission organization which takes its name from scripture: Acts 1:8, the Biblical mandate to take Jesus’ Gospel to nearby places and to the whole world. A18 had been active in Ukraine multiple years before the current war.

The first part of Mark Webster’s interview of Jeff Seigworth is available here, among all of our “Hometown Heroes” podcasts.


Hometown Heroes – Jeff Seigworth in Ukraine – 09/19/23

Family Life’s “Hometown Heroes

Multiple mission organizations are active in war zones in Ukraine and southern Russia, bringing Christian healing and Christian hope to those caught in the crossfire.

One of those agencies is A-1-8, named after Acts 1:8, the Biblical mandate to take Jesus’ Gospel far and near, into all the world. A18 had been active in Ukraine multiple years before the current war.

Pennsylvania native Jeff Seigworth recently returned from a mission trip to Ukraine. He was part of a team that was actively interacting with children in Ukrainian towns. They saw the explosive damage to the cities and villages, the costs of war in deaths and physical injuries, but also the emotional toll and chronic anxiety of daily life within a daily war. In this Family Life interview, Seigworth tells about how the mission workers saw how the message of Jesus released children from much of the fear and the mental health strain that non-Christians constantly face.

Hometown Heroes – Chad Kurtz – Truth in Nature (dads) – 09/12/23

Family Life’s “Hometown Heroes

Chad Kurtz of Brookville, Pennsylvania, saw the challenges boys face in childhood and their teen years, when a father or father figure is not prominent in their lives. He directs the local chapter of “Truth in Nature”, a ministry which matches responsible Christian men with young people who need that kind of positive male influence.

Truth in Nature reaches out in response to a Biblical mandate to care for the fatherless. The need is great, with 18.5 million fatherless boys in the United States. Kurtz tells Family Life that real-world statistics show young people have very prominent incidents of imprisonment, homelessness, running away, suicide, and self-esteem issues. Of 27 recent mass shootings, 26 of those were committed by someone who did not have a dad at home.

Not all situations are dire, and single mothers do amazing work, and this ministry provides support to them too. For the boys, male teens and even those of college age, Truth in Nature provides experiences, advice and encouragement how to grow up as a healthy and respectful man. Activities include camping, learning to hunt, how to fold clothes, how to shave, and spiritual teachings.

Truth in Nature started in Georgia in 2009, and recently opened chapters in Pennsylvania and New York. Kurtz and others from Brookville are available to speak at churches and civic organizations.



Hometown Heroes – NY Child Evangelism Fellowship – 08/01/23

Child Evangelism Fellowship brings the Bible — and Biblical hope — to 19 million children around the world.  There are new and expanding New York outreaches of CEF to Genesee, Wyoming, Monroe and Orleans counties.

Mary Hooker and Beth Russell tells us about the Good News Club and the Five Day Clubs which reach out into local communities. They talk about the spiritual battle for the souls of young people. These leaders say that too many of today’s children (even in this nation) do not have faith backgrounds, knowledge of Bible truths, or experience with church people.  Child Evangelism Fellowship needs volunteers to help with shaping the hearts of the next generation.

Hometown Heroes – Matthew 25 Farm, Tully NY – Rick Rarick – 07/25/23

Family Life’s “Hometown Heroes” gets the first-person story of the start of Matthew 25 Farm in Tully, New York, south of Syracuse.  It was winter a decade and a half ago, and there was no farm, no property and no equipment — just a spiritual calling.

Rick Rarick explains how the farm became a reality for the team of a brother, a husband and wife, and a son. The operation grows fresh produce which is distributed to shelters, food pantries and soup kitchens throughout central New York. The team’s motivation is Christ’s calling that “you give them something to eat.” (Matthew 25)

Volunteers help run the farm — and in the process are taught how to farm. More farms means more fresh food which can have a huge impact on communities in need. A diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables helps improve individual health and eventually cuts health care costs in the local community and around the nation.

Listen now as Mark Webster has this faith-filled conversation with Rarick. about how this farm is providing for human needs in the area, inspiration for refugees who have arrived here, and motivates faith through their actions



We find your home, your town, your hero — each Tuesday during the Noon Report on air and online. These News Features also are posted online. Our News Podcasts page also has a link where you can subscribe to be notified each time your favorite feature posts a new episode.