Code Blue was the original mission under AHTN when first organized. Even then, founder Penny Martin knew there was much that could be done to help those in need and from this belief came the name: Advocates for Homeless & Those in Need. Following is the history of AHTN as recalled by Penny.
It all began with an invitation to attend a Valentine’s Day dinner at Emilie United Methodist Church in Febuary 2009. Several members of Emilie's congregation knew of the homeless encampment along the canal in Levittown and had befriended the residents. An invitation was delivered to the homeless. The night of the dinner arrived and many people attended, but only 4 or 5 homeless did, the ones who had received a ride!
With a lot of food left over it was suggested that the dinner be delivered to the homeless. Several car trunks were packed with food and caravanned down to the encampment located behind the 7-11 at Edgley Road and Route 13. With the local police offering support, the dinners were unloaded and slowly our homeless friends came up from the canal. Ironically, this is now a pickup spot for several AHTN missions. That night was a wake up call to AHTN Program Director, Penny Martin, that God was calling her to do something to help those in need in her community.
Pastor Don Richards, a “retired” pastor and member of Emilie UMC had been going to the encampments, building trust and relationships with the chronic homeless for some time. He shared his fellowship experiences and the needs of our homeless brothers and sisters with several members of Emilie UMC. Penny Martin started monthly meetings at Emilie UMC and invited other area churches and organizations to attend. At one of the meetings, Reach Out Foundation (ROF) of Morrisville stated that Bucks County was the only county in the tri-state area that did not have a Code Blue program. Code Blue is a county-wide effort to provide shelter for unsheltered individuals during periods of inclement weather that can present the threat of serious harm and/or death to unsheltered individuals. ROF had tried to get the county to establish a Code Blue Program in the winter of 2008 and had contacted many churches but did not have any success.
God’s intervention connected Penny with skilled and gifted people with huge hearts who began donating their time to organize the first Bucks County Code Blue Emergency Shelter. The committee listened to the needs of the homeless and moved forward. Commissioner Diane Marseglia was contacted and she presented the idea to the county commissioners. The county then asked AHTN to have a plan in place by Thanksgiving 2009 and to plan on opening the Code Blue shelter on December 15th of that year. There were only a few months to pull it all together. Again, with God's help and many volunteers taking lead positions, the first Code Blue shelter in Bucks County opened the winter of 2009/2010.
Currently, AHTN has five missions - Code Blue, Those in Need, Rejuvenation Station, Homeless Outreach Team and Helping Hands. The fifth season of Code Blue runs December 1, 2013 - March 31, 2014.