Allentown Rescue Mission and Chick-fil-A Provide a Safety Net for Local Man

(ALLENTOWN, PA) – After a life-altering event, Chief Bagby, a former client of the Allentown Rescue Mission, has found success and happiness. He credits the Allentown Rescue Mission and Chick-fil-A for transforming his life.

Chief came to the Allentown Rescue Mission five years ago after the trailer he was living in was condemned. The sudden loss of his home was especially traumatic. Not knowing what to do, he reached out to his church; they told him about the Allentown Rescue Mission. This would be the first and last time Chief was homeless.

When Chief arrived at the Allentown Rescue Mission, he was lost. He worried about how to start moving forward and how he would fit in at the Mission. He was concerned about the dormitory-style sleeping arrangements and his food allergies; it was all very overwhelming.

But after Chief met the staff and joined the Transformation Program, he realized he could relax and use the time he was given in a safe place to develop a plan and foundation for his future. He was also surprised that the staff wanted to work with him to ensure his meal safety. “I have dairy and egg

allergies, and they made a lot of accommodations for me”, Chief recalled.

“I didn’t make it easy, though. I thought I knew it all”, he said. “But the Allentown Rescue Mission stayed with me and pushed me to challenge myself.” As a result, Chief credits the Allentown Rescue Mission for saving his life.

After leaving the Mission, Chief began working in the fast-food industry and feels blessed to be working as a host at Chick-fil-A in Whitehall. Chief referred to his boss, owner/operator John Velarde, as “a father figure.” “I missed out on the camaraderie and guidance of a biological father and John has stepped in. He’s awesome.”

Velarde strives to make Chick-fil-A in Whitehall a beacon of light and hope for its employees and the community. He believes in inclusivity and diversity and strives to help each employee be the best version of themselves.

When asked about Chief, Velarde responded, “We need more people in the world like Chief. He brightens people’s lives.” Thanks to the services the Allentown Rescue Mission provides and his

relationship with Chief, Velarde nominated the Allentown Rescue Mission for a grant through the Chick- fil-A Foundation and the Philadelphia Union MLS Soccer team. The Allentown Rescue Mission was chosen as a recipient and will be honored at the Union game on Wednesday, May 18, 2022.

The Allentown Rescue Mission, a 501c3, 123 bed non-profit homeless shelter has been providing shelter for homeless men since 1900. In addition to emergency shelter services (365 days a year), the Allentown Rescue Mission offers a residential life skills program, and transitional employment on the Clean Team Workforce that’s available for hire to the community. The Clean Team Workforce pays the men above PA state minimum wage– helping them save a nest egg to transition back into the community. In a typical year, the Allentown Rescue Mission provides shelter services for over 946 men per year, and serves over 42,000 meals a year to men in need.

To refer someone to the Allentown Rescue Mission for services or to learn ways you can help make a
difference please visit

Information provided to TVL by:
Stefanie Appel
Community Relations
Allentown Rescue Mission