Meet an 'Ambassador of Hope' helping the homeless in Center City

Matteo Iadonisi Image
Friday, January 6, 2023
Meet an 'Ambassador of Hope' helping the homeless in Center City
EMBED <>More Videos

It's Robert Savage's job to locate, befriend, and provide resources to individuals living on the streets of Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "A lot of people are down on their luck. It could be the household that they came from. They just don't have much. They are without housing," said Robert Savage. "So, I think they're deserving of our help and friendship."

Savage, 66, spent over three decades working for Independence Blue Cross before adopting a different shade of blue. The turquoise jacket he now wears is synonymous with the Center City District's Community Service Representatives (CSR).

"But most of all, my main detail now is searching for homeless and helping them to get in and get shelter and eventually get housing and move on to the next step," he said.

That is Savage's role in the Ambassador of Hope program, founded in 2018 in partnership with Project HOME, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the City of Philadelphia's Department of Behavioral Health.

"Over the last five years with the program. We've helped at least over 800 outreach clients," said Terrance Keene, CSR Outreach Manager. "We have a designated outreach team in Center City where a client is not waiting an hour or two for someone to come and see if they want to go into shelter."

Keene is proud of the fact that this program can provide a literal vehicle to transport any willing individual to a shelter within minutes.

With 12 years as a CSR and three as an Ambassador of Hope, Savage knows that not everyone is ready to accept help. But the success stories keep him walking the streets despite being at retirement age.

"To my surprise, some have moved on. They've got housing. They've even moved on to going back to school, gotten careers," he said. "That lets me know that the program is working and it does accomplish much."

To learn more about Center City District and their Ambassadors of Hope program, visit their website.

RELATED: Pa. family brings Christmas celebration to the homeless, others in need