By Peter G. Sanchez
Catholic News Service
CAMDEN, N.J. (CNS) — Musician Jon Bon Jovi visited the future site of Joseph’s House of Camden in an effort to ensure that Camden’s homeless would no longer just be "Livin’ on a Prayer."
"Today we have the opportunity to see the progress on what a year ago was just a vision," Bon Jovi, a New Jersey native, said Nov. 6. He was joined by leaders of the Camden Diocese, Camden Mayor Dana Redd and donors as well as individuals who benefited from Joseph’s House.
First opening near the city’s business district in 2010, Joseph’s House has served as a temporary, six-month facility offering food and shelter for Camden’s chronically homeless during the winter months.
Last summer, a 17,000-square-foot facility was acquired, and when completed at the end of this year or early next year, the new Joseph’s House will accommodate 75 adults each night. It will provide food, shelter and services year-round for Camden’s homeless.
"We not only realize the need for safe and accessible shelter, but also the need to have many services provided under one roof, and help (the homeless) secure a more stable future, by having the opportunity to take the next step," Bon Jovi said.
The house is partially funded by the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, which, since 2006, has helped families and individuals in economic despair by assisting programs that provide food and affordable housing, social services and job-training programs. According to the facility’s website, www.josephshouseofcamden.org, the newly acquired building will undergo three months of renovation.
The Joseph Fund, a Camden-based organization that provides fundraising and consultative support to the ministries served by St. Joseph’s Pro-Cathedral, is also supporting Joseph’s House.
The work of Joseph’s House is "strictly out of the Gospel, in caring for God’s people," said Msgr. Robert McDermott, board chairman of the Joseph Fund and pastor of St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral.
"Joseph’s House is designed to connect individuals with services that can lead them out of homelessness," he said. "Through help from our community partners, we hope to provide the support necessary for those who visit us to escape poverty."
Partnering with Joseph’s House is Project HOME, which is dedicated to serving the medical and social needs of the homeless population by providing case management services and health care, mental health and substance abuse services. As well, Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden will operate a free onsite medical clinic with volunteer physicians and nurses.
Mercy Sister Mary Scullion said that the rocker’s visit was "a great sign of hope for Camden, not only for the tremendous leadership of Jon Bon Jovi, but for so many other supporters who make this all work."
Sister Scullion is on the board of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and co-founder, executive director and president of Project HOME in Philadelphia, a nationally recognized organization that aids the chronically homeless and low-income individuals.
Along with support from the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, other funders of Joseph’s House include the TD Bank Foundation and Halloran Philanthropies.
Speaking to a packed room, filled with energy that one could easily find at one of his concerts, Bon Jovi offered encouragement and inspiration.
"If there’s anyone out there who can lend their skills, assets or resources to Camden, Philadelphia, or their hometown, I encourage you to do so," he said. "We know the government can’t do it alone. We know the private sector can’t do it alone. Together, we can."
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Sanchez is the staff writer for the Catholic Star Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Camden, N.J.
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