By John Klein, Executive Director, Joseph’s House of Camden
Wednesday 10 October 2012

David came to the Café in February. His story was not unfamiliar to us. He had been laid off several months before and used his savings to pay rent while looking for another job. David wasn't dealing with any mental health or substance abuse issues; rather, he was struggling to survive in these difficult economic times. When he showed up at our door he asked for some help to store his personal things. His savings were gone and his landlord had given him notice that he'd have to leave. He couldn’t afford public storage, so could we store things for him. We were able to find some warehouse space at no charge and helped David move his things into the warehouse. We piled them on an old piece of plywood and covered them with a tarp. David stayed nights with us at the Café and spent the daytime hours looking for work.

I spoke with David yesterday, October 9th. He's employed now, has been for the past 6 months. He's got a place to live now, too and has arranged for a truck to move his things out of the warehouse. He called just to say thanks, to bring me up to speed on how he's doing and to ask if he can volunteer at the Café this winter. He'd like to give back. I'm grateful we were there to bridge a gap for David, and grateful others will get to meet him, hear his story and come to know that together we can make a difference, one person at a time.

By John Klein, Executive Director, Joseph’s House of Camden
Thursday 10 May 2012

Tom is a 40 year old male diagnosed with HIV and in treatment for cancer of the spine. He also struggles with drug addiction and since 2005 has been chronically homeless. Tom started coming to the café in November of 2011 and little by little told us his story.

He wasn’t always homeless and addicted. In fact, in the years before 2005 Tom worked full time as a dietician, was married, owned a home and had a daughter. But all that slowly changed and unraveled when he first tried drugs around the age of 29. For years he told himself he could handle things, that his drug use was not taking a toll on his wife and daughter, and that he was still able to function at a high level at work. But those closest to him knew otherwise. Interventions failed and eventually Tom lost his wife and daughter, lost his home and his job. And somewhere along the way, maybe sharing a needle, Tom picked up HIV.

When he came to the Café in November Tom was sick. A few months before, cancer was discovered in his spine, and the chemotherapy treatments not only caused weight loss but made him sick in the stomach as well. He wanted a place to stay that was safe and warm. He found that with us, and hopefully more than that.

Tom is in an apartment of his own now and is focusing on his health and his addiction. Going through detox and learning skills to cope with his illness were difficult and painful for Tom. But sharing the journey with someone who listens, who cares, and who provides encouragement can make a difference. The road ahead of Tom is challenging, indeed. But he’s not travelling it alone. None of us are.

By John Klein, Executive Director, Joseph’s House of Camden
Thursday 2 February 2012

Tony Santanello, a fourteen-year-old boy from Deptford, NJ, is making his Confirmation at Holy Angels Church this spring. As part of his preparation for Confirmation he is required to perform some acts of service in his community. One day he saw an article in the Catholic Star Herald about Joseph's House and our work with and for the homeless, and immediately felt called to do his Confirmation service for the homeless.

Tony went to his mom and dad and asked their permission to write a letter to friends, family, and their church community about his Confirmation service requirement and the needs of the homeless in Camden. In the letter he stated that he wanted to help guests of Joseph's House by gathering donations of blankets and coats and whatever financial contributions people can make.

In just two weeks Tony received four huge bags of blankets and coats as well as $800.00 in contributions. Tony's Dad, Shawn Santanello, drove Tony and the donations to me at the Romero Center and handed everything over for us to use at Joseph's House.

I thanked Shawn and Kathy Santanello, Tony's parents, for their generosity and support. Tony is a really nice young kid who just wanted to do something about people suffering on the streets. He said, "I was really surprised at how much stuff came in; and all that money! I told my Mom and Dad that this is something we should do each year. So next year I'm gonna do it again. It's a good thing to do."

By Chelsea M. Clark
Monday 12 December 2011

Going to Joseph's House was a fantastic experience for me personally, and I believe for the entire group that went as well. The people who devote their time there are wonderful, and have a bright smile for everyone that walks through the door. They do the best they can with what they have, and in their attempts to provide the maximum care for each and every visitor to Joseph's house they become very innovative in their preparation of food, beverages, etc which was commendable.

The men and women that utilize Joseph's House were a joy to speak with, both friendly and appreciative of everything. It was a well needed reminder that there are people right in our own back yard who are in need, and a simple smile to go with their dinner went a long way! I enjoyed the opportunity to work with everyone there, and can't wait for my next visit!

By Vincent Shoultz, Safety Monitor, Joseph's House of Camden
Monday 28 February 2011

One night while monitoring the guests at Joseph's House, I noticed one of our guests (B) stand up from where he was sitting on the far side of the room nearest to the windows. After standing up, (B) began walking in between other guests that were lying on the floor as if he was performing in an obstacle course, headed to the rest room. (B) is one of our guests that suffers from a physical disability that causes him to frequently lose his balance. Nonetheless, his resiliency allowed him to finally make his way to the bathroom downstairs and finally back upstairs.

After (B) came upstairs from the bathroom, I noticed that (B) was not too eager to make his way back to his seat across the room, because he didn't want to trip on any of the other guests, making his way over there. Instead, (B's) only option was to sit in a high chair that he was eventually going to try and sleep on.

I encouraged (B) to follow me as I led him through the maze of human bodies lying on the floor. After I kindly asked 2 other guests if they could move over to allow (B) enough room to get past, they did without any hesitation. By having the guests move over, it allowed (B) to go to his seat without further problems.

That morning, while many guests were preparing to leave Joseph's House, and as (B) was about to walk out the door, he said to me, "Vince, through your compassion, I saw the love of Christ." I responded, "Amen, brother! (B), that is exactly who I want you to see - that is Christ and His love for us. And the love that He wants and instructs us to show towards others."

Those few kind words from (B) really made my day. So much, in fact, that I shared this story with numerous individuals throughout the next day. Those words really ministered to my spirit. I had to literally sit in a chair and reflect on what (B) said to me. Honestly, it brought tears to my eyes. "To God Be The Glory, Amen."