Camden County offers one-stop shopping for the homeless seeking help

David Madden
November 14, 2018 - 3:18 pm

David Madden | KYW Newsradio

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CAMDEN, NJ (KYW Newsradio) — For the second straight year, Camden County hosted an open house for the homeless to get help, and maybe turn their lives around.

At any one time, a thousand people are living on the street throughout the county, and Cathedral Kitchen sees a lot of them year round. That made their headquarters the perfect spot for this event.

Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez coordinated the effort to bring more than 30 service providers together, although the goal is to make a long-term difference.

"If everybody tries to fix the problem by themselves, we’re all going to fail," she told KYW Newsradio. "But if we all come together and have the common goal of saving a life, rather than just providing a service, then we can make a difference."

The approach is working. Chris Lentine used to be homeless until he got a job with the help of Volunteers of America.

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“Now, I’m in my own place and doing a lot better," he said.

Some 75 people took advantage of the help offered, which included everything from getting a haircut and a shower, to getting fresh clothes for winter and perhaps a little counseling.

But one new service, offered through the county library system, can actually unify a family. A national nonprofit, Miracle Messages, is offering its services.

“The goal of Miracle Messages is to reunite people experiencing homelessness with family members through both voice messages and video messages,” said Julie Tozer, a librarian.

The organization operates a toll-free line, 1-800-MISS-YOU, where homeless people can leave a message and staffers endeavor to find a loved one.

On Nov. 29, they will be at the library’s downtown Camden branch, located at 5th and Penn streets, to record video messages.