SSJ Neighborhood Center

COVID-19 Updates for the SSJ Neighborhood Center:

The Food Pantry WILL HAVE distribution on Wednesday, May 19th from 2:30-6:30PM to provide for our neighbors in need of food. We will be taking measures to prevent overcrowding and hope for good weather to facilitate outdoor distribution. Anyone interested in volunteering to help with distribution can e-mail or contact us directly to let us know you are coming.

Those in need of food assistance before then should visit/contact the SSJ Neighborhood Center. Food is available for distribution from our pantry during the week. Items for babies & toddlers are also available if you visit the Neighborhood Center during the week.

Neighbors are encouraged to sign up for a plot in our Community Garden. Community partners will be clearing plots at the beginning of May and planting can begin soon after. Those interested in growing in the community garden can visit the Center, email or call (856) 338-8220 for more information.

Our Spring Semester English classes came to a conclusion at the end of April. Registration & testing for the Fall semester (which begins in late September) will take place in August and September. Those interested in taking class should call (856) 338-8220. We hope that this fall's classes will be in-person following all necessary safety precautions.

Sewing, Crocheting, and Computer classes are suspended until further notice.

-Where Community Comes Alive-

Uniting Neighbor to Neighbor and Neighborhood to Neighborhood in Camden, New Jersey & beyond

~A Sponsored Ministry of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Philadelphia~

P.O. Box 1446, 904 North 25th Street, Camden, New Jersey 08105

News & Happenings

Welcoming the New Year

As we welcome 2021, there is much to be grateful for as we look back on 2020.

In the midst of a global pandemic, the SSJ Neighborhood Center has been hard at work trying to provide for our neighbors in need. Although we've been restricted in the ways we can gather in-person, we found ways to connect and continue our ministry online in the fall semester. Our English classes, which transitioned online suddenly in March 2020, were completely virtual this fall. While it took some adjusting and training to pull off, our volunteer teachers and students were amazingly flexible and resilient in adjusting to the new format for learning. With both morning and evening classes online, we found that we could meet the needs of our students unusual pandemic schedules, adjusting to having children and home and making space and computers available at the Center for those without proper technological access. We celebrated the end of the semester with a bilingual Advent prayer service online, which brought together students, volunteers, board members, and sisters to share in the season and to give thanks for God's many gifts.

Our distribution of food has continued outdoors as we've moved into the winter months. Heavy jackets and gloves to stay warm are a small price to pay for the health and safety of all those we serve. We give thanks for the generous donors who keep our food pantry stocked and the volunteers who help on distribution days, without whom we wouldn't be able to meet the growing needs of our neighborhood.

In December, we also hosted our first Neighbor to Neighbor Sharing Market, a opportunity for neighbors to choose home goods, decorations, gifts, and other wares that we have stored up while the "free table" has not been running at our food pantry during the pandemic. This event was a wonderful success, utilizing the whole hall beneath the Center and sharing the abundance we are blessed from our neighbors near and far with our neighbors here in Camden.

2020 was a difficult year in many ways. We miss seeing our neighbors as often as we're used to and have had to adjust the way we do what we do, but with God's grace we trust that 2021 holds the promise of better days and are discovering the graces that came with the adjustments required by the coronavirus pandemic. We pray that the year ahead bring good health and blessings to all. Thank you for the many ways you join us in community and here's to all 2021 will hold!

A Summer Like No Other

With the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 is certainly a year unlike any other. After a few months of classes at the Center, we suspended English, sewing, computer, and crocheting classes in mid-March as the public health situation become strikingly apparent. Yet, even with classes suspended and the day-to-day routine upended, we've continued to respond to the needs of our neighbor. As the spring and summer progressed we planted and harvested our community garden with the help of a select group of faithful farmers tending to the crops.

Meanwhile, our food pantry is busier than ever! Before COVID-19, we served about 150 families on a given distribution day, now in the midst of the pandemic we are helping to feed nearly 300 families every third Wednesday of the month, as well as providing groceries, fruit, and other goods to local students through the Catholic Partnership Schools in Camden. All our distribution is now done outside for the safety of all and we've welcomed a load of (socially-distanced & masked) volunteers to help us meet the increased demand. Increased demand has also been met by the abundant generosity of our neighbors near and far who've helped us keep our shelves stocked.

As the community and country face COVID-19, we're also facing the growing awareness of the systemic racism in our country which effects all of us. The Center is trying to do our part to empower the community and, in living our mission each day, emphasizing the dignity of all people, the need to love our neighbors, and the work we must do to confront the sin of racism in our hearts and in our world.

Starting the New Year

2020 is off to a great start! In January and February, our English classes got up and running. We welcomed our largest student body yet- with 10 sections of English offered throughout the week. Our teacher volunteers are ready for any good work & our students are learning more and more each day!

Sewing & Crocheting continue on Mondays and Tuesdays, with new projects abounding. Computer classes will begin on Monday, February 17th from 3:30- 4:30PM and we're getting ready for our Neighborhood Mardi Gras Potluck Celebration on Sunday, February 23rd at 2PM! All are Welcome!

Giving Thanks

Our Fall has been full of things to give thanks for! Neighbors in our sewing group all made aprons for Thanksgiving, our crocheting class is growing, and volunteers from near and far have joined us to build community by doing everything from helping to teach English to constructing and filling new garden beds. What a season to give thanks for our many blessings!

Falling into Fall!

As the weather turns cooler and the sunlight gets a little dimmer, the Sisters of Saint Joseph Neighborhood Center is shining a light for all to see. October marks the beginning of a new semester of programming, including newly added Sewing, Crocheting, and Computer classes as well as the return of English classes (now during the day and evening) and Neighborhood Prayer group. As always, the Food Pantry continues to thrive and feed all those in need!

We've been blessed!

June 1, 2019 marked the dedication and blessing of the Sisters of Saint Joseph Neighborhood Center. The day was filled with joy and gratitude for the many people that have helped to get us to this point. Work on the Center will continue throughout the summer and programming will be in full force this fall!

Our Fall 2018 English Classes have come to a close! All three levels of classes came together to celebrate the successful completion of the semester. Many students will continue in the classes, which begin again in January, and we are registering new students now. Thanks to our wonderful teachers and volunteers who are making this program possible.