Sunday we were blessed with another great turnout for our Welcoming Cookout of the new Summer Intern group. Not only did the previous Intern group travel to come hang out and greet the new guys, but we were joined by many community colleagues and Jim Greenfield, Provincial of the Oblates of St Francis de Sales. Despite the warm weather, it was a good time had by all. A few Intern parents were able to stay and enjoy Camden for a short while.
Orientation Day! Today was a day for reflecting on expectations and goals for their internship while in Camden. We discussed Salesian Spirituality, our own faith journeys, and hopes during their stay here. A driving tour of different neighborhoods of Camden oriented everyone with the layout of the city, as well as getting a history lesson of the major issues of Camden- from the bad education system, drug trade, lack of industry, depleted tax base, etc. We also toured the different ministry sites of each Intern. They are:
- Molly M– Hopeworks N Camden
- Molly E and Claire- Organized Camp Camden- a daily sports and arts & crafts camp where neighborhood kids can come and use the park in a safe, organized setting.
- Maddie- Neighborhood Beautification projects- Will consist of art projects and face painting in the park with Camp Camden, as well as local neighborhood projects.
- Sam- Working at the Northgate Summer Program with Jesuit Volunteer Nicole.
The first day of work! It was a warm morning, but the activity was passing out flyers for Hopeworks in the neighborhoods. It’s a very direct ministry, meeting people on the streets and having simple conversations with them that could impact them enough to join the youth education program. Most people who start at Hopeworks got there because they saw a flyer somewhere, so its a very important ministry that helps young high school drop-outs get back on track to college. In the afternoon each Intern went to their various ministry sites, while the Camp Camden organizers met to plan out the camps activities, which will start the following Monday, July 9th.
Happy 4th of July!! Today was a relaxing day off to enjoy the holiday. The Interns went for a walk along the Camden waterfront before heading over to Patrick and Kathleen Duffy’s house for a cookout with the Jesuit Volunteers. They live just a few minutes from Camden in a quiet neighborhood, and it was a relaxing place to enjoy the holiday. Afterwards we all went to Philly to enjoy a free concert along the Ben Franklin Parkway and see fireworks light up the sky in front of the Philly Art Museum!
Thursday morning we worked with a local IHM nun, the kind Sister Claire, with two tasks. We split up in two groups, one was visiting neighborhood residents to do House Blessings, a tradition more common in Hispanic cultures. The second group went around to local corner stores, or Bodegas, and put up flyers for Camp Camden, the sports camps the Interns are hosting in the park. For dinner we were fortunate to be joined by Angel Osorio, our speaker for the evening. She was born and raised in Camden, and although she lives outside the city now she has been working for years for the betterment of Camden. Currently she runs the DCCB, a group that focuses on quality of life issues in the city. Angel shared her thoughts and experiences about Camden and her knowledge gained through the years.
Habitat for Humanity! It was a long and hot day at Habitat, but we worked on a house that should be completed in the next couple of weeks. The group painted hand rails to install for stairs, and dug drainage ditches to prevent water runoff into the street. After Habitat, we split up in two groups- one passed out flyers for Camp Camden, while others met with Bryan Morton to smooth out details of the park events next week. Monday is the first day of camp!
Saturday morning was an early one- we met up with artist William Butler to play soccer with him and his kids in Johnson Park in Camden. He also showed us around his art studio in a restored firehouse. William moved here with his wife Ronja and kids about a year ago, feeling called to be in Camden and use his art as part of his mission of restoration. Later on the Interns enjoyed a day out in Philly and went to a Phillies game!