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Joe’s Place in Camden Keeps Hope Alive

Joe’s Place is a space in Camden rehabbed by Sacred Heart Church where on each Saturday and on the holidays those in need can come in and get a free dinner. Each week a different family or group provides the meal. Last Saturday I had the pleasure along with my wife Deneen and sons Lennon and Albert.

Steve Trevelise at Joe's Place
Steve Trevelise

Joe’s Place is named after Joseph A. Pacera, who was a senior vice president for corporate services at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden. Joe was very passionate about the poor and caring for the poor. Among his many contributions, Pacera was instrumental in the development of many hospital based community programs during his tenure from 1976-93.


Jack Cantwell and Chick Warrington volunteer every weekend as well as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. “You can say the reason we do this is it allows local residents, businesses and other people to sit down, have a hot meal and enjoy the fellowship of their neighbors”


Joe's Place in Camden NJ
Steve Trevelise/Townsquare Media

We brought a meal of stuffed shells, meatballs, green beans, salad, bread, fruit, and cookies and the line was backed up when we opened the doors at 4p. “The people that we serve” says Cantwell “are the residents of the neighborhood waterfront south. We have married people, single people, grandmothers raising children.” All different people each with a story to tell, each making up a neighborhood in need.”


The meal starts with a speech made by Ben Hill who also leads the room in grace. Then the line forms as people line up for stuffed shells, meatballs, salad, soda, cookies and coffee, then comes lots of interesting stories then cleanup.


For people who don’t go to or have never been to Camden, it’s a place where you’d never want to be lost. For the people of Joe’s Place, the hope is that one day, they are found.

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