Cathedral Kitchen has been feeding people in Camden in for more than three decades. Many years past, I helped by volunteering to serve; more recently, I've been limited to making donations. But over the years I've consistently noticed growth in its professionalism, while the compassion that prompted the kitchen's formation continues. In the old days, there was something of a rough-and-ready approach, as the food came in casseroles (serving eight) that were made in homes by people intent on doing a good deed. Unfortunately, there could also be serious differences in the food's quality. Some was excellent, but some was out-and-out horrible, however much kindness went into its making. That weakness has long been overcome; meanwhile, the organization has expanded beyond its original mission of feeding the hungry (and feeding them good, inviting food) to include programs such as a dental clinic and job training in culinary arts.
I was employed at a major university in Camden and wanted to find a way to give back to the Camden community. I knew a little about the Cathedral Kitchen through the meals program that my wife would cook up, so I vounteered to help out. Before I knew it, I was on the Board, and what a rewarding experience. The CK has grown in so many ways in the past 10 years. We were challanged to get beyond the daily dinners. Well, we have done that in our new facility, now offering education courses in cooking, dental and medical services, social services and of course, great meals. The CK is good people doing great things. What a wonderful organization in such a severly depressed city.
I've had the privilege of volunteering on a few Saturday's at Cathedral Kitchen. I was very impressed. The organization operates professionally while maintaining a welcoming atmosphere for it's guests. All are treated with dignity and everyone is welcome. The food served is nutritious, balanced and plentiful. The facility is exceptionally clean, has clean restrooms, as well as an easily accessible hand washing center. Guests are often given food to take with them, such a pre-wrapped garden salads. Guests can also choose to eat while at Cathedral Kitchen or they are offered aluminum foil it they choose to enjoy the food elsewhere.
The Cathedral Kitchen is close to my heart having volunteered there about 20 years and have seen i t grow from a small operation in a church basement to the beautiful building which now house it. My husband and I serve coffee or cold drinks to the guests each Tuesday and then help with the cleanup. Many of the poor who come almost daily, now know us by name . We are greeted warmly and always thanked for our service. More than 300 meals are served daily. It is a joy to give this service.
As a volunteer for over 15 years I have seen this wonderful organization grow from a small group of very dedicated volunteers serving a warm dinner to poor and homeless of Camden to one which offers counseling, job training, medical and dental care, as well as food to anyone in need. The clients are treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve. The new facility is warm and inviting and their is always someone willing to listen and spend some time with those less fortunate.
As a volunteer and board member for six years, I have watched Cathedral Kitchen improve the lives of Camden's poor in many ways. Guests dine in a respectful atmosphere. They are served with dignity. They show gratitude. Through the medical and dental clinics their physical conditions are cared for. The culinary arts training program prepares over 50 students a year for jobs, and helps them find them. The CK social worker helps guests find housing and program placement. Cathedral Kitchen has become a beacon of hope in Camden.
In one of the most challenging areas of New Jersey a small group of individuals set out to feed a few people in need. It was not long before the realization of how great the need really was and still remains. Thorough grassroots planning and fundraising The Cathedral Kitchen continues to serve those in the area with food, fellowship, dignity and a guiding hand towards self sufficiency. I have seen the difference it is has made in the last 9 years, not only to those receive the much need services but those it who volunteer. They partnership with several schools and community groups to structure meaningful volunteer opportunities to give youths the opportunity to help others and hopefully to instill in their life long value the need to always give back.
My kids starting donating their time as a part of their community service project at school and I quickly learned how great the need was in Camden, for individuals to simply have a meal and the opportunity to socialize with others in a warm, safe environment. The Kitchen has a wonderful group of volunteers, who help serve meals and keep up a wonderful building. The Catherdral Soup Kitchen obtains donations of food from a some wonderful companies and have a number of individual donations to support providing meals, but the need is great. In addition they provide dental services, a job training program and many other valuable services for the community.
I have been a volunteer at the Cathedral Soup Kitchen for 24 years and a Board member for the last six years. I have seen first hand how the mission of feeding the poor and needy in Camden, NJ is efficiently carried out each day in a manner that provides dignity and respect for those whom are served. I have also witnessed the growth of the Cathedral Kitchen's outreach whereby it has expanded to not only feeding the less fortunate but also addressing their more holistic needs including services for dental, medical, optical and job training needs. Specifically the Culinary Arts Training (CAT) Program has been hugely successful in training, graduating and placing men and women in the Food Service industry who previously were untrained and unemployed.