Grantee Update: Heart of Camden

Some of the young people served at the Michael J. Doyle Field House in South Camden.

Our 2023 $100,000 Core Mission grantee, Heart of Camden (HoC), is committed to enhancing the quality of life of the South Camden community through programs for housing restoration, economic expansion, and community development. Impact100 South Jersey’s grant furthered that mission by funding the expansion of programming and services provided by the organization’s Bridge Builders Project at the Michael J. Doyle Fieldhouse. Through education about the City of Camden, the Bridge Builders Project connects critical services provided by outside volunteers and supporters to residents, young people, women, and women with children and families to build a stronger community.

At the Fieldhouse, HOC operates a full-scale recreational gym, a food pantry, an arts/culture loft, community-accessible conference rooms, and nonprofit offices. Programming historically ranges from youth sports to open gym sessions to family-friendly BBQ’s. Services have ranged from food distribution (box lunches, non-perishable items, sandwiches) and clothing distribution (baby clothes, pajamas, jackets) to diaper and formula
giveaways to vaccination clinics and healthcare screenings. While the past 10 years have been a success, HOC’s recent neighborhood planning process revealed that there’s still work to do to meet the full needs of women, children, and families in Waterfront South and South Camden.

Community members participating in Heart of Camden’s Neighborhood Plan feedback sessions.

Continuing to grow, HoC recently received a $1 million grant from NJ’s Department of Community Affairs, New Jersey American Water, and Campbell’s to build more affordable housing, new community facilities, make improvements to the Michael J. Doyle Fieldhouse. New funding also supports programming and community activities that benefit the Waterfront South neighborhood, South Camden, and the City of Camden as a whole.

The increased funding will be used to implement Heart of Camden’s Catch the Wave: Waterfront South Neighborhood Plan. The Plan is the result of a twelve-month, community-driven planning process organized by HoC. It sets forth a shared vision for the neighborhood’s future with recommendations and strategies that will guide revitalization initiatives for the next ten years.

“It capitalizes on the many accomplishments of the past decade, and the unique assets defining the community to address some of the neighborhood’s most pressing needs.” said Carlos Morales, Executive Director of HoC. The comprehensive ten-year community development vision identifies goals for housing, economic development, youth, greening, arts & culture, public safety, and many other important aspects of the neighborhood.

Opportunities Beyond the Check

Heart of Camden is in need of skilled volunteers and Board members willing to assist in providing affordable housing, community development, and direct family services. Specifically, HoC would appreciate assistance in the areas of marketing, accounting, financial management, or strategic planning — either as part of its Board or as a volunteer. To learn more, start by completing Heart of Camden’s volunteer form.

HOC also accepts in-kind donations of diapers and non-perishable food items on a rolling basis.