Camden families get warm home for holidays

CAMDEN, N.J. - December 2, 2011 The Heart of Camden's central focus is improving the quality of life for neighborhood children by providing families with decent housing. And they honored Jon Bon Jovi for his help in reaching that goal.

"Without it, I don't know where we'd be," said Willie Barnes.

Willie Barnes is talking about his new home at 1814 Filmore Street in Camden.

"It's marvelous," said Barnes. "The house is marvelous. I used to be there years ago, and now I'm back in a renewed house, and I love it."

Two months ago Willie and his family were the victims of foreclosure, but the Heart of Camden came to their rescue, offering them what it has provided more than 200 families since 1984, a quality home at an affordable price.

"The homes in this neighborhood are about $500 to $600 payments a month," explained Helene Pierson of Heart of Camden.

It serves working class people.

"Teachers and hospital workers, lower wage earners who really work hard and have great families," said Pierson.

The organization rehabilitates abandoned houses in Camden's severely distressed neighborhood of Waterfront South.

"We take abandoned homes, pretty much gut them out, and rebuild them from the basement up," said Phil Nippins.

And they've been doing it with the help of Jon Bon Jovi's "Soul Foundation".

"Jon Bon Jovi gave us some money to so some green things to it," said Nippins.

"Bon Jovi showed up just at a critical time for us to continue our work," said Pierson.

Heart of Camden has been government-funded for years, but recently that money has dried up.

Bon Jovi has helped finance a dozen homes this year.

"We have 12 homes just completed, and 13 more under construction," said Nippins.

"Hopefully some more families are going to move in here and try to change this neighborhood around," said Barnes. They are paying tribute to Jon Bon Jovi Friday night. He's receiving an award from the "Heart of Camden" for the powerful impact his Soul Foundation has had on the people who live in the city of Camden.
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