Community Responding in Belief, with a community house


Photo by Maria D’Antonio

yya-webTour guide Chris Alicea, who will be moving into the C.R.I.B. early next year, points out the community garden next to the building, where such vegetables as corn, tomatoes and okra can grow, during the housewarming on Monday, Nov. 8. With three floors and 18 rooms, the C.R.I.B. can accomodate up to 10 residents.

CAMDEN — On Monday, Nov. 8, Hopeworks ’N Camden invited the community to an open housewarming for its C.R.I.B. residence, which will bring together young Camden students in an environment designed to foster success and help youth reach their full potential.

The C.R.I.B. stands for “Community Responding in Belief” — the belief that with a safe, functional support system with everyone working to achieve success, that success will be more fully realized.

The three-floor, 18-room house, formerly a convent, will be able to house up to 10 college-age youth who, as a requirement for residence, have to be in college working on a degree and employed by Hopeworks ’N Camden.

The heart of Hopeworks is technology training in state-of-the art computer applications: website design, geographic information services (GIS), computer networking and repair, and video.

Hopeworks seeks to reduce the high school dropout rate for African-American and Hispanic youth in the city, and to create hope for the future through good-paying jobs, business development, and educational opportunities for Camden’s young people, specifically African-American and Hispanic youth between the ages of 17 and 25 who have dropped out of school.

The Hopeworks website provides statistics about Camden that demonstrate the need for the program and its mission:

— There are 8,000 young people who have dropped out of high school.

— The high school dropout rate is close to 70 percent at the two public high schools.

— Thirty-four percent of the city’s young people are unemployed.

— Nearly 50 percent of the city’s young people live in poverty.

“In order for these youth to be successful, they need support, and they need to feel connected,” said Jesuit Father Jeff Puthoff, executive director of Hopeworks.

The residence is an alternative to the living situations of many of Camden’s youth.

“We’re creating a community of success,” Father Puthoff said.

College students living in the C.R.I.B. also learn money management, have a corporate internship, and provide support and guidance for trainees at Hopeworks, whose building is a few houses down from the C.R.I.B.’s location at 517 State Street.

The new building currently houses only one resident, but more are scheduled to move in shortly and will live there for up to two years.

Visitors on Monday were treated to a tour of the house, whose interior includes a living room, family room, and dining room where members can study together, hold community meetings, or make meals together. Outside is a community garden, where crops such as blueberries, corn, peppers, okra, and tomatoes can be grown.

For information on the C.R.I.B., go to