Greetings to the friends of CFET!
We are bombarded every day with bad news. It is impossible to listen to the radio, pick up the newspaper or watch network television and hear a good story, a story of new life, of hope. This is particularly true of our beloved city of Camden, NJ. People come to CFET to volunteer in our gardens or to spend a weekend or week with us on retreat; invariably they leave us with comments like: “I never knew anything good was happening in Camden.” “The people are so friendly, more friendly than my suburban neighbors.” “There is so much wonderful activity going on here. Why don’t we know this is happening?” Indeed, why don’t people know? Ari Rosenberg, our Urban Farm Manager and Educator, recently visited a Camden County College classroom here in Camden to tell the CFET story to students. They were quite impressed by what they heard, and they exclaimed: “Why haven’t we heard about this organization, CFET?” We need to change that. We need you, our friends, people who have spent time with us, to tell our story. There is good stuff happening in Camden. Despite the struggles of the public schools, the city management, and the new county police force patrolling our city, there is amazing stuff happening. It is the stuff of resurrection, of new life, of hope. There are people who are committed to enabling Camden City to become, once more, a safe and attractive place to raise children and sustain a community.
So, tell our story. Talk about your experience at CFET to your friends and family. Join our Facebook page, write a letter to the editor, come to our events, bring along a friend. And it is not just about CFET. There are amazing things happening in Camden. Think about the transformation worked by the St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society in East Camden, or the work of the Camden Children’s Garden, or the work of the Heart of Camden, in our neighborhood of Waterfront South. There is life in Camden, and despite what gets reported in the news, we are alive and kicking, and we are determined to rebuild Camden City to the honor and glory of God!
I’m reminded of the scene in the gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7. Jesus is sitting on a hill, giving his great “Sermon on the Mount.” This is where you find the beatitudes, and a clear exposition of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. I’ve always wondered how Jesus could have been heard from that mount. I mean, there were probably thousands of people gathered to hear him. How could they have heard him? He certainly didn’t have sound equipment! In the Monty Python movie, The Life of Brian, there is a scene depicting the sermon on the mount, which captures the situation. What probably happened is that as Jesus spoke people passed the word on to their neighbor who did the same until the word got to the last person in the crowd. Of course, in the Monty Python movie, “blessed are the peacemakers” becomes, through the passage, “blessed are the cheese makers!”
I think of this scene because the good news of Camden depends upon people like you telling your stories of the life that is happening in Camden. I encourage you to be the best advocates for Camden that you can be, speaking from your own experience at CFET or at any of the other worthy institutions that are working so diligently for and with the people and city of Camden. Our message should be that life and hope and resurrection are happening in Camden City, and we are confident that life will continue as people come to participate in what we do.
A few weeks ago, students from Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in Pennsauken spent several days with us on retreat. Their campus is a stone’s throw from Camden. The comments I shared above came from them. When asked what they can take back to school from their experience, several students said that they could tell Camden’s story of hope to their friends and their parents. We at CFET cannot talk to as many people as you can by talking to the people in your network, your family, and your place of employment. Invite people to join us, to get this e-newsletter, to participate in an event. Be our voice, our megaphone, our public relations. We need you! Camden needs you!
President, Board of Trustees