Monthly Archives: December 2011


Letter from the Executive Director

Letter from the Executive Director

2011 has been an exciting year for the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation – starting off quickly with the opening of two projects: Covenant House’s Rights of Passage residence and Project Home’s Connelly House. It was then full steam ahead with the Foundation’s expansion into discovering and finding ways to combat hunger among low-income populations, often the working poor. Through a deepening of our work with the homeless and creating affordable housing, we learned that so many families, struggling to maintain their homes, were also experiencing food insecurity issues. Whether it be not knowing where their next meal would come from or from having to make the tough decision between paying a bill or buying food for the family, we knew that to truly create a healthy home we also needed to provide opportunity for nutritious meals.

The model we selected is that of a “community kitchen” – And Soul Kitchen was born. Here, in a warm, inviting setting – where all are welcome, food is the vehicle for bringing “community” together. Many come to dine and pay the recommended donation knowing that their support will help feed those less fortunate. Those who come to dine with us who cannot afford to pay have the ability to volunteer an hour of their time in exchange for their meal. Other local community organizations that have contact with families experiencing food insecurity may utilize the volunteer services of their clients and in return provide them with a dining certificate to Soul Kitchen. This builds “community” and connection and enables access to nutritious, freshly prepared meals served with cheerfulness, kindness and respect.

The Soul Kitchen operation is one that could only work with the dedicated support of the surrounding community as well as the many, MANY volunteers that give so generously of their time and effort to make this work. A special thanks to ALL of you!!!

I’ve started this year-end wrap up and note of appreciation several times and am so overwhelmed with all the support the Foundation has received this past year, it is difficult to put it into words. Beginning with our wonderful, supportive and involved Board of Directors whose compassionately visionary direction makes it always challenging, exciting and rewarding to execute the programming – I thank you!!

Letter from the Executive Director

Jon Bon Jovi has leveraged awareness of many issues by bringing them into the global spotlight. Forbes ranked Jon Bon Jovi’s charitable efforts first when they gauged the amount/percentage of time celebrities donated to charitable activities. Thank you Jon!

To the many who, in spite of the hard times you are experiencing yourselves, find a way to give, whether it be time or money, you are truly an inspiring and motivating presence – you are always close to our hearts and you are our Soul – I thank you!!

And to those who have chosen to quietly, without the need for attention to your actions and good deeds, given back within your communities – we thank you for recognizing that we all have the ability to make a difference in someone else’s life!!

As we enter 2012, with many exciting housing projects and partnerships on the horizon, we will need your continuing support and as our short history has shown us, we know you will be there alongside us.

So thanks to All! I wish you all good health and peace and a happy 2012!!

Best Wishes,
December, 2011


Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation Honored at Heart of Camden Gala

Please visit our Photo Gallery to see images from the Gala.

Watch Jon Bon Jovi’s interview with ABC Action News:

Bon Jovi earns honor for effort to aid Camden

Written By: Joe Cooney, Courier-Post Staff

CHERRY HILL — Rocker Jon Bon Jovi came to town Friday night to accept the “Small Things, Great Love” Award at the second annual Heart of Camden Gala. And during his remarks — contrary to the egotistical image one might conjure of an international superstar — the New Jersey native barely used the pronoun “I.”

“We are big believers in the power of we,” said the singer, founder of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation. “Tonight we’re here to shine a light. We’re coming together to take control and make a difference.

“Government can’t do it alone. Residents or rock stars can’t do it alone. This award is not about me, it’s about us.”

The musician’s philanthropic efforts in the Delaware Valley began in 2006 when he helped support the construction of nearly 300 affordable housing units in Philadelphia.

In 2009, he turned his attention to Camden, and in the last two years his foundation has helped to clean up vacant lots, provide shelter for the homeless and — with a $262,000 grant to Heart of Camden — build nine homes in the Waterfront South area.

Heart of Camden Executive Director Helen Pierson said, “Jon Bon Jovi’s work, his spirit and the mission of his foundation is to help the families of Camden. He’s trying to give people better lives. And that fits the mission of the award.”

The award takes its names from the words of the late missionary Mother Teresa, who said, “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

The inspiration for the Heart of Camden Gala, said event co-chair Ann Baiada, was the “20/20” segment on Camden hosted by Diane Sawyer that aired in 2007.

“(Sawyer) mirrored the lives of kids in Moorestown with the kids in Camden,” said Baiada. “And I felt bad because we live in Moorestown. We had to do something. We finally met with Monsignor (Michael) Doyle and he told us, ‘just think of the children.’”

Doyle is the longtime pastor at Camden’s Sacred Heart Church, which started Heart of Camden in 1984.

“So last year we had our first gala and we honored Msgr. Doyle,” Baiada continued, noting that the $175 tickets to the event sold out quickly.

“We could have sold 1,000 tickets,” she said of the event held at the Crowne Plaza on Route 70. “But we had to cut it to 675. We hope to raise more than $200,000 this year. Jon has a good heart and he’s done a lot for New Jersey and he took a great interest in Camden because he believes in the same things we do: building homes; helping the homeless; and making neighborhoods safe.”

Camden Mayor Dana Redd introduced the rock star, saying that she had the privilege of being blessed by Mother Teresa when the nun visited the city in 1976.

“Tonight is about the city of Camden and her people. We have a great partner in the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, a strong partner in providing hope to our residents,” said Redd.

Invoking the prayer before the meal, Doyle referred to a couple of Bon Jovi song titles.

“God bless Jon Bon Jovi,” said the Irish cleric. “Help us continue ‘Living on a Prayer’ for Camden. And, oh, God, make sure ‘It’s All Right.’”

Bon Jovi, who declined to speak with the press, ended his remarks by saying, “When we were working in Philadelphia we learned a lot and were taught the difference between giving somebody a hand up and not a handout. Now, we’re committed to turning Camden around for the next generation.”