Here’s how people experiencing homelessness can earn $75, free lunch to pick up trash in Camden County

CAMDEN COUNTY, Nj – People experiencing homelessness have an opportunity to work and earn some cash and a free lunch in Camden County.

The Work Now program is a partnership between Camden County and Volunteers of America (VOA) Delaware Valley.

Five days a week ten people experiencing homelessness can sign up to pick up trash for the day and earn $75 and a free lunch.

David Williams, 36, started working for the program over a month ago and, with the VOA’s support, now has a full-time job.

“They don’t downplay us because some of us are homeless, don’t have jobs or whatever. They never downplay us, never. They encourage us,” said Williams. “It’s an amazing program. Supervisors Ms. Fitz, Mr. Carter, Mr. Williams, they helped me get a job at the job fair. They helped me get my birth certificate and Social Security card. They even took me to my interview.”

Since the program launched in August 2023, more than 85 individuals have participated, 15 now have a stable income and in March five have landed full-time jobs.

“We are big on meeting an individual where they are currently, so having our staff go out and conduct that outreach, meet them in the community of Camden and then being able to link them to services where they might not have been linked before,” said Devon Catts, Program Director for VOA Delaware Valley. “We bring them into the office in order to connect them to further wraparound services, whether that’s housing assistance, employment, building the resumes, being a resource and a reference for them. We help them with identification – so a barrier for this population is their identification, so birth certificate, Social Security card and then their State ID as well.”

Malcolm Flowers, 59, is a public safety security guard for Camden County and said he believes in the Work Now program.

Nearly a decade ago, Flowers was also experiencing homelessness and lived at a park for over a year until opportunity came calling through a similar VOA program. 

“I was able to get on that van faithfully every day on time, and they gave me an opportunity. I was able to feed myself, clothe myself and at the same time put a couple dollars away and save my money, so I can accumulate enough money to buy the things that I need,” said Flowers. “Camden County cared a lot, enough to invest in me and here I am today another participant in society again.”

On average, the group of ten collects 30 bags of trash during the five-hour work day.

Cathedral Kitchen prepares the free lunch, which usually includes two sandwiches, drinks, snacks and fruit.

The Work Now program costs $500 thousand a year for all the services offered, according to Camden County.

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