Respond, Inc. of Camden, NJ held a 50th Anniversary Celebration on September 29, 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Riverside Pavilion in Cherry Hill. Fox & Roach Charities was proud to be the honorary chair of this event, celebrating Respond’s 50 years of helping people help themselves in the city of Camden
Respond brings together people of all ages and walks of life to build a community able to overcome deeply rooted challenges. Fox & Roach Charities has supported Respond’s many worthy programs for 18 years, addressing homelessness, children’s education, vocation training and so much more.
More than 300 guests enjoyed an evening featuring dining, dancing, a silent auction and a program honoring Respond’s founders Dr. Stanley Menking, Dr. Charles Sayre, and Dr. Wilbert Mitchell.
Over $45,000 was raised to support the many programs Respond provides to Camden’s underserved residents.
Highlighting the event were official proclamations of tribute to Respond’s impact on the community from:
United States Senator Cory Booker
The Mayor, City of Camden
New Jersey State Senate and General Assembly
The Board of Chosen Freeholders of Camden County
Dr. Charles Sayre has been a spiritual leader in South Jersey for over 50 years. He served as senior minister for the Haddonfield United Methodist Church (HUMC) from 1965 until his retirement in 1990. During his early years at HUMC he became aware of the desperate needs of families in Camden. He mobilized churches throughout the region to support churches in Camden, and assigned Stanley Menking to represent HUMC. This lead to the formation of Respond, Inc. where Dr. Sayre has been a Respond board member since.
Dr. Sayre also was Chairman of the Board of State Street Housing, which provides Camden residents with safe and affordable rental housing. He has been Board member of Fellowship House for over 40 years. Fellowship House provides child care and mentoring for families in South Camden. He spearheaded efforts with hotel management unions in Atlantic City which led to the Culinary Arts Institute. He was also integral to the establishment of the Subaru Automotive Training Center at Respond.
He has served on numerous boards including Pennington School, Drew University, Princeton Seminary, Wesley University, Methodist Hospital and Magee Rehab in Philadelphia.
Dr. Sayre has also served on the Board of Trustees of Fox & Roach Charities.
Dr. Wilbert Mitchell is an educator who serves as the Executive Director of Respond, Inc., a nonprofit corporation proving educational and social services in Camden City and County for 50 years.
Dr. Mitchell has received numerous awards for his visionary work. In 2003, the New Jersey Department of Human Services awarded him the distinguished Aletha Wright Award for Excellence in Child Care and Early Education. As the past president of that body and member for more the 24 years, he continues to play an active role in the New Jersey Child Care Advisory Council.
Dr. Mitchell has been instrumental in securing grants exceeding $9 million in foundation dollars for Respond, facilitating the construction of playgrounds at the agency’s city child care facilities and a job training center in North Camden providing training in Culinary Arts, Automotive Technology, and Adult Education.
In addition to his work for Respond, as a resident of North Camden for many years, Dr. Mitchel has been a vital contributor to the work of the North Camden Greening Committee and the North Camden Steering Committee, partnering with a host of organizations and indigenous neighborhood groups.
Awarded a Ph.D. from Drew University, Dr. Stanley Menking was appointed as Minister of Mission at the Haddonfield United Methodist Church in 1966. Asked to develop programs in the multi-ethnic neighborhood in North Camden, during his tenure Wesley Village, a new 60 unit apartment complex was built in North Camden and in response to the expressed needs of the community, two small day care centers were started. When he left in 1977, the ministry had grown into RESPOND, INC., with 135 paid staff serving more day care centers, rental housing, housing renovation, employment needs, senior citizens needs, and youth programs. The ministy was serving 5,000 people with a budget of over $1.5 million.
In 1977, Dr. Menking became the Associate Dean of the Theological School at Drew University in Madison, N.J. While at Drew he led a nationwide campaign to raise $2.75 million for the construction of the United Methodist Archive and History Center on its campus. His final appointment began in 1985 as the Associate Dean at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. After 13 years of leading continuing education for clergy and Laity and the Doctor of Ministry program he retired in 1997.
Since retiring to Pocono Pines, PA he has specialized in generational studies, leadership training for clergy as well as providing demographic consulting for over 200 churches. Active in the Mt. Pocono United Methodist Church, Dr. Menking led its capital campaigns to raise $2 million for a new addition. From March 2011 until June 30, 2012 he served as the interim pastor of the church. In 2016 he served as interim pastor at the Salem UCC Church in Pocono Pines.
For 50 years, Respond, Inc. has been serving the people and community of Camden, NJ with programs including job training and job development, child care and early childhood development, summer youth employment readiness, affordable housing and home buying, elder care, and providing assistance to the homeless.
Helping people help themselves, Respond says Hope Happens Here.
Fox & Roach Charities’ Board of Trustees has made a three year commitment of $80,000 in grant funding to Respond. Funds are being used to purchase smart boards and computers fo Respond’s preschool centers, ensuring that every non-board-of-education funded classroom at the schools has the same learning systems and computers as the funded ones. Here are some photos of a visit to Respond to see the new equipment in action.