“Community development” is our umbrella category for partners who offer a broad range of services to improve the lives of low-income families and neighborhoods:
- Guadalupe Family Services helps families with basic needs such as food and housing; it also offers youth development programs and counseling for victims of trauma.
- Camden Community Partnership is a community development corporation focusing on redeveloping Camden neighborhoods to provide housing, infrastructure, green spaces, and jobs.
- Camden County Pop Up Library gives communities access to books while beautifying neighborhoods with hand-decorated “book arks.”
The Domenica Foundation adopts all the teens in Guadalupe’s popular Santa’s Helpers Christmas program. “Everyone wants to give toys to little kids,” notes Elena Piperno, the foundation’s executive director (pictured at right with Pepe and the next generation of Piperno philanthropists). “So we take the teen bags to make sure those kids get something great for Christmas too.”
Diapers save lives
Asked why he founded the Domenica Foundation to improve the lives of low-income families in southern New Jersey, Pepe Piperno is likely to tell the story of Sister Helen and the diapers.
Sister Helen Cole is the driving force behind Guadalupe Family Services, a multi-faceted social services agency in Camden. “I asked Sister Helen what they needed besides food,” Pepe remembers. “She said, ‘diapers.’ She said, ‘Diapers prevent child abuse. When a baby’s diaper needs changing, the baby cries. If the mother can’t change him, he keeps crying. And sometimes the mom just can’t cope.’”
“When I heard that” — Pepe’s voice fills with emotion — “I thought, How can I not do this simple thing?” Since then, the Piperno family and the Domenica Foundation have regularly delivered pallets of diapers for Guadalupe to give to parents in need.
Food and diapers were just the beginning. We also deliver items such as heaters for clients whose heat has been cut off and direct rent assistance. Our main support for Guadalupe Family Services, however, is unrestricted funding for Guadalupe’s services to underprivileged Camden residents, from basic needs to positive youth development to counseling services.