Smoothing Life's Roller Coaster

Smoothing Life's Roller Coaster

Author: Anne Vial and Ed Hess
August 05, 2020

Ed Hess hangs out at the church a lot – not as much these days, of course, but still his work goes on. If you happen to see him, he is likely to be collecting and/or distributing coats, backpacks, food, and water to neighbors throughout Camden County. Ed wears two hats around here, one as diligent and busy deacon and pillar of the church, and the other as the paid caseworker for the Haddonfield Council of Churches (HCC). Ed is the one who meets and talks with community members who come to any of the churches in town asking for help. His resources come from the member churches of the HCC and other community organizations. His office is tucked behind the balcony in First Presbyterian.

Ed serves an impressive number of people – you can see the numbers below. And he is able to help with a variety of needs. Types of assistance provided include bus passes, Acme cards, consultations, referrals, food pantry, rental assistance, and utility shut-off. Ed works with individuals and families who are unemployed, homeless, hungry, seeking benefits to which they are entitled, in need of legal counsel or just searching for someone to whom they can share their burdens. Not only has Ed provided financial assistance for rent, utilities, transportation, and food, but he has also assisted many in finding resources to which they are entitled through Camden County Social Services, the V.A., their insurance carriers, and pension providers. Ed is humble about what he does, but his work has enormous impact. As you might imagine, the folks who come to him are experiencing even greater need in the midst of COVID-19.

The numbers tell the practical side of the story. The fuller picture is much richer. When you talk to Ed, you know that Ed’s clients become like family to him. He rides the roller coaster of income and food insecurity with them and finds ways to make the ride smoother. He anticipates who will come see him and with what need. He knows which families will need toys to give their kids at Christmas. It’s true that Ed is paid for the social work part of his job. It is also true that he goes well beyond the hours and effort required in his part-time job. As First Presbyterian takes up the challenge of becoming a Matthew 25 church, here is one disciple already leading the way.

Summary of Caseworkers Services in 2019 – the numbers part of the story:

Number of Clients Receiving Services    
   80  Haddonfield Church Members                
   42  New clients           
 116  Phone calls received                   

Types of Assistance Provided
   37  Bus passes
 209  Acme card
   59  Petty cash (under $20)
 109  Consultations
   26  Referrals
   33  Food pantry
   72  Rental assistance
   35   Homelessness
   69  Utility Shut-off
Miscellaneous - assistance with furniture, motel, hospital, Walmart gift cards, license fees, blankets and sheets, court fees, storage fees, prescription drugs, U.S. Government shut down, coats and clothes, child support payments, funeral expenses, car repair, work clothes, phone minutes.

Christmas & Thanksgiving
   36  Calls for Christmas and Thanksgiving
     7  Sponsored families
   19  Provided toys for additional families



First Presbyterian Church


20 King's Highway East, Haddonfield, NJ 08033
(856) 429-1960