Same Service, Different City

Tyler Pizzico

The “Midnight Run” service opportunity has been replaced with a trip to Camden.

Seniors no longer have the Midnight Run trip to New York City as a service opportunity. Instead, students can participate in a similar experience at Joseph’s House in Camden, New Jersey.

Midnight Run has been a service tradition for all seniors at Malvern Prep for over 20 years, according to Director of Christian Service Mr. Larry Legner. Malvern used to drive vans to Manhattan and hand out warm clothes and food to New York City’s homeless.

Legner and Mr. Tom McGuire, who often drove a van on Midnight Run, unanimously decided the big reasons for the change to Camden were a few inexcusable risks and expenses.

“I’m really getting afraid of driving home that late at night because I’m older now than I was fifteen years ago and I’m frankly afraid of falling asleep,” said Legner.

“I was going to come to you and say the same thing,” reported McGuire.

On top of the unnecessary risk is the cost. The tolls on the turnpike have gone up. The toll for one way to Manhattan has increased to over sixty dollars a van. With this added expense, the cost for renting the van, gas, and all the clothes and food was just getting too expensive, according to Legner.

The new service trip to Camden “poses the same basic mission for students without the risk,” said McGuire.

This destination for the new trip to Camden, New Jersey is Joseph’s House, a facility associated with the Romero Center where juniors participate in Urban Challenge. Joseph’s House houses about 85 people and adheres to strict rules to ensure the safety of each individual, Legner reported.

Each homeless person must be pre-approved and receive a card through an interview process. Another step to maximize safety are the seven full-time employees, some of which are security guards.

Joseph’s House has five main rules as a code: No drinking, no drugs, no fighting, no weapons, and no foul language. The doors open at 8:30 at night and the guests do not leave the premises until 9 in the morning, Legner reports.

Over Thanksgiving break, Malvern seniors took their first trip to Joseph House, for which they prepared a meal of spaghetti and meatballs. The men and women who came to Joseph House were served food and engaged in meaningful conversation with the Malvern students.

Guests were grateful and thanked the students and staff numerous times.

McGuire described a personal connection that he and Matthew Lanetti ‘15 experienced.

A man seemed to have isolated himself from the group, so McGuire and Lanetti went over to sit with him. He seemed depressed. Lanetti explained that the students made the pasta from scratch. The man’s eyes lit up as he described his previous job as an accomplished chef.

The man explained that he lost his job because it was about twenty miles from Camden, and he had to take a bus to work each morning. The way the bus schedule worked out, he wouldn’t get home until early the next morning and he couldn’t operate on the minimal sleep.

He talked at length about his experiences. The experience reaffirmed for McGuire that the homeless community benefits from Malvern’s service, but those benefits are returned back to those who serve in a deep and meaningful way.

The new trip to Camden trip will overall encompass the same goals of service for the Malvern seniors. However, this trip also encourages sitting down, talking with the men and women about their experiences, being open and honest, and hopefully making a connection such as Matt and Mr. McGuire did.

Mr. Legner has set up another upcoming visit to the Joseph’s House over the winter break.