CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — A Code Blue has been in effect in Camden for three weeks now, and the power of one Camden woman is proving a difference can be made in the lives of those less fortunate.
“Once I have my mind made up, I just want to serve at the end of the day, like this is a true ministry,” Tawanda Jones said.READ MORE: Some Philadelphia Students Set To Return To Classroom Monday For First Time In Nearly A Year
Jones has been serving for three weeks straight. Her community in Camden refers to her as “Miss Wawa.” She helped organized Camden’s only 24-hour warming center.
“It’s not fair to kick people out at 6 o’clock, 7 o’clock in the morning when it’s still cold,” she said. “So, they would have to walk around all day until it’s time to go back to the shelter.”
Miss Wawa is a married mother of four but has been sleeping at the shelter with her residents for the last three weeks. What started as a way to help people who are homeless stay warm has turned into her life’s mission.
“They are not all addicts and even if they were, so what,” she said. “You still need a place, you still need shelter, food, just to be warm, just to feel safe.”READ MORE: Philly Police Identify Suspect, Edward Prince, Wanted In Fatal Hit-And-Run That Dragged 60-Year-Old Feet Nearly 300 Feet
Since Camden went into a Code Blue three weeks ago, Miss Wawa has asked for help via Facebook and people have delivered. All of the clothes, blankets and food are donated.
This is the second time Miss Wawa has operated a warming center. The last time was three years ago, but this time, she’s being recognized by the governor. She was recognized during New Jersey’s fourth annual Black History Month awards ceremony.
Gov. Phil Murphy said it was not only for her work at the warming center but also for her work mentoring thousands of Camden youth since she was a teenager herself.
“Tawanda is further regarded for her unyielding compassion and empathy for those in need,” Murphy said.
Eighty-four people have sought warmth at the center, but they’re getting much more. Miss Wawa says 10 have gone to detox while four have landed jobs and one found permanent housing.MORE NEWS: Police Investigating ATM Robbery At Northeast Philadelphia Convenience Store
“This is a matter of three weeks. People are getting paid the big bucks to do what we’re doing, and I just want to see them transition and live a normal life,” Jones said. “They don’t want to be on the street.”