In 2011, Jon Bon Jovi and his wife of 31 years Dorothea, opened up the restaurant Soul Kitchen in his home state of New Jersey with one sole purpose.
To feed those that would otherwise be hungry.
“One in six people in America are suffering at night and going to bed hungry, and one in five families live at or below the poverty line,” he said at the time.
The motto is:
All are welcome at our table where organic, locally-sourced ingredients, dignity and respect are always on the menu.
There are no prices on the menus and customers pay on a donation basis only.
For those that can’t pay, if they’re disabled, elderly or a family with children, it’s free.
Otherwise you volunteer to work an hour in the kitchen either learning to cook whilst being taught, washing dishes or tending the eateries large vegetable and flower garden.
The restaurant also offers a cooking school so those that are interested can learn the art and a trade, a food bank that distributes food to the local homeless, nurses that provide healthcare, social workers that operate a vocational training center, accountants offering free tax prep and teachers that offer after-school activities for at-risk children.
Said Head Chef Mario Batali, “Everybody feels like part of a community. This is something that serves to feed not only somebody’s belly, but their dignity, their mind, their happiness”.
The restaurants are but one venture amongst many projects run by The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, a charity that aims to “break the cycle of hunger, poverty, and homelessness.”
Rebuilding pride in one's self and one's community - one SOUL at a time.
Which includes housing many hundreds of once homeless families in ten states.
And a permanent Shelter called Joseph’s House, in Camden, N.J.
Located at 555 Atlantic Avenue and operating year round, seven nights a week, Joseph’s House of Camden is a homeless facility committed meet the immediate, essential needs of its guests as well as their long term needs for pathways out of chronic homelessness. They work collaboratively with others to aid the homeless men and women of Camden by offering a continuum of services including emergency shelter, food, access to addiction services, mental and physical health as well as on-site access to the Camden County Board of Social Services. The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation partnered with several organizations to help provide funding to help open Joseph’s House in its current location.
Joseph’s House remains committed to meeting both the immediate and long term needs of guests who seek services at their doors,
What is not covered by donations are paid for by a family with a net worth of about $400 million.
A year after the opening, Hurricane Sandy hit Jersey hard, and another Soul Kitchen was opened in late 2012.
The third was embraced by Rutgers University who shocked Dorothea by telling her that many kids on campus who are on grants and scholarship are food insecure.
At the launch of all three were his good friends Bill Clinton, who he first met in 1992, and Bono.
It was his friendship with Bill that propelled him into politics....he stumped and played for Obama in 2012 and for Hillary in 2016.
Which brings us to today.
Living with the pandemic.
The picture in the header was taken by a random Facebook user, Garry Conley, who had this to say…
“I have a confession to make. I would not know Jon Bon Jovi if he walked in this building. I cannot name a single song he has ever recorded. It's not that I don't like him or his music, I have just never really been exposed to it. This superstar is washing dishes at one of his JBJ Soul Kitchen restaurants that feed the homeless. They're still cooking. Still making food for those in need during these uncertain times. And instead of disappearing to wait out the pandemic in a fancy penthouse somewhere, Jon Bon Jovi is showing up to be a dishwasher.
Now THAT's what it means to be a rock star."
Two of the restaurants are open for business with this announcement...
Effectively immediately, JBJ Soul Kitchen Red Bank & Toms River locations will be OPEN FOR TAKE-OUT for our IN-NEED COMMUNITY ONLY. See revised hours of operation below. Due to food demand, the menu will be limited.
If you are struggling to feed yourself or your family, we are a resource to you.
Stay healthy and safe!
No volunteering is necessary and in fact at this time is not allowed.
Just take the food back to your home and be nourished.
And then come back again tomorrow.
Normally, i post diaries about everyday folk doing beautiful, kind and/or heroic deeds…
...in this case i wanted you to know about a man who is grateful to be able to give back.
I would be remiss if i didn’t include a verse from one of his songs…
‘We’re halfway there…
We’re living on a prayer…
Take my hand and we’ll make it, i swear...’
And there you go.