Schools and communities working together in Camden

This past weekend, members of the Camden Education Association (CEA) convened at the Brimm Medical Arts High School to work with community leaders as they organized services to assist local pet owners. The event, known as Brimm’s Chowhound House, attracted more than 200 attendees throughout the day. Brimm’s Chowhound House provided wellness visits for pets and pet food for all pet owners in attendance. CEA members, community leaders and students volunteered their time to help make the event a success.

Local organizations pitched in to ensure the communities’ pets were treated well. The Chowhound House, “a food bank for domestic animals,” donated food and treats for pet owners who attended. In addition to food the House Paws Mobile Veterinary Service, a mobile vet service that serves primarily Southern New Jersey, provided more than 60 dogs and cats with free wellness visits, which included important vaccinations. The dogs and cats deemed healthy enough, will receive free spay and neutering services from the mobile vet.  Students helped pet owners navigate their way through the Chowhound House.

Brimm’s Chowhound House was not a stand-alone event. Members of the CEA have been working with community leaders since late last spring to establish Community Schools. Community Schools are designed to tap into the passion and energy of the school community. Members of CEA sought out community members for their input on what the community needed most. Brimm’s Chowhound House was the first event in a series of events designed to meet the needs of the community members.

“When you look around the community [Camden, NJ], one of the most important things that can go unnoticed is the pet population. We saw that this was a really big need and we wanted to have an impact on the community in a really powerful way” said Richard Abram, a math teacher at Brimm and CEA member. “This event is like the Brimm Medical Arts High School – it’s one of the best kept secrets in Camden.” Abram shared that events like Brimm’s Chowhound House involve the community in the school’s everyday happenings.

Kevin Ruiz-Berroa and Jamil Miller, the president and vice president, respectively, of the Chow Hound House, graduated from Brimm Medical Arts High School in 2012 and say they founded their business after they noticed a need to change perceptions about their community. “You see the community here. There is nothing dangerous. There is nothing deadly. This is a community event, and it’s important for the people of Camden to feel like this is a community, not just a poor city” said Ruiz-Berroa. “Our other goal is help. Help for the pets. Help for the pet owners. If these dogs end up on the streets, they will end up in a shelter with a high chance of being euthanized.”

This event is the first in a series of events the CEA plans to hold in conjunction with community leaders around the city of Camden as part of their Community Schools Initiative.

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