Three Camden residents recognized for their community service

A man who founded a nonprofit to help minority students further their education. A great-grandfather walks Town Watch in one of Camden’s toughest neighborhoods. And a nun who annually honors Camden’s homicide victims.

These three Camden City residents will be among 13 Camden County residents honored  tonight with at a county Freedom Medal ceremony. The award was established in 2011 to recognize civic leaders who demonstrate the ideals of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Atnre Alleyne, along with his wife, Tatiana, co-founded Teen SHARP (Successful in High-Achieving and Reaching their Potential). The program,  designed for minorities ages 10 through 17 in Philadelphia and South Jersey, offers academic guidance, college assistance and summer preparation.  The idea is to “increase college awareness and student leadership,” said Alleyne, 27, who has lived in Camden’s Cooper Plaza neighborhood since attending Rutgers-Camden for his master’s degree in public administration and political science in 2007. Since Teen SHARP’s inception in 2009, Mr. Alleyne has raised almost $15,000 to take students on tours of colleges from New York to Washington, DC.                      

Roger W. Barker and his wife, Jessie, have lived in Liberty Park for 50 years. While the couple raised their five children, Barker started volunteering with youth sports teams and community watch groups. He has never stopped, continuing even patrolling his neighborhood (not one of Camden’s safest) as part of the Town Watch. “I’ve told him he should stop that,” his wife said. But Barker, 88, a retired truck driver, insists on helping in whatever way he can. Barker, who now has three generations to watch over, is a grandparent volunteer at Charles Sumner School and the Centerville Simbas Football Association. He is also a liaison for the Liberty Park Neighborhood Association.

Sister Helen Cole has been an advocate for crime victims and their families since helping create the Guadalupe Family Services in North Camden in 1995. She accompanies grieving mothers and widows to court for murder trials. Through the Guadalupe center, which is located in an area known for open drug markets, she offers  medical, legal and social services to Camden residents. Sister Cole, 53, is also behind an annual candlelight vigil to remember Camden's homicide victims.

The Freedom Medal ceremony is scheduled for 6 tonight at the Camden County Boathouse in Pennsauken.