One of the ones fighting the good fight in Camden

Despite the bleak Camden statistics mentioned in my Sunday article on the city’s spiraling poverty, some city residents continue to work in the city and send their kids to city schools -- people like firefighter Andy Delgado and teacher Keith Benson, both of whom I featured in my article.

Because of the space constraints, Delgado and Benson each received only a few lines in the newspaper to share their passion about the city and trying to make it better.

Benson, who purchased a home on one of the city’s most stable streets in Parkside, sends his 9-year-old daughter to Cooper's Poynt School in North Camden. He likes what he sees there, and she seems to be excelling.

“It has a lot to do with the house she walks into every day,” Benson told me. “Both her parents have master’s degrees and care about her education.”

Because not every child in Camden is as fortunate to have dedicated, educated parents, Benson believes Camden’s schools need to offer more social from within. Schools also should do more to reach out to families, many of whom are struggling, Benson said.

Although many people in my article commented on the violence in the city, Benson’s No. 1 complaint was the lack of jobs for city residents in the city.

“It seems like the financial situation has gotten way worse because no one is hiring,” Benson said. “There are no jobs for people to aspire to.”

Benson, like Delgado, also complained about money invested in the waterfront.

“If you live on Chase Street, rebuilding the waterfront does nothing for your life,” he said.

Though it’s an uphill battle with the city and sometimes the school board, Benson says he is sticking it out. He is also continuing to coach basketball at both high schools as another way to reach out to the city's youth.

“I’m optimistic. I have no reason to leave,” he said in December when I first interviewed him and again after my article ran. The city needs more vocal, engaged, and politically savvy residents, he says. 

If he left, it would be after he was certain that “I've given this city all of my energy and vigor ... I’ve done all I can do to make our city a little better.”

He’s in for the good fight.