Christopher Warren moved to Moorestown with his family in 1992. Having grown up in Cherry Hill, he was familiar with the area, but it was after the move that he became more attuned to the disparity between Moorestown and the city of Camden just down the road.
“I feel very fortunate and blessed to live in a wonderful town like Moorestown, and yet just a few miles down Route 38 there’s the city of Camden, which has, for years, been challenged economically,” Warren said. “I wanted to try and achieve some kind of balance.”
At the urging of former mayor of Camden Randy Primus and Brenda Bacon, president and CEO of Brandywine Living, Warren got involved with the Boys & Girls Club of Camden County 15 years ago. Recently, he was recognized with the organization’s “Citizens Champion” award for his long-term involvement and leadership within the club.
The Boys & Girls Club provides after-school programs for local youth. When Warren first joined the board, in its simplest terms, his role was to learn more about the challenges children in Camden were facing.
“Until you have that understanding, that appreciation of [their challenges] it’s hard to know where to focus your energies,” Warren said.
After immersing himself in learning more, Warren took action. Warren has volunteered with the organization in a variety of capacities over the years. He served as treasurer, and he continues to help raise money and manage the finances.
“Over the years, it’s given me the opportunity to improve the lives of children by providing them with a safe haven in the after-school hours when they are very vulnerable to the dangers of living in the city of Camden,” Warren said.
At times, the work frustrated him, and he questioned whether the club was making an impact. He said these doubts quickly dissipated when he saw the children who were coming to a place where they felt safe and hopeful, and he was quickly reminded why the work they are doing is so important.
Warren said, over time, he has seen the efforts of the Boys & Girls Club paying off. He said Camden has gradually and steadily improved graduation and unemployment rates. The club has seen a “significant and noticeable improvement” in quality of life for Camden residents, and in his eyes, organizations like the Boys & Girls club have been part of that impact.
“The Boy & Girls Club really focuses on those after-school hours when the children in an inner city environment are so vulnerable to dangerous and even life-threatening distractions,” Warren said.
Looking back on his 15 years with the organization, he’s most proud of the children who have gone through the club, grown up and now come back as staff members. He said these leaders are a true reflection of what they got out of the club experience.
Today, Warren’s primary goal as a board member is to raise funds to expand and improve the programming they deliver. He said this includes college preparation, homework help and a variety of other initiatives.
Bernadette Shanahan, chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Camden County, said she appreciates Warren’s analytical mind. She said his work on the finance committee has helped the organization to get on the right financial path.
“He’s not afraid to ask questions – sometimes hard questions,” Shanahan said. “When he makes a commitment, he really follows through.”
Shanahan said in the 15 years Warren has volunteered, he’s been an advocate for the club in more ways than one and has helped ensure the financial resources to stick around “for quite a while.”
Warren said he was flattered and humbled to find out he was selected as “Citizens Champion,” but more than anything, he’s looking to turn the attention back to the club.
“The children of Camden are our No. 1 priority, and I was hopeful that this recognition would just bring more attention to the club,” Warren said.
To find out more about the Boys & Girls Club of Camden County, visit https://begreatcamden.org.