by Ed Rumley
PATERSON — In the dim shadows cast by city streetlights, a group of suburbanites gathered on a 4th Ward street corner on Monday night and waited for people from the neighborhood to come to them.
Their location, Auburn Street, is a popular destination for out-of-towners who travel to Paterson to buy drugs, according to police.
But that wasn’t this group’s purpose. They were members of a Hawthorne church’s outreach ministry and they came to Paterson to distribute chili – and hope – in sub-freezing temperatures. They also handed out winter hats, scarves and gloves.
“God bless you guys,” said 42-year-old Chase Brito as the volunteers filled two cups of chili for him. “I really appreciate this,” Brito added as he walked away. “These guys have no attitudes. People out here are in great need. They are desperate. They are dying. I’m addicted to heroin and crack.”
The group from Hawthorne Gospel Church’s Desire4Hope Ministries has been coming to Paterson since the fall of 2014. They started their outreach at some tents where homeless people were living beneath a Route 80 overpass, according to 36-year-old Tim Stanley, the group’s founder. When authorities knocked down the makeshift village, the outreach work shifted to Costello Park. About two months ago, the group moved to a new spot at the notorious corner of Auburn and Broadway. It’s an area where there are plenty of people in need.
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