Erial Native Helping Camden Kids
The founder of Steve's Club seeks community support with Saturday fundraiser.
Shortly after Steve Liberati graduated from the University of Delaware, he took a job with a bank.
It didn't take him long to realize the banking field wasn't where he wanted to spend the rest of his life.
The Erial native then went to work for his dad, who has now run his own exterminator business, Pest Professionals, for three decades.
Perhaps, those who knew him understandably thought, Liberati would take over the family business somewhere down the line.
While working for his father, the Gloucester Catholic High School graduate often found himself in Camden.
What he saw there surprised him.
What he saw there changed him.
There were children who loved to run, jump and play—just like he had 20, 25 years ago.
Unlike Liberati, these kids didn't have the safe streets of Erial to play sports and exercise. They didn't have a place to, well, be kids.
"Just like most people who don't go in there and have a first-hand experience, you have a lot of stereotypes, and what I thought Camden was like and the kids were like," he said. "A lot of the kids were great. Kind of like how I grew up. Really into sports, running around outside, and looking for things to do."
By the time he went to work for his dad, Liberati had dedicated himself to physical fitness—so much so that by June 2008 he had started his own adult training program, CrossFit Tribe.
It was in May 2007 that he decided to find a safe place to work with Camden's children—a place to keep them away from the drugs and gang violence that permeate just about every street in the city.
Liberati initially found the kids refuge in the community center at Centennial Village apartments, in North Camden.
"That's how it all started, and it just took off from there," he said.
Steve's Club sure has taken off, necessitating more than a few location changes in its brief history.
Last September, through his CrossFit connections, five local chapters joined Steve's Club National Program. Steve's Club is now working with at-risk and disadvantaged kids in King of Prussia, PA; Brooklyn; Tennessee and California, to name a few.
Now, Liberati, 32, is calling on the community to help him keep the Camden program going.
Steve's Club will host its fourth annual fundraiser in Pennsauken this Saturday. More than 100 supporters and disadvantaged and at-risk youth will compete in exciting team workouts while raising money for the cause.
The recommended donation is $25.
To find out more about Steve's Club, visit the nonprofit organization's website.