It started in a Catholic education class at St. Joseph’s Parish in Downingtown.
In Feb. 1995, Joan McCrea was teaching a CCD class. She kept hearing something from her teenage students. Many of them had parents who were unemployed. And their families were suffering because of it.
She realized something important. Many families within St. Joseph’s Parish weren’t having their needs met by existing parish ministries. With the support of the church’s priest Monsignor Robert T. McManus, Joan teamed up with Cheryl Spaulding to establish a ministry to help the unemployed and underemployed.
Just three months later, Joseph’s People started receiving requests for assistance from other Catholic parishes, Protestant churches, and those without any religious affiliation. Soon, it was clear that the needs went far beyond St. Joseph’s Parish.
Since then Joseph’s People has grown to chapters in five counties in the Philadelphia area and one chapter in Pittsburgh. Joseph’s People has assisted more than 5,000 people since the organization was established.
The work and programs in Joseph’s People have become well-known locally, nationally and internationally. The group has been featured in many publications including The Philadelphia Inquirer, Sojourners and the celebrated French newspaper La Monde.
Employment trends have changed over the years, but the needs remain the same. We believe that work is important to one’s dignity. A job is more than a paycheck. It’s a way to support one’s family, it’s a chance to life out gifts and talents God gives all of us, and working contributes to society and the overall economy.
Some Joseph’s People volunteers have said that one day they hope to go out of business. They look forward to a time when anyone who wants a suitable job with a living wage can find one. But until then, Joseph’s People remains committed to serving the unemployed and underemployed.
Joan I. McCrea
The Heart of Joseph’s People
1934 – 2016