I was deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Joe Jordan-Berenis, and I pray for him, his family and his many friends. I worked with Joe at Pete’s Place Interfaith Community Shelter from 2016-19 as a clinical mental health counselor and supervisor, running the Life Link Outreach program at the shelter during those years.

Joe’s office was down at the end of the hall across from a room that sometimes was an art room, at other times a choral theater, sometimes a bunkhouse, a meditation room, yoga studio or even a makeshift hospital. The shelter was and is a vibrant place, and I spoke with Joe pretty much every day; he would come by to chat about something, or I would go visit him about some pressing need, which often was not as pressing as the needs of the line of people at his door, people coming to see him for any problem under the sun. They wanted guidance or a shoulder to cry on; or they needed money; or they had family trouble or legal trouble; they needed a job or protection; or a car, clothes, a tent or a hug.

Although it would have been a privilege to have Joe as my boss, by happenstance we had somewhat parallel roles; yet it was only from modesty that he treated me as a genuine partner during my time there. I felt uplifted by that elevation, a position I hadn’t quite earned, given Joe’s extensive accomplishments in New York starting right after Woodstock, building from scratch over many years a still-thriving agency, a sort of combination Pete’s Place and Life Link. I just felt fortunate to see him in his element: not just among a throng of guests, but in a very well-organized office running a complex social-service machine, with a large meeting table that often held stacks of grant proposals and other projects that kept the shelter thriving and growing behind the scenes.

Mark Voss, LPCC, is a former co-worker of Joe Jordan-Berenis who now lives in Germany.

Popular in the Community