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Ending the Cycle of Poverty

An executive director at a Camden, N.J., homeless day shelter, Kevin Moran ’01 (back row, left) found his interest in social services while studying at Scranton.

Shelter Director Found Desire to Serve as Scranton Undergraduate

People like John are the reason Kevin Moran ’01 gets out of bed each day. 

Moran, executive director of the New Visions Homeless Day Shelter in Camden, N.J., first met John a few years ago.

He, like many others enduring difficult circumstances, used the shelter’s basic services – facilities for showering and laundry, food for breakfast and lunch, and available clothing.

“We provide the social services to help get guests in the door,” said Moran of the New Visions Day Shelter. “Our main goal is to build relationships, complete needs assessments, and then find out what their goals are, all while trying to end a person’s cycle of poverty.”

John’s story is one of their most heartwarming cases. 

After taking aid from the shelter, he shared his love of cooking and preparing food. John then began volunteering in the shelter’s kitchen, which led to an interview, acceptance and eventual graduation from the Cathedral Kitchen culinary arts program. Less than two years after being homeless and hungry, he accepted a position with the Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen in Sacramento, Calif., and reunited with his estranged father.

“John went from severe drug and alcohol addiction, and being without a home, to full-time employment and self-reliance,” Moran explains. “That’s a tremendous accomplishment in such a short period of time.”

Making an impact is why Moran has dedicated his career to service. However, this desire wasn’t fully established until he enrolled at Scranton in 1997.

Following in his older brother’s footsteps – Matthew Moran ’99 – Kevin came to Scranton enticed by his sibling’s experiences in Collegiate Volunteers programs, as well as service trips domestic and abroad. Hearing about his brother’s endeavors planted the seed for his own volunteer work, often led by Patricia Vaccaro, director of the Center for Service & Social Justice at Scranton.

“She has an extremely contagious, energetic way about her that just exudes a yearning to make you want to pitch in and help with whatever projects she’s working on,” Matthew Moran says of Vaccaro. “She was a big influence on my brother and me.”

Kevin Moran’s volunteer and service experiences eventually shifted his career path from elementary education – his major at Scranton – to social work, ultimately leading him to Camden.

“Even though he’s my little brother, I have always, and will always, look up to him,” says Matthew Moran. “He helps me want to be a better person because of how he carries himself and what he does every single day.”

To repay the support he received from the Scranton community, Kevin Moran feels it’s necessary to share his story with current students. In 2012, he ventured back to campus to participate in the University’s “Beyond the Commons” dinner program to discuss careers in the nonprofit sector.

“It’s important for students to hear testimonials from alumni that have gone through Scranton having such a positive experience,” he says. “Scranton was the foundation that allowed me to put my faith in action in ways I never expected.”

That faith has allowed Moran to have a career that’s both personally satisfying and a reminder that everyone encounters struggles, victories, successes and failures in life. 

“I’m blessed and humbled to know that we’re all one paycheck away from being in the same situation as those at our center,” he says. “We’re really no different than they are. My job has given me the opportunity to recognize each guest as my brother and as my sister, treating them with the dignity, love and compassion that they deserve.” 

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