New home, new hope for Camden, NJ boy

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

With cheers and the theme from "Rocky," they cut the ribbon on Jorge Cartegena's new home in Camden's Waterfront East section.

It was a nice turn for the boy caught in the crossfire between two drug dealers last June.

"We saw a nine-year-old little boy get shot in the face, fall to the ground and watched the drug dealer hurtle over top of him as if he were a piece of garbage and continue on with his mission of trying to exact vengeance on another individual," said Camden Police Chief John S. Thomson.

Jorge spent months in the hospital and woke up from a coma blind. He then went back to his grandmother's tiny apartment in dangerous East Camden.

"In the very beginning he was very down about it and was like, 'Why did God to this to me?'" said Father Michael Doyle of Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

But in December, Heart of Camden, a local organization, reached out to Jorge. Along with other groups, like Jon Bon Jovi's Soul Foundation and Sacred Heart Catholic Church, they raised almost $200,000 to buy and rehab an abandoned townhome with a great back yard for the family.

Sacred Heart and Camden leaders have also adopted Jorge. Police Chief John Thomson even became his godfather and started including him in family events.

The love has made Jorge once again a spirited, smiling kid.

"Thank y'all so much, I'm so grateful, and for all y'all have done, my house is bangin'," Jorge told the crowd gathered on Tuesday.

The Sacred Heart community also took in Mayor Dana Redd at age eight after she lost both her parents. She says they will continue to stand by Jorge.

"I remember the days of my youth," Redd told Action News. "Every year, they didn't just make a big deal one year, they were there twenty years later, forty years later."

The dream is that Jorge too will one day look back on how his lowest point led him to greater things.

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