The Big Issue reports on how Jon Bon Jovi and his wife Dorothea Hurley co-founded the JBJ Soul Kitchen. There are no prices on the menu, instead using a pay-it-forward model that means customers who can afford to pay more cover the cost of others who are struggling to feed themselves.
The kitchen is just one of many projects from Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Foundation which has provided affordable housing to thousands of people across the US.
Jon said the idea to start the foundation hit him “like a lightning bolt” after he saw someone sleeping rough.
“One night I was looking out a hotel window in Philadelphia and I saw a guy sleeping on a grate. And I said: ‘That’s not what our forefathers were thinking when they created this America that they dreamt of’,” he said.
“And I thought, I know the issue – homelessness. Doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, young, old, Republican, Democrat. I don’t need a scientist to find the cure, and I can make a difference. It hit me like a lightning bolt.”
Since that day the kitchen has grown into a bigger part of his life with the help, guidance and hard work of his wife Dorothea and experts in the field.
“Home brings the ability to exhale,” he said, writing in The Big Issue. “Having a roof over your head is the greatest relief. I can’t imagine not having sanctuary to be warm in the cold and comforted in the rain.
“You’ve got to put a roof over someone’s head and then you’ve got to give them the ability to provide so they can keep it over their head. You can’t just give the man a home and go, good luck. Because next month there’s a lighting bill coming.
“Now that I think about it, we don’t give anyone anything; they earn it. We don’t give, this isn’t a contest. These people have gone to great lengths to get back on their feet, to achieve this level of success where they could get that roof over their head. None of this was given to any of them, they worked for it.”
The three kitchens have become beating hearts in New Jersey communities, connecting marginalised people with services to support their housing or health needs – all while keeping them well fed. Dorothea explains more about how they’re serving up hope.