By Alex Orlando
CCC Journalism Program

BLACKWOOD – Karen Kates is a goal-oriented person who has accomplished much in her life. She is an influential person, not only here in South Jersey, but also in Jamaica.

Kates grew up in Haddonfield, N.J., and has spent her entire life in South Jersey. She went to Haddonfield Memorial High School. There she found great success with her grades and later went on to attend Rutgers University in New Brunswick, where she majored in early childhood education, earning a bachelor of science degree.

During her time in college, she always had an interest in mission work. She said, “It was always a small passion of mine, to help those in need.”

She was also involved in the community. She was active in church activities and helped them in any way possible.

Kates later got married, had three children and started to form a life with her family. She was a teacher at Beechwood in Haddonfield.

When her husband’s family’s hardware store closed, she entered a career in the medical field because she had to find a decent-paying job to help her husband support her family.

Her husband, Jesse, said, “I was so proud of her. She never gave up and she did what she had to do to make it work. She never let her head stay down.”

She received a job at Cooper Hospital in Camden, N.J. While working at Cooper Hospital, she trained in medical office management to become an office manager. That job led to meeting a doctor who did missionary work.

He opened a world for her by showing her the organization called Missionaries of the Poor. This is a group who travels all over the world, helping those in need of help. By going to Kingston, Jamaica, she realized her lifelong dream of going on a mission trip to help those in need.

Over the last 13 years, she has gone to Jamaica to help those in need once, sometimes twice a year. After many trips, she became the trip coordinator, organizing volunteers from all over the world to work in the shelters of Jamaica. She has
influenced many people to join Missionaries of the Poor. This is her passion in life.

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