October 01, 2023
For two decades and counting, IBEW Local 98 has steadfastly answered the prayers of Pastor Buddy Osborn and Rock Ministries, the beacon of hope he founded in the heart of drug-ravaged Kensington (2755 Kensington Avenue).
Rock Ministries, or “The Rock” as it’s more commonly known, was Buddy Osborn’s faith-inspired lifeline to the poor, homeless and drug-addicted residents of Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood, widely regarded as the heroin capital of the East Coast. Founded in 2003, Rock Ministries offers neighborhood youth a path out of poverty, addiction and despair. A former boxer, Buddy teaches young men and women the sweet science of pugilism and, in return, asks only that they attend two weekly Bible classes held at The Rock. More than 18,000 young people have come through its doors over the past 20 years - for food, shelter and recovery.
The foundation of The Rock is Buddy’s deep, abiding Christian faith and his unshakable belief in the power of redemption. That belief is best captured in the biblical passage from Proverbs 22:6. “Train a child in the way he should go. And when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Buddy believes prevention is the key to saving the youth of Kensington from what he describes as a “battle zone” of 72 open-air drug markets all within a two block radius of The Rock. As he’s fond of saying, “They deal dope, I deal hope.”
Our dear friend Buddy Osborn has also served as the Chaplain of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council for the past 13 years. Through that partnership, Buddy has been able to help several young “graduates” of Rock Ministries enter into promising careers with Building Trades unions, including IBEW Local 98, Cement Masons Local 592, Operating Engineers Local 542, Roofers Local 30 and others. Not one to rest on his laurels, Buddy will soon begin refurbishing Philadelphia’s oldest boxing arena, The Cambria, which the non-profit Rock Ministries recently purchased and is conveniently located behind The Rock. The Daniel J. Keating Company and the Building Trades will soon commence rehab work on the 107-year old boxing arena, which Buddy plans to convert into a multi-sport recreation center for kids to be renamed the “Youth Factory.” Buddy is relying on government grants and private donations to underwrite the costs of the conversion. To learn how you can help, go to www.therockphilly.org.
One final thought on our friend Buddy Osborn. Bruce Springsteen once famously sang “It’s so hard to be a saint in the city.”
Clearly, Bruce Springsteen never met Buddy Osborn.