MILWAUKEE - A champion for Milwaukee, Pastor Jerome Smith was remembered Friday, May 7 after losing his fight with COVID-19. He died at the age of 49 on April 27.
Smith co-founded the Joseph Project with U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson's office.
"This has been rough and tough for us," said Orlando Owens, a Joseph Project volunteer. "We will miss him but we will do the work in his memory."
The program has provided job opportunities and transportation to hundreds facing obstacles, many of whom were incarcerated.
"One of the sayings I always remember is you don’t throw away people," Owens said.
"He was the heart and soul of this program. He would, he saw this as his legacy to the world," said Scott Bolstad with Sen. Johnson's office.
Smith came from poverty, overcame mental illness and survived – becoming pastor of Greater Praise Church of God in Christ on Milwaukee's north side. He will be remembered forever by those he helped.
"His passing of course was a surprise," said Michael Ewing, who received help from Joseph Project. "When a person impacts your life that much, and then you find out that the person passed away, you want to come out and pay your respects.
"I’m forever grateful."
Pastor Jerome Smith
Now, the pastor's work continues. A building across the street from his church was being renovated to become the new home for the Joseph Project. Now, that work continues.
"The need continues to exist. And so, that foundation that pastor left is awesome because it allows us to keep moving forward," said Constance Alberts with the Joseph Project.
A ceremony was held Friday at Smith's church. He leaves behind a wife, three children and grandchildren – still in shock that he is gone after a swift battle with COVID-19.