Joseph Jordan Berenis

Beloved to everyone who crossed his path, Joseph Jordan Berenis, 75, of Rhinebeck, NY, passed away on Sunday, October 3, 2021, at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, NY, from a sudden brain hemorrhage.


Born on July 28th, 1946, in Brooklyn, NY, Joe was the son of the late Walter and Rose (Siggilino) Berenis. He married his soulmate, Karen Jordan on May 4, 1991, in Woodstock, NY.


Joe graduated with a degree in marine engineering from New York State Maritime College. He lived in Haight Ashbury, San Francisco, Greenwich Village, New York, and then moved up to Woodstock. Always a charismatic leader and free thinker, he was involved in the peace movement, alternative community-building and counterculture spaces, and ultimately turned his back on engineering. After the 1969 Woodstock festival, Joe found what would be more accurately described as a passion rather than a career, serving the most vulnerable members of society. He joined Family of Woodstock in 1980, serving as a counselor, Program Director, and Executive Director, working with homeless and at-risk youth and young adults for nearly 30 years.


When he left Family, Joe and Karen relocated to Sarasota, FL, and then Santa Fe, NM, where he served troubled youth as a high school substitute teacher and continued working on his personal memoir. After not too long, the Interfaith Community Shelter, known locally as "Pete's Place" in Santa Fe, hired him as Executive Director. There, he served individuals experiencing homelessness with compassion and respect for seven years. His innovative approach to programming, services, and community relations has become a model for agencies worldwide. When he retired this spring, the mayor of Santa Fe declared April 30, 2021 "Joseph Jordan Berenis Day" to honor his enduring service to the homeless community.


When asked how he manages the disappointments that often arise when serving individuals in crisis, Joe replied, "I have hope for people. We never know what is going to stick with somebody – we just keep trying. I always perceived my job as, 'If you fall down, we will pick you up.'"


Joe was a spiritual practitioner with deep convictions, integrating traditional Catholic customs of his Italian heritage with Zen Buddhism and other forms of spiritual discipline. His unwavering beliefs and practices, he said, enabled him to stay centered in his commitment to social services and systemic changemaking.


He is survived by his loving and bereft family: his spouse, Karen Jordan of Rhinebeck, NY; his stepdaughter and son-in-law, Abrah and Keith Zaltzberg-Drezdahl (and grandchild on the way) of High Falls, NY; his brother, Robert Berenis of Saratoga Springs, NY, along with extended family, numerous friends, and colleagues.


At 4pm EDT on Tuesday, November 2, at St. Gregory's Episcopal Church in Woodstock, NY, there will be a Memorial Service (hybrid in-person and virtual options).


Please RSVP Here for the Memorial Service (for in-person or virtual attendance)

ZOOM information is below:

Meeting ID: 832 3138 9906
Passcode: joseph
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Donations may be made in Joseph's memory to support with medical expenses at: