Joe and Dee's Story

In 1978 Papa Joe Delio, his wife Dee and a couple other Christians from local Churches founded Cornerstone Outreach Ministries in Swanzey, NH.  This parent organization spawned the creation of Cornerstone Motorcycle Ministry which is now represented in all of New England, New York and New Jersey.  There have been many ups and downs in the ministry since that time but one thing has held true throughoug the test of time, God's Word is faithful to supply where there is a need.  Cornerstone was in need of men and women to help sustain and work for Christ in this ministry and as God is faithful He has sent many laborers into the harvest field.  With Charters curently in New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont; many men and women have answered the call to continue this couples legacy of bringing the love of Jesus to the Biker community.  
 
    -  Cornerstone Outreach Ministries, Inc.
 
 
In a recent article in the Keene Sentinel, Ted Moe was moved to write down something his friend Joe Delio said to him recently: “I feel like sometimes I’m fighting to breathe and sometimes I’m breathing to fight.”

Joe has multiple sclerosis, which has paralyzed his body inch by inch over the last 25 years. He is now mostly immobile — he has use of his left hand — and has a tracheotomy, which helps him breathe through a hole in his neck, attached to a ventilator. To speak, the air hose needs to be moved away from the tube in his neck and Joe has to plug the hole with his finger. Joe is also struggling with his failing kidneys and receives dialysis three times a week.

Ted is in awe of Joe — his spirit, his generosity and his fight to survive.

“I marvel at what he goes through,” Ted says. “I’m not sure I’d go through it.”

Ted and Joe have known each other since 1973, when Joe moved to Swanzey and started coming into the town post office, where Ted was the postmaster. The first glimpse Ted had of Joe was a biker, all in black, riding a big black Harley-Davidson motorcycle, with a long black beard and his head covered in a do-rag.

“The word was out that there was this biker guy living in town,” Ted says. “But I knew right away that he wasn’t a bad guy.”

Ted says the two would see one another out and about in town and got to know each other pretty well. “I like him because he is what he is. He doesn’t make believe he is someone he is not,” Ted says.

Today, Ted stops in to see Joe every week.

On a recent day, Joe greets visitors from his hospital bed at his home in Swanzey with a warm smile. The room has a wood stove and two large windows looking out on the yard. Hanging beside the bed, all in a row, are photos of Joe and his wife, Dee’s, four children and nine grandchildren.

Joe has a long, white, Santa-like beard, a balding head and large light brown eyes. When asked how old his is, he lifts his finger and covers his trach tube and says, “54.” Dee says, “Joe, you are 64.” He smiles.

Beauty, a 7-year-old golden retriever, trots in and out of the room with a chew bone in her mouth. She sleeps on a bed near Joe and howls loudly when visitors come to the door. Mostly, she sidles up next to people who visit, hoping for a scratch behind the ear.

Someone stops by to shovel the few inches of snow that have fallen overnight from the deck and to clear a walkway. One of Joe’s aides is in the kitchen, making lunch.

It’s busy in the Delio household, but quiet for the most part. Joe naps on and off throughout the day. Dee is with him almost constantly. The motor from the ventilator is the soundtrack in the room.

Many people know Joe as Papa Joe, because of his work as the force behind Cornerstone Outreach Ministries Inc., a group he founded in 1978. Cornerstone sets up “The Tent” each summer on the side of Route 9 just outside of Keene, where bikers are invited to stop for a meal or coffee on their way to and from Bike Week in Laconia. Each visitor is invited to take with them a bag of cookies, donated by various churches. The group also holds the Blessing of the Bikes ceremony at the Cathedral of the Pines in Rindge each year.

The first year the tent debuted, in 1978, it wasn’t a tent at all. It was Joe, sitting behind a folding table with 32 dozen homemade cookies to give to visitors. That year, 850 bikers stopped by to talk to Joe. The following year, a tent was donated and hot dogs accompanied the cookies. The tent now greets as many as 30,000 visitors in a week’s time. Food is available around the clock, free of charge, for anyone who stops by. There are members of the ministry available to talk to anyone about Christianity, but there is no pressure to do so. All of the food is donated and all of the people who work in the tent are volunteers.

Cornerstone Ministries started because of Joe and Dee’s conversion to Christianity in the late ’70s. Both had lived a wild sort of life, drinking and taking drugs and hanging out with the motorcycle groups that were on the wrong side of the law. The couple, who married in 1976, were both traveling back and forth to Nigeria, working in a shipping and receiving business for Dee’s father. During one visit home to Keene, Dee started going to church and was “saved.” She refers to her conversion as finding “rightness in chaos.” She wrote to Joe in Nigeria, telling him that she was devoted to Jesus and wanted to give him 10 percent of their income. She wrote about how happy and fulfilled she felt.

Joe, never suspecting a divine intervention, thought instead she had met a man named Jesus and was going to start giving their money to him. The money was actually a tithing, a gift to the church. Joe contacted friends of his to go and find out who this Jesus was.

When Joe came home to New Hampshire for a visit, he saw that Dee was a different woman and learned what really happened.

Dee was on fire with her beliefs, but Joe wasn’t as quick to join the ranks. At one point, he told her he did not want to hear one more word about Jesus Christ in his presence. She complied. Dee says, “Then, I got out of the way and God started working on him.” Eventually, Joe followed Dee’s lead and made his conversion to Christianity.

The couple finished working in Nigeria and both went to school and got master’s degrees; she in mental health and substance-abuse counseling, he in pastoral counseling. They both worked at alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers in the region. Joe has traveled to more than 65 prisons to preach, often bringing other bikers with him. Through their work and the work of the ministry, they’ve helped countless people through struggles.

Dee is one of three full-time caregivers for Joe. At night, she sleeps on a cot beside his bed. She takes him to Concord three times a week in their van for his dialysis treatments. She stopped working last year in part to devote her time to caring for Joe.

But Dee also has a challenging health history, having contracted a bacterial infection years ago that eventually rendered her disabled. Even so, she worked to learn to administer Joe’s dialysis in their home. New equipment is arriving at their home within the month and the couple will no longer have to make the trips to Concord each week, which are taxing on Joe, but also cost upwards of $75 per trip for gas alone.

Ted Moe wishes he could do more to help the couple.

“Their faith is huge,” he says. “I would love to be able to get them an unlimited credit card and tell them to just do what they needed to do with it.”

He says their devotion to one another was in full force last year on their anniversary.

Joe wanted to make a card for Dee and was in the hospital at the time. Ted brought him paper and markers but Joe wasn’t able to make the card; he didn’t have enough mobility in his arm and hand. Dee came in the room while he was struggling with it.

She said, “Why don’t we make it together?”
 
** Courtesy of an article written by Ted Moe and submitted in the Keene Sentinel January 3rd, 2012
 

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