Gwen Williams keeps a watchful eye on the goings on at New Community Sussex Gardens. She’s the type of resident who knows her neighbors by name and stops to ask about the welfare of their loved ones.
Williams goes the extra mile.
“It’s in her heart. It’s who she is,” said Nakesha Dunn, who lives at Sussex Gardens with her four children. “She doesn’t even have to know you.”
A longtime resident of Sussex Gardens, a New Community residential complex for families located at 78 North Sixth St. in Newark, Williams recently played host to a building-wide Christmas party, all financed through the generosity of her heart.
“She took it upon herself to have something in the building for the kids,” said Dorothy Artis, a care coordinator for the Department of Health and Social Services who primarily works with residents of NCC’s family housing units.
Williams has become something of a professional at throwing holiday get-togethers. She’s been hosting holiday parties at her building for more than a decade. In the days leading up to the festivities, she plans the menu, purchases craft supplies, hangs the decorations and selects music to set just the right tone.
When the evening of the Christmas party finally arrives, Williams pauses to remind everyone that the celebration of Christmas has a specific purpose.
“It’s about Jesus,” she says with a warm smile as the festivities begin. Williams previously worked for NCC’s Security Department. She now works as a home health aide.
Recently, Dunn said that Williams helped her cope through a difficult period in her life. Williams does not hesitate to offer her neighbors a helping hand but it’s more than that, Dunn said. It’s her warm and gentle touch and her sincere care when she asks, “Is everything okay?”
“I finally had somebody who humanly felt my pain,” Dunn, 43, said. “She has an open, willing heart that draws you in.”