Photos by Richard Ryals.
New Community board members, employees and friends gathered at Monsignor William J. Linder Plaza on April 12 to celebrate the 89th birthday of Madge Wilson, who serves as the organization’s Outreach Coordinator and is a long-time member of its Board of Directors.
Wilson has worked at New Community for 42 years, starting her NCC career in the Property Management Department in 1980. In addition to helping community members secure housing, she has served countless individuals over the years beyond her official job responsibilities. She started a Christmas drive, which she still does today, arranging for the collection of holiday gifts for children from a variety of sources and distributing them to families in need. She also distributes donated turkeys to families in need for Thanksgiving to ensure they have a festive holiday meal.
Wilson works with the National Council of Jewish Women Essex County (NCJW/Essex) to ensure New Community and Saint Rose of Lima families are able to participate in the organization’s annual Back 2 School Store, which takes place each summer. It provides school supplies, shoes, clothing, winter coats and toiletries to county residents in need who are identified by area organizations.
In addition to the annual events, Wilson also helps New Community residents furnish their apartments if necessary. She will arrange for pick up and drop off of donated furniture to make the units truly feel like home.
She also fields phone calls from residents, prospective residents and employees and helps them in whatever way she can.
“We wanted to honor Ms. Wilson and celebrate her on her special day,” said Chief Financial Officer and interim Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Mbakaya. “She does so much for New Community, its residents, its employees and its clients. This served as a small token of our appreciation.”
New Community Board Chairman Dr. A. Zachary Yamba wished Wilson a very happy birthday.
“It’s a real milestone,” he said. “We continue to wish her good health so she can continue doing what she’s been doing for NCC.”
New Community Director of Mission Frances Teabout said the celebration marked Wilson’s birthday but also celebrated her work over the years.
“There is no limit to Ms. Wilson’s compassion and commitment to helping individuals in need,” Teabout said. “She is the walking, talking embodiment of the mission of New Community.”
Wilson was very grateful for the celebration and provided the following message:
It was once said that “The best present you can gift anyone on their birthday is your time.” That said, I am beside myself with immense gratitude that my friends, family, colleagues and the community gave me their time and undivided attention by playing a special part in my celebration of 89 years of life!
Words can never adequately express my appreciation for this gesture of honoring me on my special day. I sincerely appreciate all the in-person well wishes at the event and felt so special to have received so many telephone calls, cards, flowers and last, but certainly not least, an abundance of prayers. The perfect recipe for a beautiful birthday is to be surrounded by the people you love and those who love and admire you. And, yes, NCC “understood the assignment” (as the young folks say) and they did not disappoint!
I am sure many can attest to this; as the years pass in our lives, it is essential to realize that every precious year is an opportunity to reflect and hold dear to our hearts a few good memories. Thanks to a circle of beautiful people I have in my life, I will add the memory of the delightful celebration of my 89th birthday.
Since this day of celebration, I wake up each morning with the gentlest smile on my face reminiscing about the event and the outpouring of love and appreciation for my life’s toil. As most of you know, I have been aligned with New Community Corporation for 42 years. I chose this career path because I believe love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries, in helping to build marginalized communities. I passionately believe you cannot hope to create a better world without improving individuals’ lives, especially those in need of essential services, housing and employment support to meet their basic human needs.
As Nelson Mandela poignantly stated, “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” To this end, I have worked day and night, often working seven days a week, sometimes alongside Monsignor Linder, embracing the mission of NCC: to help residents of inner cities improve the quality of their lives to reflect individual God-given dignity and personal achievement. This is truly my proudest achievement in life, and I vow to continue this path of dedication until the ultimate calling from the most high.
In closing, please know that I am praying for you all and I thank you for your prayers for me. I thank God for allowing me to see another year of a life of service. Please know that the greatest gift you can continue to give is the gift of service by joining forces with New Community Corporation to help make a difference in the greater community. I witnessed first-hand what this organization has done; transforming the City of Newark to become one of the largest and most comprehensive community developments in the nation! Your commitment to join me in continuing the work of this internationally renowned organization will be appreciated. The gift of service legacy is the greatest gift of all!