Once in a while, someone you may casually know suddenly becomes instrumental through deeds and actions that bridge time and place in order to achieve something truly special. In that way, a single worshipper at the New Providence UMC was in the right place and time to design a bridge between the non-profit grass-roots Kinney Street Community Garden (Newark); the fourth oldest Methodist Church in the country (New Providence); and a North Jersey non-profit organization.
It all began with music—and a serendipitous string of events.
After church one Sunday morning, Jee-Hoon Kryska, a worshipper, accomplished professional pianist, and founder of the Newark-based non-profit Keys-2-Success, mentioned that the keyboard students she works with would be doing a presentation at the non-profit Kinney Street Community Garden in Newark.
She asked if any worshippers wanted to come out to support her and her students. President Sally Hoffman and Administrative Council Chairperson, Pat Kennedy, enthusiastically accepted—and were greatly impressed with both the students’ talent and what the Kinney Street Community Garden has done for the health, education, and well-being of people living in Newark’s Central Ward.
Barbara Weiland, founder and executive director of the non-profit Kinney Street Community Garden, explained the multi-tiered mission—to provide a hands-on educational experience, produce fresh, nutritional food; and form a purpose-driven community within a small gathering place.
The church women were impressed with everything they heard and saw, and what initially began as an invitation to a small recital blossomed into a multi-county web of community connections that made everything else possible.
As a result of the power of connections, Kinney Street Community Gardens received donations of the most essential items on their Grow-A-Garden wish-list: potting soil, nutrients, compost, organic fertilizer, daffodil, and tulip bulbs for the children to plant for spring, along with fresh, nutritious produce to distribute to their Newark family members in time for Thanksgiving.
To accomplish this, the New Providence UMC Women reached out to a Pittstown, NJ non-profit, who in turn was able to provide bins of white potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cabbage.
Church members then purchased an additional 18 boxes of broccoli to augment the other vegetables and assisted in the distribution in time for a happy and wholesome Thanksgiving.