Kean volunteer group gets grant for garden project

By Dasia Brown

The Kean volunteer group “Be the Change” is being allotted a grant from the Hess Corporation in the amount of $500,000 to help with Newark’s “A Hundred Gardens in A Hundred Days” project.

This grant came after the July 7 memorial garden, named the “Rica Jenkins Garden”, located in one of Newark’s high crime areas South14th Street, was created by Kean students who are volunteers forBTC and residents of the area.

“A Hundred Gardens in A Hundred Days” is a project that BTC Dr. Norma Bowe and Newark city officials put together in which they take a vacant lot and in one day transform it into a garden.

“I asked the community what they needed and they replied ‘a safe area for the children to play in the middle of a crazy neighborhood’,” said Newark Councilman Darren Shariff.

“Be The Change” members with community volunteers.
Photo Credit: Dr. Norma Bowe

That is what “Be the Change” did when they teamed up with Councilman Shariff with the help of professor at Kean, Dr. Norma Bowe.

“The children were excited to have a place to go that would be safe for them to play and the Jenkins family was so happy that this garden was being placed where their loved one had dedicated her life,” said Dr. Bowe.

Rica Jenkins was an activist in the city of Newark for years and was known as the “mayor” by residents on South 14th Street due to how she took charge and helped the residents.

Ms. Jenkins died last year and her death sparked a change in the community.

The lot is the first to be converted in a day from a vacant space to a garden full of fruits, vegetables, flowers and playground toys for the children.

“This was an amazing experience, how could we not do it for the kids?” said Brian Pugliese, graduate student and participator in the “Hundred Lots in a Hundred Days” project.

Kean students with neighborhood children.
Photo Credit: Dr. Norma Bowe

Councilman Shariff explained how the lots that will be created throughout more areas of Newark help with the physiological mindset of the residents in the community.

“The areas are sometimes filled with drug dealers and crimes and having something that is beautiful in the middle of these areas can give people hope for change,” he said. “The gardens are my attempt to organize the community. A community suffers from job lost.”

Hess Corporation has also joined with the councilman and Kean to help with environmental concerns in the city of Newark.

As of now, “Be The Change” has four of the 100 lots done and will continue their help with making a change in communities that need it.

The next lot that will be transformed will be on October 13 at 295 Morris Avenue in Union.

If interested in becoming a part of the “Hundred Gardens in A Hundred Day” project visit

Comments - review our comment policy