Dispatches from Kathy Fellows’ West Ward neighborhood

About Kathy Fellows

kathy fellowsI live in (and love) the City of Newark. As a native New Yorker I am an “immigrant” to Newark. I have lived on Long Island, Manhattan, even Silicon Valley California, and for three horrific years, the “wilds” of upstate New York.

I grew up in suburbia, but I realized after getting my first master’s degree that I could not stay in suburbia. I got a job in Manhattan and moved to Jersey City. In the 1990’s I moved to San Jose, CA (Silicon Valley) for love. Ultimately I felt homesick so I returned to the “big city”.

After 9/11 there were no jobs in my chosen field…except in Newark. I used to get up at 5:00 am to be to work at 550 Broad Street by 8:30 am every day. I was amazed by the people. So friendly, so kind. The main thing that always stuck in my mind was how my colleagues always said, “Call me if you need anything.” They meant it.

When it came time for me to buy a home, the first place I looked was Newark. In 2003 I proudly bought my home, here in the West Ward. Fast forward 13 lucky years, I am still the “new kid on the block”. My neighbors echoed my colleagues’s sentiment, “call me if you need anything.”

Over the years, they have helped me. As a novice homeowner I felt like Shelley Long in The Money Pit. My neighbors showed me the fine art of draining a gas furnace, and a million other subtle nuances which ensured my survival as a homeowner. I have helped my neighbors, as well. We are truly a community.

My best friends here live next door. He is from China and she from Ecuador. I have watched their three fine sons grow up, get married, have children and buy their own homes. My next door neighbors are Muslim, and we house sit for one another. The neighbor behind me is from India, and he is the finest gardener I have ever met. People come from all over to see his amazing garden. Every August he treats us all to fresh beans and tomatoes.

My neighbor on the corner grew up here in Newark. This past Thanksgiving he and his beautiful wife spearheaded an impromptu Free Thanksgiving. He was up until 11:30 the night before, cooking chicken, greens, and sweet potatoes, and on Thanksgiving we set up in front of a closed church. Anyone who wanted to get fed, got fed. Cars were beeping and waving and saying, “Such a nice thing you are doing!”

In my humble opinion, political pundits on television often lament the loss of (or the non-existence of) that ideal small town, America. I think if anyone ever thought to look they would find it right here in my neighborhood in Newark’s West Ward.