Making dreams come true at Grace West Manor

Idrissa Matthews and her daughters, Grace West Manor residents, Newark, New Jersey

As a mother of two young children, I value outdoor play time. But until recently, I’ve had to drive to other communities in search of a safe, outdoor space for my kids to run around and play.

Thanks to KaBOOM! and the PSEG Foundation, my kids now will have a playground that’s right around the corner from our home in Grace West Manor, a large apartment complex in Newark’s Central Ward.

Recently, a team of local parents and PSEG volunteers descended on Grace West Manor and, “KaBOOM!,” by the end of just one day they had completely transformed an underutilized lot into a fully finished playground.

The other parents and I first learned about the project toward the end of the past school year, when the students were able to give their thoughts and ideas for the playground – that helped the kids feel like they were part of the process. By being involved in the planning, they appreciate the playground more and feel proud of their contribution to it.

It’s really exciting how fast the playground was built. I was a little skeptical in the beginning, wondering, “How long is this going to take … is this really going to happen?” But it’s happened so quickly, it’s wonderful. Now I know why the organization is called “KaBOOM!

I’ve lived in Newark a very long time, and when I was a kid I didn’t pay attention to the fact that we didn’t have a playground. But when I became a mom, that’s when I started to wonder, “Where am I going to take my babies to play?” Thankfully, with the help of the people at KaBOOM! and the employee volunteers from PSEG, I don’t have to worry about that anymore.



My kids are thrilled to have a new play area close by, and I’m excited for the changes it will bring to our community. I hope it becomes a place not just for kids to play in, but also a meeting place for adults to have conversation and where entire families can spend time with one another. I think this playground is a great start to reshaping the community where we live.


Idrissa Matthews - Grace West Manor resident, Newark, New Jersey


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