THE NEWARK AREA WELFARE COMMITTEE, INC.
While documenting the history of the Newark Area Welfare Committee (NAWC) we found several references to an unnamed gentleman (we will call him Mr. Newark) who in 1917 saw that some veterans returning from “the war to end all wars” were struggling to make ends meet. Mr. Newark began buying food and distributing it to those in need. Soon other neighbors started buying food and giving it to Mr. Newark for distribution. While we were unable to connect these residents to NAWC they certainly embodied our motto, “Neighbors Helping Neighbors.”
In 1893 the New Century Club of Newark, Delaware, was formed by a group of eight Newark women. Later, on May 18, 1920 a committee was formed called the Welfare Committee. The Welfare Committee worked with the town Council in assisting needy families. The first chairperson of the Welfare Committee was Mrs. Etta Wilson assisted by Mrs. Edna Dickey, two local church women.
In the early 1930s, Mrs. Edna Dickey and Mrs. Etta Wilson established a food cupboard and directed a Christmas food basket program. The food cupboard was in Mrs. Wilson’s home. The women enlisted the help of Etta Wilson’s Bible class which became the Newark Area Welfare Committee. It wasn’t until June of 1986, that the Food Cupboard moved from Etta’s home to a room in the Newark United Methodist Church on Main Street. To honor Etta Wilson the Food Cupboard and Classroom 121 in the Church where Etta taught Bible Study were named in her memory.
In the 1950s Mr. Kenneth Lambert, an administrator in the state department of public welfare, was president of NAWC for 26 years, saw that not much was being done to help single women and their children. Thus, the Emergency Assistance Program was begun. This program was developed to help those in crises by making payments on behalf of clients for rent, utilities, mortgage and other necessities of life.
In 1987, the NAWC was reorganized and incorporated as The Newark Area Welfare Committee, Inc. and received its charitable organization designation under IRC 501(c)(3). It is now a non-denominational community-supported group, staffed entirely by volunteers. The organization works closely with the Hudson State Service Center to provide emergency assistance for residents of the greater Newark area.
The Newark branch of the Needlework Guild of America provided household linens and new clothing for the poor of the Christina School District from 1922 until 1992. Frequently it worked with Etta Wilson’s Bible class and the subsequent Newark Area Welfare Committee to help in family emergencies. In later years, much of the money collected was used to purchase new shoes for children. The Newark Guild disbanded in 1992 and its shoe purchasing program was transferred to the Newark Area Welfare Committee.
Val Nardo of ‘Val Nardo’s Needy Family Fund’ had long been a friend of the NAWC, and gave special assistance with Christmas baskets. Val’s Needy Family Fund formally affiliated with the Newark Welfare Committee in 2008. This insured that Val’s work would continue when he was no longer able to manage it himself. Though Mr. Nardo passed away on May 5, 2012, his generosity lives on through the work of the committee.
Today, the Newark Area Welfare Committee, Inc. offers several programs to assist its clients. These include the Food Cupboard, Emergency Assistance, Shoe Program, and Holiday Food Boxes. We have named here a few of the many volunteers who have worked tirelessly to help those in need. Unfortunately, we are unable to list all the volunteers over the years. NAWC thanks every one of the volunteers for their service.
Become a member and join your “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” and carry NAWC into the future.