News and Events

Emotional and Impactful Kickoff Event Held for Imagine Newark

Newark leaders greeted with love and gratitude all who attended the May 16 kickoff of Imagine Newark, A Center for Coping with Loss, Newark's new grief support center for children and families. Located at the Achieve Charter School on Clinton Avenue, the Center provides free, year-round grief support for children, teens, and their families coping with loss due to death.

After hearing about the Imagine mission from Mary Robinson, Imagine's founder and Executive Director, attendees were moved by presentations given by Vincent Rouse, Pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church; John James, South Ward Councilman; A'Dorian Murray-Thomas, Executive Director and Founder of She Wins and member of the Newark Board of Education; and Maria Collins, Vice President, New York Life Foundation.

"We know that 1 in 17 children in New Jersey will experience the death of a parent or sibling by the age of 18, and this statistic doubles by the time they reach the age of 25. When children are not supported after a death, grief can have a serious impact on academic performance, social interactions, and behavior," said Maria Collins, vice president of the New York Life Foundation. "There is also a higher risk of substance use, depression and suicide. We invest in programs like Imagine Newark because they provide access to bereavement resources and services in underserved areas."

In noting the huge numbers of grieving families in the Newark area, speakers stressed the power of watching the strength of the community come together in partnership with Imagine to address issues of grief and loss. A first class of 18 community volunteers were trained in March and the center opened in April. There are already over 40 children and adults participating in support groups.

"Kids in grief are kids at risk, but if they get the support they need, that grief can be transformed into resiliency," explained Mary Robinson, MA, CT, Imagine Executive Director and Founder. "We're committed to helping youth who are dealing with loss and trauma grow up emotionally healthy and able to lead meaningful and productive lives. We're incredibly grateful for the tremendous support we've received from the New York Life Foundation, The Healthcare Fund of NJ, PSE&G, The Schumann Fund of NJ, and the South Ward Children's Alliance, and look forward to more partners joining our mission."

For more information about Imagine Newark and opportunities to participate, volunteer, or donate, please visit or contact Imagine Newark Program Director, Jacelyn Matthews at or 908-264-3100 Ext. 108.

A taped interview with Mary Robinson at the Newark opening will air on NJTV in the near future.

Pictured from L to R: Maria Collins, VP New York Life Foundation; A'Dorian Murray-Thomas, Executive Director and Founder, She Wins and member Newark Board of Education; Stuart Arnold, Chair Emeritus, Imagine Board of Trustees; Mary Robinson, Imagine Executive Director; South Ward Councilman John James; Asia J. Norton, Newark Board of Education member; and Imagine Volunteer Tarajee Wadee'ah Russell-Wertz

Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization, provides year-round grief support for children and young adults using a peer-support group model. Trained adult volunteers and professionals provide children and teens with comfort and the tools needed to process grief resulting from death or life-altering illness. In addition to providing grief support at its two centers in Mountainside and Newark, Imagine provides education in the community, leading workshops and providing on-site support in schools and workplaces where traumatic loss has occurred. Groups, which meet on weeknights, serve children and adults from more than 55 New Jersey towns.

The New York Life Foundation has, since its founding in 1979, provided nearly $280 million in charitable contributions to national and local nonprofit organizations. Inspired by New York Life's tradition of service and humanity, the Foundation supports programs that benefit young people, particularly in the areas of educational enhancement and childhood bereavement. The Foundation also encourages and facilitates the community involvement of employees and agents of New York Life through its Volunteers for Good and Grief-Sensitive Schools programs. To learn more, please visit

Mary Robinson, Founder and Executive Director of Imagine, was Recently Named a CNN Hero of the Year. See clip below.