Garden Communities Names Jackie Godown of West Orange its Newest Golden Resident

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Program Honors 50-Year Tenure at West Mill Gardens with a Year’s Free Rent 

WEST ORANGE, N.J. (April 11, 2024) – Jackie Godown of West Orange spent most of her young life traveling from city to city, state to state, and even country to country. But when she first entered her apartment at West Mill Gardens, she knew she had found her forever home at the Essex County community. The decision to move there – and still be there 50 years later – was significant not only to Jackie but to the owner of the property, Garden Communities, which recently dubbed Godown its newest “Golden Resident.” The title comes with a year’s free rent.   

“It was such a surprise,” said Godown, in her lilting French accent. While she had been invited to attend a meeting in the property manager’s office, she didn’t know why. Surrounded by about a dozen well-wishers, she was both moved and excited by the Golden Resident ceremony, at which she was presented with a bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates, and a giant cardboard check redeemable for a year’s free rent. The property management team as well as representatives from Garden Communities’ corporate office took part in the celebration.   

Godown came to West Mill Gardens in 1974 on the advice of a real estate agent with whom she became close. It was a move she has never regretted. “I was working at the time as a bookkeeper in Livingston,” she said, describing it as “nice and close.” 

The Golden Resident said she has made relatively few changes to her apartment, but her neighbors have changed throughout the years. She still enjoys a close relationship with her former downstairs neighbor, who moved to Florida but still calls and visits. “I like it here,” she said, pointing out that the property is convenient to everything she needs, from shopping and dining to healthcare providers, including Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center located directly across the street. 

Godown met her former husband, an army officer, on the military base in Europe where he was stationed and she was working as the secretary and translator for the chief warrant officer. The couple came to the U.S., living first in Colorado, moving later to Minnesota and Tennessee. One child was born in Colorado, the other in Minnesota. “We finally landed in New Jersey,” she said. Now, Godown has two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.  

Short Hills, N.J.-based Garden Communities established its Golden Resident Club in 2020 to honor those who have occupied their apartments for at least 50 years. So far, the company has celebrated 17 recipients. According to Maria Friscia, who supervises the Golden Resident program, “While we have been honoring longtime residents since 2020, even now, four years later, it is still heartwarming and emotional to celebrate with them. Each Golden Resident is special and has a unique story about how they came to live at Garden Communities.” 

Celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2024, Garden Communities is a leading New Jersey-based real estate owner, builder and operator in the luxury multifamily niche. In addition to its many long-time communities, Garden Communities’ robust project pipeline will introduce dozens of new developments in the tri-state area over the next several years. The company is well recognized for its focus on meeting the needs and desires of today’s modern renters.   

PHOTO CAPTION: Jackie Godown (third from left) with members of the West Mill Gardens property management and Garden Communities corporate teams.

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