a polluted parking lot

On my way to the grocery story I walk past a parking lot that is really polluted. I found out last week that this parking lot belongs to a used car dealership called Major World. Their main entrance is on 43-40 Northern Boulevard in  Long Island City and appears to be very clean and organized. But, the back parking lot is full of litter and debris such as empty oil cans and soda bottles.

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The image below is taken at the back parking lot. Unfortunately, this parking lot fits over 3000 used cars so the amount of pollution is astounding.

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The image below is the parking lot on the side on 37th Avenue. I am not sure who is responsible for the sidewalk or grassy area but it is overgrown and full of trash. A large shopping center and Stop n Shop grocery story is directly across the street and hundreds of people walk through this every every single day. Has nobody seriously complained about this before?

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a surprise donation

I went to work early on Wednesday morning with a sour attitude and severe determination to finish a project that had been frustrating me for over a week. After I made my coffee and slammed down at my desk, a co-worker approached me and surprised me with two full shopping bags of school supplies that he bought for Operation Backpack for Volunteers of America Greater New York! I jumped up and gave him a big hug. I couldn’t believe it! It was unbelievably generous. It made me so HAPPY!

I had posted a flyer in the breakroom at the studio a few weeks ago announcing my plan to participate in Operation Backpack and my request for assistance.  I have always felt uncomfortable asking for donations towards a charity for several reasons: I don’t want anyone to feel pressured to donate or volunteer if they are not interested or think it will affect my feelings toward them if they say NO.

The co-worker who donated the school supplies is a carpenter that has been working with me for almost six months and I don’t know him very well. He had asked me for the list of supplies showing an interest in the organization and the project and I was just excited that I had a good feedback from the staff. He later approached me in private explaining that he had grown up in poverty and he wanted to help a child because he knew what it felt like to have nothing. He embraced the opportunity to make a significant impact on a homeless child with a simple task and I hope he knows his act of kindness will change a child’s life significantly.

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“being good is commendable, but only when it is combined with doing good is it useful.” – unknown

I just want to say THANK YOU for all the donations and support I’ve received on this project and a special THANKS to my co-worker for his generous contribution!

gardening with the good friends of gantry

I arrived at Gantry Plaza State Park early to sit by the water to enjoy the spectacular view of Manhattan skyline while I enjoyed my cup of steamy black coffee. Since this park is a short commute away from both my apartment and the studio I visit here often. I love to ride my bike down to the water early in the morning and relax on the hammocks and read a good book.

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I signed up for the gardening project earlier in the week on the New York Cares website. We were also teaming up with the Friends of Gantry Plaza State Park, a non-profit organization dedicated to maintaining this beautiful East River park since 2001, along with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation.

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On their website, the Friends of Gantry Plaza State Park state their mission “…is to enhance the quality of life in Long Island City, NY, by promoting awareness of, concern for and participation in the publicly accessible green and open space in the neighborhood and along the waterfront.”

At 10 am we met up with Theresa, our Project Leader from New York Cares and Bill Bylewski, the President of Friends of Gantry Plaza State Park. We signed our waivers and volunteer service agreements that are mandatory to fill out each year to volunteer at this park because it covers a person with insurance in case of an accident.

Each volunteer gets a bright green vest to wear  that were supplied by New York Cares during I Love My Park Days which is a great idea because it shows park goers that volunteers are maintaining the park they are enjoying and to encourage them to ask us how to participate as a volunteer if they are interested as well. And a vest goes on top of any outfit!

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A big THANK YOU to Anne, Irene, and Anika for allowing me to photograph their hard work in the rose garden and allowing it to be on my blog. Everything that is done by the Friends of the Gantry is on a volunteer basis, including all the office work that goes into a non-profit organization.

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As we worked we talked about the park, our lives, and our volunteer experiences. It’s always nice to hear others passionately share their volunteer experiences with me. Some volunteers were new to this park and loved the view and the beautiful gardens. It’s surprising to find out how many people are not aware this park exists. Come to Queens and visit us more often!

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After weeding the rose gardens I strolled over to the outdoor cafe to check out the menu. A fresh pot of coffee was graciously brewed for me. I needed more coffee!  :)