gardening in east river park

It’s Saturday! I am volunteering with New York Cares and the New York Park and Recreation Department in East River Park on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to plant daffodil and crocus bulbs in one of the many many gardens. Our many wishes came true and we have a warm sunny Spring day- finally!

I used to play tennis at the Brian Watkins Tennis Center in East River Park, but have’t been here in years! I am eager to walk down Houston Street and explore the Lower East Side of Manhattan this morning before I get to the park. The 7 train was running to Manhattan this weekend so my commute was quick and easy. I got of the F train at Houston and took my time walking down to the river. Katz’s Deli was a great place for me to visit for the first time and get a cup of coffee to go.

I continue to walk another 15 minutes to the East River Park, which runs alongside the Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Drive and the East River from Montgomery Street to East 12th Street. This park is over 57 acres of waterfront property with spectacular views of the Williamsburg Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. It has bike paths, flower gardens, tennis courts, baseball courts, playgrounds, soccer fields, an amphitheater, and the Ecology Center. 

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I meet the New York Cares team leaders and fellow volunteers at the track house off the FDR and 6th. The New York City Parks gardener, Hayward, gets our supplies ready for us to start planting!

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For the next few hours we plant daffodil and crocus bulbs in the garden and talk, laugh, and enjoy being outside. I’m really glad I signed up for this project – it was a great way to be outdoors, meet new people, and explore the LES once again, and hopefully in a few weeks we will see our flowers grow and bloom!

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As you can see, there are some daffodils already blooming around the park. The month of March was starting to get depressing because the weather just wasn’t letting winter go quite yet. I was hoping to wash and put all my gloves and hats away for the year but I still need them every day.

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After the volunteer event I decided to walk down the path along the East River and check out more of the park. The baseball field had a game in progress. I noticed the sign (pictured below) that warns players and visitors to clean up after themselves! Just to note, the entire park was really clean of trash except in the fenced off areas under the bridge.

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After the volunteer event I decided to walk down the path along the East River and check out more of the park. The baseball field had a game in progress. I noticed the sign (pictured above) that warns players and visitors to clean up after themselves! Just to note, the entire park was really clean of trash except in the fenced off areas under the bridge.

 

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volunteering in chinatown

I was volunteering at Sara D. Roosevelt park today with New York Cares and the New York City Park and Recreation. The weather was great and we worked hard raking leaves along the edge of the fence.

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As you can see in the pictures there is still some snow on the ground. The weather has been quite cold the last few weeks but gave volunteers a break this Saturday morning. It felt great to get outside and work up a sweat!

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The park is in Chinatown area of New York City so there was a lot of trash around the park because of the Chinese New Year parade and celebrations held here recently.

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Thankfully I did see a small crew of workers from New York City Parks and Recreation sweeping and cleaning the trash in the park. They definitely had a lot of work to do that day.

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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!  :)

I love, New York Cares

After moving to New York, I was searching for a new volunteer opportunity, and I found an organization called New York Cares. It is the city’s largest volunteer organization, running volunteer programs for 1,300 nonprofits, city agencies, and public schools. They have almost 56,000 volunteers signed up right now. New York Cares has many different programs and volunteer opportunities.  They also show if the volunteer opportunity would be something good for children, families or groups. After a quick orientation meeting you can go to their website and just sign up for any program that you are interested in at the time that is convenient for you because we both know that life never slows down.

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A few projects I have participated in have been: to clean, revitalize and garden in Astoria Park in early summer, spread mulch and weed flower beds in Riverside Park in the fall, played sports with children with disabilities for KEEN at  the East 54th Street Recreation Center, served water and snacks during the 5 Boro Bike Race,  and helping out at the Long Island City cat sanctuary owned by Bobbi and the Strays. I have had a lot of much fun and gained a lot of experience by volunteering. I have met some amazing people and made a few friends. I’ve learned a lot about the city as well.

If you would like to get involved please go to www.newyorkcares.org and sign up for an orientation. If you want to donate go to http://www.newyorkcares.org/donate_now/. New York Cares also has several opportunities to donate your time to the Hurricane Sandy Relief efforts.

Most of these organizations would be not running without the help of their volunteers. It’s a great and easy way to volunteer your time and give back to the NY community. We all have our reasons to donate our time and we all have different reasons why it makes us HAPPY!

a thank you from me

After Hurricane Sandy hit the NYC coast, I volunteered in Coney Island with New York Cares to serve food supplies to the local residents. It was a cold bleak Saturday morning and after a long bus ride I arrived to see a line of people several blocks long waiting for food supplies. I put on a smile and worked for hours; sorting through the fruit, bagging meals, and crushing boxes. I didn’t stop until one elderly woman grabbed my hand so hard I couldn’t do anything but look her in the eyes. She had tears pouring down her face and look of despair that would break your heart. She said “I want to thank you honey, for coming here today and taking care of me because I needed you. God bless you”  I will never forget her words. I think that was the first time I realized the true impact that my service had on others.

I would like to say THANK YOU to all the volunteers out there that have given their valuable time, energy, funds and heart to their favorite cause. As a volunteer  you always deserve the sense of pride and accomplishment you feel inside and even if we feel it is not necessary to hear all the time, we as volunteers should always graciously accept  the appreciation and thanks we receive from the people who notice our hard work and dedication.