Brrrr! It is a cold November morning but I am eager to get to Astoria Park to volunteer with New York Cares and the Astoria Park Alliance. Astoria Park is 59.96-acres city park that runs along the East River in Queens that has many beautiful trees which means ALOT of leaves to rake in the Fall!
The Astoria Park Alliance is a GREAT organization that was started in 2007 to create a bridge between the community surrounding Astoria Park and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Volunteers and supporters assist in keeping the park maintained and clean and bring awareness to the community. They hold many fun events such as Leaf Fest and the NY Cupcake Run to encourage people to become more involved in Astoria Park and the community.
Even though the weather was chilly that morning, a large group of volunteers arrived and within a few hours we filled over 100 bags of leaves! And it was nice to hear that most of the black garbage bags we used to fill with leaves are re-used from previous volunteer events in the park.
Build It Green! NYC is a nonprofit that takes in salvaged material such as doors, windows, and wood from construction sights, supplier, and other sources to stop these items from going in the landfill. Most of these items are sold in their warehouse and some are donated. This is a GREAT idea! Reuse! Recycle! AND Build It Green! NYC has a program called BIG!Compost that works very hard to increase the participation and acceptance of composting. They supplied a truck and driver on Saturday to come pick up all the leaves we raked to compost at their facility. This compost will later on be used as mulch for city parks.
It had been a really stressful week for me so it was great to get outdoors and enjoy being outside in my favorite park and participate in a fun volunteer event! :) HAPPY!
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.
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.
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!
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.