gathering around the boathouse

On Saturday I hung out with a great group of people! I had soooo much fun!! I joined Green Shores NYC, the L.I.C. Boathouse, Riverkeepers, and the Friends of Gantry at the local East River shoreline in Long Island City in the Gantry State Park for the 2014 Riverkeeper Sweep.

It’s a quick commute for me on the 7 train so I arrive early and enjoy my homemade granola bar and coffee on the benches by the waterfront enjoying the view of Manhattan that I LOVE so much. The forecast had predicted rain but the clouds seem to be clearing and the sun is peeking through the leftover clouds. The L.I.C. Flea is already in full swing with music, food vendors cooking, and booths set up. It’s a great place to try different food, enjoy the waterfront in Queens, and buy some antiques or homemade items.

RiverKeeper_logoI had volunteered with Green Shores NYC a few years ago at a waterfront clean-up in Astoria Park. This not-for-profit organization is run by volunteers only and maintains the eight miles of the Astoria-Long Island City Waterfront from Newtown Creek to Bowery Bay. If you want to get involved with a local organization to participate in community clean-ups or other projects along the waterfront in Queens – THIS IS IT! 

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I am pictured above with Katie Ellman, President and Director of Green Shores NYC at the beginning of the volunteer event and, as you can see I am wearing my “Fight Like A Girl” t-shirt today!

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 We started off the day helping the volunteers from New York Cares and the Friends of Gantry to remove excess mulch off the plants in the garden. Apparently the city used too much of the mulch in this area in the garden beds and it is suffocating the plants and trees.

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As we are working in the garden removing the excess mulch we are also picking up small bits of litter which consist mostly of cigarette butts, food wrappers or small plastic pieces which can blow into the river and kill fish and birds. I’ve noticed a lot of dog walkers and smokers stopping in this park and they should be aware of the damage that pollution can cause. I really wish the city would install cigarette butt receptacles, do not pollute signs or more trash cans in this area. The signs don’t look nice but litter does NOT look nice either.

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After a short break, Martha and I move over to the L.I.C. Boathouse dock to check if there is litter for us to pick up. We notice that this area is full of broken glass (pictured above) because the old double paned windows on the building next to the dock are breaking. There is also some trash stuck to the fence which is blowing over from the L.I.C Flea. Once again, I just think that people should be aware of the dangers of litter when they are eating by the waterfront. I’m hoping that anyone who saw us that day cleaning up will take a moment to think about it.

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We managed to fill only 1 large garbage of trash through-out the day which is a good thing. It is nice to see that this park is relatively clean and well maintained. Most of the litter was scattered on the street under cars and stuck to the fencing.

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After the event we hung out by the Long Island Community Boathouse, which offers FREE kayaking or canoeing! What more can you ask for! If you want to explore the area by water or try a fun summer water sport then I highly recommend kayaking with the L.I.C. Boathouse! The boathouse is run by volunteers also so if you are looking for a FUN place to volunteer you could check this out also!

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The view of the river is spectacular at any time. It was a great day to be outdoors enjoying it. It was my first time meeting everyone from the L.I.C Boathouse and being inside their facility.

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After the event, we got beers from the Rockaway Brewing Company next door. And you know I LOVE anyways Rockaways and this brewery was originated in the backyard of a bungalow in Far Rockaway! They brew the beer in the back and sell it in a small room in the front. A friendly staff, good locally brewed beer, and free potato chips – what a deal!

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Like I said before, I had a fun day. Excuse my lack of writing skills but what else can I say. There are moments such as this at a volunteer event where you feel like you are a part of something bigger than what you had signed up for. You meet local community groups with great people who are passionate about similar interests as you. You are sitting in the boathouse with a group of people drinking a beer laughing, talking and enjoying a summer afternoon like you are old friends. You skip home with a smile on your face. Like I said before, what more can you ask for.

planting beach grass at far rockaway

When I leave the apartment the sidewalk is wet from the early morning rain. The sky is now clear and the sun is peaking out from behind a cloud. I am hoping it turns out to be good weather today! I am on my way out to the Rockaways to plant beach grass on the dunes of Beach 180- 115 with the New York City Parks Department.

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The bus stops right in front of Surfside Bagels – the cheese and spinach topped bagel is 4000 calories and delicious and the coffee will give you a jolt to  last the entire day! I wanted to stop here first to get coffee – of course, and then walk to Beach 108 to meet up with the City Parks Department and the other volunteers.

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There are some luxury condos for rent here on the Rockaway Beach – I wish I could rent one for the summer! Anyone who pays the rent can join me!

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The staff for the City Parks Department are really friendly, organized, and ready to get the volunteers working right away. We are armed with one little shovel and beach grass. We are instructed to dig a small hole and plop in two shoots and fill in. It’s simple, easy, and everyone seems eager to start.

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There are a lot of big groups of volunteers so the process goes quickly and soon we have a huge area covered in grass. The beach grass is said to take root and start growing within the month.

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 After event I decide to walk back down to Beach 86th to relax and eat my lunch. The sun has been creeping out slowly all morning and by mid afternoon I’m in my tank top and applying sunscreen. It’s a great opportunity to relax on the beach. As you can see (below) there is a lot of construction along the way. The Rockaway Beach Restoration project has been an ongoing effort since Hurricane Sandy hit the coast and a lot of work has to be done. If you want to read more information about the restoration project please click here.

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I notice that Beach 106 rest area is almost complete. They are installing the cement pathway to the pavilion and new New York City recycling bins have arrived! Thankfully these bins have a cover. There are several trash bins on the beach here at the Rockaways but they are open on the top for birds to dig in and high winds cause litter to fly around on the beach.

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I love going to the beach during this time of year. It’s a peaceful place to unwind. I love watching the surfers and paddle boaters in the water. A few weeks ago I a cute surfer had stopped to chat with me- too bad I can’t find HIM again! :) That was the first time I thought a wet suit was sexy.

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As I was sitting there relaxing I set my phone to record five minutes of the ocean, just to have a reminder to carry with me every day. Some days I could use the sound of the ocean in my headphones from the place I love the most during my chaotic commute on the subway.

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one thing that’s green

Today I am attending the 7th Annual “One Thing That’s Green” event hosted by JetBlue Airlines and New York Restoration Project and its MillionTreesNYC initiative! This is a BIG event and I am happy to participate! 

I’ve been eager to volunteer with MillionTreesNYC. It is a citywide program with one HUGE ambitious goal: to plant and care for one million new trees across the City’s all five boroughs over the next decade. They plant trees. Trees are good. 

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It’s early Saturday morning, the sun is shining – it’s supposed to be 65 deg today! I walk over to 48th Street and jump on the Q104 bus for a quick ten minute ride to the Woodside Houses, where the event is taking place. I read that 250 volunteers have signed up today to plant 100 trees in the neighborhood during this event.

I arrive at the event by 9 am. I get a wrist band, a raffle ticket, and a free JetBlue t-shirt. I wonder over to the breakfast brunch table set up with bagels and coffee from Panera Bread. There is COFFEE!!!! :) I LOVE when volunteer events supply us with coffee! I spend some time chatting with JetBlue crew members that are volunteering today. They all seem really happy to have an opportunity to give back to their community.

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I meet Susan, the Program Manager for the NYC Compost Project (see picture below). The NYC Compost Project was created by the NYC Department of Sanitation’s Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling, which provides compost education and outreach to NYC residents, community groups, government agencies, and nonprofits. I think that every volunteer event should have a compost and/or recycling bin on premises to constantly remind us to do the right thing. Susan gives me information on how to find compost bins around NYC and we chat for a while. If you see Susan at any event say HELLO and don’t forget to THANK her for all her hard work!

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After breakfast, a radio DJ announces that we are having a fitness workout by a celebrity trainer…I make it through the first part of the workout that involves stretching and squats. When he started doing push ups I quickly ran off pretending I needed more coffee.

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We break off into groups organized by colored flags and our wrist bands and walk over to different areas of the neighborhood. I decide to plant the big trees on the sidewalks and after a quick demonstration we move over to our first tree planting! Digging the first hole is easy until we reach a root left behind from a tree that was removed last year. We have to break out the saw and pick ax and put some sweat and muscle into removing it.

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Our first tree is in the ground – success! :)

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We move on to a grassy area to plant another tree. The time goes by really quickly. After our second tree we are ushered back to our meeting grounds for lunch and a raffle.

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It was a great volunteer event! I was really glad I had a chance to volunteer with NYRP once again and MillionTreesNYC for the first time. I’m always happy to see big companies such as JetBlue using their resources to sponsor volunteer events that make a difference. And, as always, volunteers make it all come together!

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sign up for “one thing that’s green” day

I just signed up for the seventh annual One Thing That’s Green on Saturday, April 19th in Highland Park hosted by JetBlue Airlines and New York Restoration Project and its MillionTreesNYC initiative! This tree-planting event is estimated to plant over 100 trees with the help of more than 250 volunteers in the garden space in New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) Woodside Houses in Woodside, Queens! That is great! I can’t wait to be a part of this event. 

If you haven’t participated in a volunteer event this year then sign up! I will be there! I love big sponsored volunteer events. We get FREE t-shirts, training, and fun activities through-out the day. Usually breakfast, lunch, and snacks are provided to volunteers as well. It’s a fun day to get out and meet new people, gain experience, and make a positive difference in the community you live in.

See you there! :)

 

 

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.

 

in need of beach therapy

It’s 42° out and I am taking the bus to Far Rockaway for some “beach therapy” this morning. I’ve spent the last few weeks at home lying on the couch recovering from surgery. The most excitement I’ve had is walking six … Continue reading

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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it’s christmas time in the city!

Christmas time is busy time for all of us no matter what we are doing. I hope that everyone takes a moment this holiday season to reflect on how blessed you are. “tis the season for giving”, they say. That doesn’t mean “buy lots of presents” or “donate all your money to every non-profit that sends a letter”; it is about giving your heart and soul to the good that you can do. It doesn’t have to be much. It just needs to come from the heart. I think spending time with the people we care about is the most important part about this season.

This past year I’ve made more time to volunteer and it has been rewarding in so many ways! I’ve had a ton of support and encouragement from my loving boyfriend, family, friends, and supporters. I am looking forward to greater things in the New Year.

I want to wish all of my readers (all 14 of you) a Happy Holiday and a wonderful New Year for 2014! Thank you for inspiring me to be a better person and helping me on my journey as a volunteer in the big city!  –theHappyVolunteer

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volunteering with city harvest

On Saturday morning I took the train to Brooklyn to volunteer with City Harvest at their mobile market. City Harvest is an organization that collects food from restaurants, grocery stores, markets, farms, and manufacturers and distributes it through out the New York City area in several different ways to those in need at shelters, soup kitchens, poverty stricken neighborhoods, and other agencies.

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The mobile market distributes free fruit and vegetables through a program called “Healthy Neighborhoods” for residents in low-income communities and provides nutrition education with cooking demonstrations and recipe cards that will hopefully inspire affordable, healthy meal choices. The mobile markets are quite organized. I found out that each resident has to register in advance  and is given an amount of food depending on the size of their family and their nutritional needs.

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When we got to the location we were given a brief explanation on how to distribute the vegetables and fruit to each group or individual. I spent a few hours that day weighing, bagging, and distributing onions.

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It was cold outside but it was rewarding to be there and assisting a great organization such as City Harvest in all the good that they do. AND they had coffee!!!! :)

#givingtuesday

On Tuesday, December 3 is a day when global charities, families, businesses, community centers, students and volunteers will come together to create #GivingTuesday!! It is a National Day of Giving! In one day we can all do GOOD. We can do it everyday but let’s make this ONE day stand out and hopefully encourage others to make a difference too.

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It’s a simple idea with a big message. Remember, every little gesture that we make can make a HUGE difference. So, buy a bowl of soup for someone in need, donate old clothes to a shelter, or volunteer with your favorite organization. If you need more ideas please check out http://community.givingtuesday.org right now!

If you participate in #GivingTuesday don’t forget to tag your photos and stories on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. You can tag me in Instagram or email me your stories and photos! I will share them on my page! Thank you so much!

raking leaves in astoria park

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!

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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!