April 29th, 2013
My birthday was quickly approaching, and after sixteen years of receiving presents, I figured it was time to give a little. While other soon-to-be-sixteens were picking out dresses and dance music, I was looking at volunteer opportunities. With the help of my sister, I found New York Cares and was inspired by the work that they do. My family and I decided, without any hesitation, to take part in New York Cares Day.
The park in which we worked was William A. Harris Garden on 153rd and St. Nicholas. The garden needed a lot of tender loving care, but with teamwork, the garden was transformed from a weedy work in progress to a picturesque paradise.
The best part of the day was meeting the garden’s owner, Lori. Her story was heartwarming. Her father had owned the land and, after retiring, had started a garden with the help of some neighborhood children. He tended to it for years. When he got older and had trouble keeping up, he bestowed the garden upon his daughters, who care for it to this day. Seeing how grateful Lori was made the hard work well worth it. She told us that a group of New York Cares volunteers visits William Harris Garden throughout the summer, and I only hope I get the chance to go back.
Thanks, New York Cares, for a very sweet sixteen!
By Kelsi Sprague
April 19th, 2013
Spring has sprung, my little chickadees, and tomorrow 4,000 New Yorkers will wake up early, step outside, blink their mole eyes at a brightly shining sun and smile. They are going to revitalize 70 parks and gardens throughout the city, including these five gems:
1. Abib Newborn Garden
Did you know East New York has more community gardens than any other neighborhood in New York City? And did you further know, that at Abib Newborn Garden, they grow 22 different varieties of peppers each season, including the world’s hottest, the GHOST PEPPER? That pepper is so hot it killed itself.
2. Living Roof Staten Island Ferry
Did you know part of the roof of the Staten Island Ferry Terminal is covered with soil and plant life? Which makes the building more energy efficient and looks pretty awesome on Google Earth? True facts, the both of them. The roof was damaged in the storm, but intrepid volunteers will revitalize it by weeding and being careful not to look down.
3. William Harris Garden
Did you know that the MLB is sending a team of volunteers to this adorable garden in Harlem, from which you can see Yankee Stadium? They will also be grilling their lunch on the garden’s “Yaba Daba Do BBQ”, which is a name so adorkable you just can’t make it up.
4. Inwood Hiill Park
Did you know that A) there is such thing as a group called the M.U.D (Manhattan Ultimate Disc) League, and that B) they donated $5,505 dollars worth of sand and soil to Inwood Hill Park so New York Cares volunteers can restore the lawn upon which all their Frisbee hi-jinks happen? Beautiful.
5. Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum
Did you know there is a mansion museum in the Bronx? I, quite frankly, did not know this. But there is! And the grounds will be beautified by our volunteers on Saturday and they can even pose joyously next to a wigwam, like one of our former employees did.
See you tomorrow!
By Kim Wilson
April 17th, 2013
I love New York Cares Day Spring. It’s probably my favorite event we put on here at New York Cares. Seeing New Yorkers spend a beloved Saturday off in every borough of the city, working together to clean up parks is so inspiring. As the New Media Manager, I have pictures, quotes, and updates coming to me from parks in every neighborhood from my coworkers so I can keep our social networks updated.
As much as I would love to get even more updates sent to me from volunteers and Site Captains, I will not be posting my cell phone number on the Internet. But that doesn’t mean you can’t update everyone to help make the day more interactive and social. Just follow these three easy steps:
1. Post pictures on our Facebook wall and let us know what’s happening at your site. I’ll make sure to like as many as I can so more people see your beautiful snapshots. Check out pictures from last year in our album.
2. Tweet using #NYCDS13. We’ll be following that hashtag all day, but you can also tag us @newyorkcares. I’ll be Retweeting the best pictures and quotes throughout the day, so make your updates witty and beautiful! Let’s see if we can get #NYCDS13 trending in New York. Remember, if you start you tweet with an @ symbol, only people who follow both you and that handle will see it. To make sure all your followers see your amazing posts, don’t start your tweets with @ symbols.
3. Follow us on Instagram at nycares. When you post to Instagram, make sure you check in at your park, so everyone can see the great work you’re doing, and use the NYCDS13 hashtag there as well.
I look forward to seeing everyone’s great pictures and stories on Saturday. And if you see me at a park on the 20th, make sure not to interrupt me while I’m tweeting.
By Susan Torres
April 10th, 2013
Our company credit cards get a good work out in the months leading up to New York Cares Day Spring. Purchasing just the right amount of flower bulbs, gloves, hand trowels, port-o-potties, and more adds up. That’s why fundraising for this day of service is so important.
We know asking your friends and family to donate can be awkward, but all this week we’re giving you a free to be awkward and ask for money pass. The two people who raise the most money above $250 between now and Friday, April 12th will win one economy class ticket to anywhere in the continental U.S. or Canada courtesy of Delta Air Lines.
We know you deserve a vacation – so get fundraising! Learn more about the prizes and rules on our Cares Day page, and get one step closer to that trip you’ve been putting off.
By Susan Torres
March 14th, 2013
If you were anything like me growing up, you were an extremely picky eater. For years my diet consisted of grilled cheese and chicken fingers, despite my parents’ best attempts to get me to eat vegetables or try new foods. It’s about twenty years too late to be of any use to my parents, but a new study shows a way to get children more open to trying new foods.
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior last week suggests that involving children in a school gardening program makes them more interested in trying new foods. Presumably, if the child is involved in how their food is grown and can see exactly where it comes from, they’re more invested and willing to eat them. Even better? According to the survey, “educators observed that the children had been introduced to new ingredients and tastes; kids were bringing healthier snacks and bag lunches to school; and parents were reporting that their children had become more adventurous eaters at home.”
This study is exciting news to anyone who cares about healthy eating, and a great reason to get involved in your local community garden. For many families in New York City, fresh grown fruits and vegetables aren’t easily accessible, making public spaces important in providing access to healthy eating.
There are a number of ways you can expand the palates of children across the city – whether they’re just picky eaters or if they don’t have access to fresh, healthy foods. Sign up to revitalize gardens around the city, get kids excited about the environment on Team Green, or sign up to be a Site Captain for New York Cares Day Spring, when we’ll be working with many urban farms and community gardens.
Exposing children to a wide variety of healthy foods early in life is so important in helping them grow into health-conscious adults. Sign up today and do your part.
By Susan Torres
March 7th, 2013
Although it may seem silly to be thinking about spring when a good majority of the country just got hit with a huge snowstorm, we’re doing it anyway. New York Cares Day Spring is a little over a month away, and our staff can’t wait to be outside planting trees and cleaning up parks. But we understand you may need some more motivation, so we proudly present – the Top 5 Reasons to Create a New York Cares Day Spring Team:
5. It’s March, so you’ve been hanging out exclusively indoors for…5 months now? Create a team, and make a plan to go outside 43 days from now! Baby steps!
4. It’s exactly the leverage you’ve been looking for to convince your friends to call you ‘Captain’.
3. Al Gore says there might not even be trees any more by 2017*, so you should take advantage of the opportunity to hug them now.
2. Last year’s team names included such gems as ‘bears!’, ‘President Abra-help Lincoln’, and ‘Spider Pigs’. Can you top those?
1. Trees don’t plant themselves.**
Have any more reasons? Let us know in the comments, but more importantly, create your team today.
By Kim Wilson
*This is absolutely untrue. Al Gore did not say this. But he might be thinking it? Maybe? Create a team anyway.
**Well. Kind of they do. But you should help!
February 27th, 2013
Last year, four brave staff souls headed to Staten Island to scout sites for New York Cares Day Spring. Yesterday, four more again ventured across the Verrazano Bridge. Although some of the faces changed, the goal was the same: find the best way to help parks in Staten Island clean up and get ready for spring on April 20th.
Our group met downtown at 9:00 a.m. (except for myself who came sprinting to our rented van 15 minutes late) to head to Staten Island to begin our day. Adrian Wilton, Disaster Recovery Manager and native Staten Islander did the driving, Service Events Manager Kim Wilson coordinated with our parks contacts, and Community Programs Manager, Katherine Kienitz, was on board to discuss ongoing programs. I rounded out the group as our New Media Manager to document it all.
It quickly became clear that having a born and raised Staten Islander would prove helpful both in navigation, interesting island facts, restaurant recommendations, and making connections with new Community Partners. Adrian started with our organization after Hurricane Sandy hit, as our disaster manager for the borough. In addition to running Sandy relief projects, she’s been working hard to make connections with other nonprofits so we can expand our ongoing programming and bring additional volunteers to the borough. One exciting opportunity she told us about yesterday includes building a community garden in the parking lot of the Staten Island Mall.
But to the task at hand. Our first stop was Schmul Park, which has a big trash problem. Past the baseball field is a great open space followed by woods and a pond that would be a great spot for birds and nature watching – if it wasn’t currently being mistaken for a landfill:
Read the rest of this entry »
October 22nd, 2012
Every person who works on New York Cares Day Fall has their own story. Below, one of our newest employees, Joshua Rae from the HanddsOn Tech VISTA program, tells his quest to improve a basketball court on the service day.
What a cheesy title to my blog post. But it’s true.
I got my Site Captain assignment about a month ago and was overwhelmed over where to start. But my coworkers were there to guide me, and they told me to start by meeting with my Main Contact. Then we could go over the plans for the day.
When I met with the principal at I.S. 228, he quickly explained the tasks set up for New York Cares Day Fall. They included painting the exterior fence, the hand ball wall, and the blacktop basketball lines. When I took a walk around the school examining the fence and black top our volunteers would be painting, I noticed a basketball pole without a backboard. Now I’m a sports fan myself, and I thought it would be great if some way, somehow, New York Cares volunteers could put up a brand new hoop for these students. I had a new mission.
My first task was to see if New York Cares could purchase a backboard. It turns out we had a little bit of spending money left, but the crucial question was how much would a backboard cost? And what type of backboard should I get? I had no idea. So I got in touch with Porter Athletics – the manufacturer of the other backboard at I.S. 228. Thankfully, they simplified the process and described what type of backboard I was looking for. After I told Porter Athletics the mission of New York Cares Day, they wanted to lower the price of the backboard, hoop, and net, so we could afford them! Thanks so much Porter Athletics!
The big day had arrived and I was really excited for all of my projects, but lets be honest, my passion project was the backboard. I chose a team of five volunteers from New Yorkers In Action to take on the special task. They worked along with the school’s gym teacher and janitors to put up the brand new hoop and paint the lines around it. I was so impressed. As I looked at the shiny new hoop, I tried to imagine what the middle schoolers would say on Monday. They probably would never know the work that went into their new hoop. Either way, more basketball hoops means more games which means more kids participating. A success in my eyes.
Even though Cares Day is over, you can still give back to students by participating in one of our sports programs. Sign up today to get kids moving and staying healthy!
By Joshua Rae
October 18th, 2012
This New York Cares Day Fall, all six members of our Youth Service team went above and beyond and served as Site Captains in public schools throughout the city. Three schools, 161X in the Bronx, 600M in Manhattan, and 369K in Brooklyn were chosen as youth-only sites, and hosted Youth Service Clubs from 15 of our partner schools, plus the Teen Service Team. All in all, our YS Clubs painted 20 murals, organized over a dozen classrooms, and gave a fresh coat of paint to 10 classrooms and a wrought iron fence.
We’re proud of the work they did, and grateful to the schools for hosting us. Be sure to check out some pictures of our work on the New York Cares Twitter feed!
By Dakotah West
October 16th, 2012
New York Cares Day Fall is one of our favorite days. We love seeing our volunteers come together to improve our city’s public schools. The work done in 90 public schools in all five boroughs amounts to $1 million in services. The feedback we get from volunteers, teachers, principals, and everyone else involved in the day makes the work leading involved so worth it. Below is a poem written by Connie Mejia, the principal at PS/IS 18, to show her appreciation for all the hard work done by our volunteers.
What a Difference You Have Made
New York Cares Day, Saturday, October 13, 2012
With every draft and every stroke, you joined us here today,
You rolled your sleeves, unveiled your hearts and seemed to find your way.
Your spirit shines within these walls and you’ve nurtured every space,
You etched a sense of happiness on a tiny little face.
Your time, your smile, your energy, we thank you till the end,
You managed to take notice of a new and loving friend.
Our children crave a place of joy where innocence resides,
A place to shine and take a chance with mentors by their side.
You’ve made a difference here today and you’ll never really know,
The footprints left in many hearts and the everlasting glow.
So once again I share my heart and the children say it too,
With every flower, hue and stroke, we have bound ourselves to you!
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