Meets pressing community needs by mobilizing caring New Yorkers in volunteer service.

Greetings from Staten Island, New York

A lot of organizing goes into our service days. We start building the website, ordering supplies, and visiting sites months before the actual event. On New York Cares Day Spring, 5,000 volunteers will clean up 80 parks, community gardens, beaches, and green spaces. But how do we decide which parks to go to? How do we know how many volunteers are needed? What kind of supplies should we order for each park?

I for one, had no idea – and I work here. As the digital marketing manager, I tend to mostly stay in my office on the computer updating the website, sending marketing emails, and updating our social media pages. Or as I like to call it, creating the Internet. So when I heard my coworkers were going around Staten Island for a day to visit 4 different potential site, I decided to tag along, and see what goes on outside the office.

Our day started at 10:00 a.m. in Brooklyn, where Seth Shapiro, one of our community program managers, picked us up and drove us over the Verrazano Bridge into Staten Island. Along the way, we discussed what we would review with the park staff and the supplies we needed for our site visits. Kate Kinsey and Kim Wilson, two of our service events managers, decided to take turns at every site asking questions and keeping notes. We arrived at our first site, Willowbrook Park, early and were able to spend some time bonding with the local wildlife.

The staff at Willowbrook came well-prepared with a list contact information, a list of supplies, and ideas for projects to complete on New York Cares Day Spring. Willowbrook is part of a large community of parks, and there are a lot of trails to clear in preparation for the busy summer months.

Our next stop was Conference House Park, where we headed down to the beach and visited the south pole.

Apparently, the southern-most section of New York is located here. Who knew?

The beach is beautiful, but could definitely use a sprucing up by our volunteers. We discussed how many people would be needed to clean up the beach on April 21st, and how many park employees would be available to direct people on the day of the event. Seth also discussed the possibility of setting up ongoing projects.

After another successful visit, we were back in the car and headed off to the other side of the island. After a quick lunch, we found ourselves at Skyline Playground, which had a beautiful view of lower Manhattan. We jotted down some quick notes about buses and paint supplies, then rushed off to our next, and final visit of the day.

We arrived at South Beach around 3:30 and were greeted to a beautiful view of the Verrazano Bridge, right back where we started. Our contact person here informed us that a big project would be cleaning up sections under the board walk, which get a lot of litter during the off season. After a few more questions, we called it a day and headed home. (Check out all the pictures from the day on our Flickr account).

It was nice to get out of the office and see all of the thought and planning involved in New York Cares Day Spring for myself. It’s sometimes hard for me to picture how projects and service days actually get organized and accomplished. I have a whole new respect for my colleagues that make this happen every day.

We’ll be finalizing all of our sites soon, so make sure you sign up today for New York Cares Day Spring if you haven’t already!

By Susan Torres

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