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

Gibson Durnford | Team Leader Spotlight

GIBSON DURNFORD

Team Leader, New York Cares

As soon as he walked through the door, right on time for opening of distribution, I felt a wave of relief to have his support on the project. Also, I saw the faces of everyone who knows him light up with a smile - the positive presence of people like him are the reason that volunteers continue to return to projects.–Angela Escobar, Fellow Team Leader

As New Yorkers head out of hibernation and into the beautiful outdoors, we’re taking a moment to honor a Team Leader who takes a sustainable approach to meeting New York City needs - in more ways than one.

Meet Gibson Durnford, a volunteer who has redefined the role of Team Leader by enriching New York Cares programs with sincerity, dependability, and expertise. While Gibson just recently celebrated his one year anniversary with New York Cares, his dedication to service has already made a lasting impression on our community. 

Gibson’s passion for sustainability is evident to his fellow volunteers but this devotion didn’t begin the moment he walked through the New York Cares doors. Much to the contrary. As the Executive Director of Sustainable Origins, a sustainable agriculture consultancy based in New York, Gibson brought with him invaluable knowledge to farm and garden volunteer projects at New York Cares. 

Just last fall, Gibson helped construct a community garden and greenhouse at Food First, despite being provided *incorrect* factory instructions. Not a screw was out of place! As a result, Food First’s pantry is able to supplement its distribution with fresh vegetables grown right on site.

In the coming year, he will serve as an integral contributor to New York Cares' Farm to Pantry program, now in its inaugural season, providing project leadership as well as helping develop urban agriculture workshops for farmers and volunteers.

In addition to innovation and intellect, Gibson brings passion, inspiration, and determination to the role of Team Leader. Avi Nocella, Gibson’s New York Cares Program Manager, highlights just a few of the ways his leadership leaves a sustainable mark on programs.

"Gibson is so passionate about the projects he attends, and his passion is infectious; more than a few of his volunteers have been inspired to become Team Leaders after working with Gibson or otherwise becoming more deeply involved with New York Cares.  Perhaps most importantly, Gibson's volunteers rave about their experience on his projects.  Routinely they tell us what a warm, welcoming, and knowledgeable leader he was and, above all, how fun he made their experience. Always keeping his cool and smiling bright when working with clients, Gibson is an exemplar as an immediate needs project Team Leader."

Fellow leader Angela Escobar (the one who initially nominated Gibson for the Spotlight), feels the same. To her, Gibson embodies the true meaning of the word “Team Leader.”

“Gibson is so passionate about the projects he attends, and his passion is infectious; more than a few of his volunteers have been inspired to become Team Leaders after working with Gibson or otherwise becoming more deeply involved with New York Cares.  Perhaps most importantly, Gibson's volunteers rave about their experience on his projects.  Routinely they tell us what a warm, welcoming, and knowledgeable leader he was and, above all, how fun he made their experience. Always keeping his cool and smiling bright when working with clients, Gibson is an exemplar as an immediate needs project Team Leader."

This all got us thinking. What inspires Gibson to lead? When we got his answer, we weren't surprised that he took this opportunity to shine the spotlight on others. 

"I am really inspired by other New York Cares Team Leaders. I have been fortunate to work with some incredible leaders on a variety of projects (like David at Added Value Composting, Jeremy and Nnamdi at Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger, Yann at Food First, Carter at Heart Share, and Angela at Golden Harvest, to name a few). They are great role models and I try to draw on their different styles and approaches to projects whenever I lead a team of volunteers.”

So thank you Gibson, for pursing your passions through a New York Cares leadership lens and spreading a sustainable mentality to service in New York City. 

  • Volunteer since: 2016
  • Team Leader since: 2016
  • Hours Spent Volunteering: 630
  • Describe in one word what being a Team Leader means to you: Service.
What are you most passionate about?

Service to others. There are many issues that I care deeply about-reducing hunger and poverty, protecting the environment and promoting agriculture but being of service to others is our greatest honor, privilege and responsibility.

Share a favorite memory from a project.
Volunteering has given me the opportunity to do some incredible things like watching the sun set over the city while gardening on a rooftop in the Bronx, building a Lego city with third graders in Coney Island, picking fresh vegetables from a garden built by New York Cares volunteers for a food pantry run by New York Cares volunteers, turning 8 tons of compost in Red Hook, building a geodesic dome with Doctors Without Borders beside the Hudson or any of a hundred other wonderful experiences.
Tell us one thing that you never leave the house without before team leading.
Rain gear!
What is your favorite thing to do in New York?

Explore! I love exploring neighborhoods, visiting new places, meeting people and trying new restaurants. New York Cares projects have introduced me to amazing experiences, places and people across the city.

Any advice?

Try new things! One of the best pieces of advice I can offer to New York Cares volunteers is to try new projects-ones that may be outside of your usual area of focus (or comfort zone). There are so many really great projects to join so mix it up from time to time!

Interested in nominating a great leader like Gibson to be featured in a future Team Leader Spotlight? Submit your nomination here.