The Daily Plant : Thursday, January 19, 2006
Partnerships For Parks Honors Top Volunteers
On January 18, Partnerships for Parks hosted an award luncheon in the Arsenal gallery to honor outstanding volunteer groups. Six awards were given out by Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation David Rivel, and Director of Partnerships for Parks Jason Schwartz—one award for each borough, and one to a Parks & Recreation employee. The honorees were as follows:
Bronx: Korean War Veterans
The Korean War Veterans have been involved with Charlton Garden for approximately two years—though Vice-Commander Disabled American Veterans, Bronx Chapter 23, was a Seasonal Parks Worker back in 1961.
The group was inspired to care for the park after they discovered it was named for Sergeant Cornelius H. Charlton, an African-American recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor and Purple Heart for his service during the Korean War and a Bronx resident when he enlisted in the Army.
The group was instrumental in obtaining funding for renovations to the park and organizing a variety of events. Last May, they—along with Congressman Jose Serrano—held a Memorial Day event in the garden, including members of the 65th Infantry Regiment (also known as the "Fighting 65th") and the 24th Regiment ("Buffalo Soldiers").
Brooklyn: Friends of Nehemiah Park
A group of concerned citizens became Friends of Nehemiah Park in order to improve their local park for the neighborhood children and to encourage community involvement. Last spring, the group volunteered for the first time during It’s My Park! Day, and repeated their performance in the fall—painting benches and poles, raking leaves, removing invasive plants, and planting bulbs. They also organized a post-cleanup event where local children read original poetry about "their" park.
Though the group is relatively new, they have many goals—including lobbying Council Member Charles Barron for the funds to renovate the basketball courts, attending many of the workshops offered through Partnerships’ Technical Assistance Program, and publishing a newsletter.
Manhattan: Rose Court Tenant Association
The Rose Court Tenant Association was formed in 1992, and began volunteering to maintain street trees in the summer of 2004 after becoming concerned by the high asthma rate in its Upper Manhattan neighborhood. The members believe that contributing factors include excessive traffic and proximity to a bus depot—and that helping trees thrive can help alleviate the problem. They now maintain the street trees along Broadway from Academy Street to West 215th Street, and on Academy Street between Broadway and Vermilyea Avenue. They dug up the bricks that surrounded every tree, put down new soil and compost, and relaid the bricks. The group inspects and waters the trees and removes litter from the tree-pits on an ongoing basis. They also repainted all the tree pits at the Dyckman Marina, regularly join Friends of Payson Avenue in It’s My Park! Day cleanups in Inwood Hill Park, and is currently expanding volunteer efforts to the 215th Street Steps on Broadway.
Queens: Astoria Residents Reclaiming Our World (ARROW)
ARROW was founded in 1991 by local residents determined to begin recycling their household waste, and was originally called Astoria Residents Recycling Our Waste. With the advent of City-sponsored recycling, ARROW renamed itself and refocused its energy towards creating a community garden.
From 1995 to 1996, the group transformed an area that was piled with used restaurant equipment and overrun with rats into a thriving garden filled with trees, shrubs, hundreds of flower bulbs, and assorted vegetables. Active programming soon followed, including pottery and gardening workshops, storytelling, and a harvest fair. ARROW continues to serve its community—most recently, by opening a full-service Computer Resource Center last fall.
Staten Island: New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference is a federation of more than 95 hiking clubs and environmental organizations and 10,000 individuals. The group is dedicated to building and maintaining marked hiking trails and protecting related open space in the bi-state region
The Conference’s Metro Area Trails Committee has been actively maintaining the Staten Island Greenbelt for many years. At least four times of year, volunteers maintain the trails by picking litter, removing invasives, and pruning back growth. They also help train and supervise other volunteers, including Boys and Girl Scouts during It’s My Park! Days and National Trails Days. The group also acts as the "eyes and ears" for the Greenbelt, by informing Parks whenever they encounter dumping and erosion problems.
Honored Parkie: Vinnie Laino, PS, Brooklyn Park District 10
Vinnie began his Parks career in 1985 as a City Parks Worker in District 12 in the Bronx; he was transferred to his home borough of Brooklyn a year later. For the past eight years, his job has given him to opportunity to work with The Advocates for Services for the Blind and Multi-Handicapped on its annual "Thank God for Softball" event, which serves as a fundraiser for the organization. Vinnie accepts the delivery of event supplies and stores them; he also oversees all field preparation. Maureen Stramka of The Advocates nominated Vinnie for this award, explaining that he honor’s the group’s "every request," and describing Vinnie and PRM Art DeCesario as "most helpful."
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"Genius all over the world stands hand in hand,
and one shock of recognition runs the whole circle round."