Celebrating MLK Day Through Service in NYC


Ambassador Samantha Power Joins SCA Volunteers to ConSERVE NYC for MLK Day

In honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service, SCA rallied almost 250 volunteers for our largest service event to date in NYC — joined by special guest U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.

On the waterfront of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Ambassador Power and her five-year-old son worked side by side with SCA volunteers at East River Park, spreading wood chips and recycled Christmas tree mulch to improve soil saturated by salt during Superstorm Sandy. After storm surge flooded the park, hundreds of trees were lost — but nutrients added to the soil will give surviving trees a much-needed boost to get them through the winter season.

Elsewhere in the park, volunteers surveyed the health of existing trees, collected visitor data at park entrances, and gathered and stacked stone blocks uprooted by Sandy to be used for new borders along park paths. By lunchtime, SCA volunteers had surveyed 150 trees, moved 1,100 blocks (or 11 tons of stone), and distributed 90 cubic yards of mulch (or nine dump truck loads!)

The project was SCA’s third this year at East River Park. NYC Parks Manhattan Borough Commissioner William T. Castro joined volunteers to celebrate the partnership. “This work would take our staff months to complete,” he said. “We really appreciate all that SCA has done for the health of the park.”

Along with special guests Commissioner Castro and Ambassador Power, participants included AmeriCorps members from the Children’s Aid Society, LISC, and SCA’s Hudson Valley Corps; employee volunteers from JPMorgan Chase; student groups from Columbia University, Stony Brook University, Lehman College, City College of New York, Ramapo College of New Jersey, the Academy of Government and Law, Bard High School, Benjamin Cardozo High School, Bronx High School of Science, Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Forest Hills High School, Harry S. Truman High School, Jericho High School, Millennium High School, Park East High School, Stuyvesant High School, William C. Bryant High School, and the Urban Assembly School for Green Careers; and community groups from the Big Apple Church, buildOn, the Fourth Universalist Society, Global Kids, Hope Worldwide, and the TEAK Fellowship. 

SCA also welcomed new members of our NYC Conservation Leadership Corps (CLC), a program that will engage high school students in conservation service and green career exploration throughout the school year. As part of their first day in the field, SCA CLC members had the opportunity to work side-by-side with Ambassador Power and her five-year-old son, guiding them in restoring the waterfront. “I want my son to grow up to be like all of you,” the Ambassador told members at the end of the day. 

For Ambassador Power, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and globally recognized human rights advocate, improving community green spaces and celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. were a natural pairing. “When young people come to me and ask what they can do about the world’s problems, I wish I could give them all a hands-on project like this,” she said. “But these issues are all connected. Global activism starts with advocating for your own communities.”


See more photos from SCA’s MLK Day event at East River Park.

Stay tuned for details on the next ConSERVE NYC event at www.thesca.org/events.