ConSERVE NYC Kicks Off a National Weekend of Service for MLK Day


In Harlem, volunteers brave rain and snow to continue a legacy of service.

SCA volunteers braved rain, sleet, and snow at January’s ConSERVE NYC event in Manhattan – and kept going strong! The project was an auspicious start to a weekend of SCA service events nationwide to mark the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service.

Despite the intermittent showers, 80 volunteers gathered at historic Morningside Park in Harlem – just a few blocks from where Dr. King was autographing books when he became the victim of a first assassination attempt in 1958. After taking a moment to honor Dr. King’s memory at the start of the project, volunteers picked up shovels, rakes, and wheelbarrows and set out to carry on Dr. King’s service legacy.

Working in teams around the park, participants raked leaves, cleared paths, and mulched horticulture beds to prevent erosion and salt contamination. By lunchtime, participants had mulched 3000 sq ft, spread 15 cubic yards of wood chips, and cleared 10 cubic yards of leaf litter. A pilot group also conducted visitor use surveys at several park entrances, gathering data which will help agency staff plan for the park’s future.

“I am so grateful that SCA chose our park and helped us to realize today’s project,” said Terese Flores of NYC Parks. “My staff were surprised that the volunteers achieved as much as they did despite this weather, and honored that SCA attracted so many people who enthusiastically contributed their time.”

Participants included AmeriCorps members from West Harlem Group Assistance and SCA’s own Hudson Valley Corps, as well as employees of Accenture and members of the NYPD Explorers of the 20th Precinct. Students from Bryant High School, Stuyvesant High School, St. Joseph’s College, and Global Kids also joined in the event.

Owen Smith, a student at Stuyvesant, wasn’t bothered by the wintry weather. “Today’s event was a lot of fun,” he declared, his hood drawn up tight against the cold. “I would love to do more!”

“Of course we came out!” said Sam Willner, an SCA alum who has served at the last several ConSERVE NYC events alongside his mom Ruth. “We’re your regulars! It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or snowing or what… We’ll be here!”

This dedication to service – exhibited in NYC and around the country this weekend by hundreds of SCA volunteers – is a fitting tribute to the legacy of Dr. King.

— Ann Pedtke, SCA Marketing Outreach Coordinator

Read more about SCA’s nationwide commemoration of MLK Day.

See more photos from Saturday’s event at Morningside Park.

As part of the ConSERVE NYC initiative, SCA will host public service events each month to engage the conservation community and build resiliency in New York City’s public lands. Register now for the next event on Saturday, February 15th, at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.