370 Volunteers Serve Urban Parks
In celebration of Earth Day and National Park Week, SCA brought together 370 volunteers in New York City for a Find Your Park Day of Service at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island.
Fort Wadsworth, part of Gateway National Recreation Area and one of the oldest military fortifications in the country, has guarded the entrance to New York Harbor for hundreds of years.
However, the historic fort and surrounding park lands have faced many challenges — including battering by Superstorm Sandy, vandalism by graffiti artists, encroaching invasives, and the accumulation of trash and debris from the many ships that pass by each day under the Verrazano Bridge. In celebration of Earth Day, hundreds of volunteers set out to restore Staten Island’s own National Park.
Serving with US military veterans from The Mission Continues, volunteers worked to reopen a 7500-foot trail weaving through stone arches and historic cannon mounts. Meanwhile, other project groups cleared 3 tons of debris from the beach and donned white coverall suits to repaint a 6000-square-foot retaining wall that had been marred by graffiti. (“Who you gonna call?” joked SCA Conservation Leadership Corps member Kelly Finn: “GHOST BUSTERS!”)
SCA welcomed local Staten Island residents while running free shuttles from the Staten Island Ferry to accommodate volunteers from other boroughs. Over three-quarters of the day’s participants reported visiting Fort Wadsworth for the very first time — while almost half had never before set foot on Staten Island. Snapping selfies with sweeping backdrops of the Verrazano Bridge and the distant skyline of Manhattan, newcomers were glad they made the trip. “Staten Island is so beautiful!” said Sneha Singh, a high school student who lives in Queens and traveled nearly two hours to take part in the event. “Now I want to see more of it.”
Special thanks to American Express, Gateway National Recreation Area, National Parks of New York Harbor, The Mission Continues, YMCA of Greater New York, and all of our partners who joined us for service:
AMERICORPS MEMBERS from AmeriCorps NCCC, FEMA Corps, and SCA’s Hudson Valley Corps; US MILITARY VETERANS from The Mission Continues; EMPLOYEE VOLUNTEERS from American Express and MUFG Union Bank; COMMUNITY GROUPS from Catholic Big Sisters & Big Brothers, Colorado State University Alumni, DYCD YMI Ravenswood, Flushing Y Beacon Center @ J.H.S. 189, National Parks Conservation Association, National Recreation and Parks Association, North Shore Waterfront Conservancy, Two Bridges Community Center, YMCA Global Teens, YMCA Teens Take the City, and Youth Healthy Living Initiative; and STUDENT VOLUNTEERS from Baruch College, Brookdale Community College, City College of New York, College of Staten Island, Cooper Union, Hunter College, Manhattan College, NYU Law School, Pace University, Queens College, Stony Brook University, Wagner College, William Paterson University, Bayside High School, Bedford Academy, Brooklyn High School of Law and Technology, Brooklyn Tech High School, Columbia Prep, Curtis High School, East West School of International Studies, Emma Lazarus High School, Flushing International High School, Francis Lewis High School, Greene Hill School, Hillcrest High School, International High School at Lafayette, LaGuardia High School, McKee Career and Technical High School, Millennium Brooklyn High School, MS 167 (Wagner Middle School), PS 116, Queens Metropolitan High School, Robert F. Kennedy Community High School, School of the Future, St. Joseph Hill Academy, Susan E. Wagner High School, Tottenville High School, Townsend Harris High School, and William C. Bryant High School.
See more photos from the event on SCA’s NYC Facebook page.
Register now for SCA’s next Find Your Park Day of Service in NYC for National Trails Day on Saturday, June 4th, 2016.