250 Volunteers Plant 1500 Trees to Celebrate Those Who Serve
In honor of Veterans Day, SCA brought together over 250 volunteers in New York City for a Find Your Park Day of Service at Jacob Riis Park in Queens.
Jacob Riis, known as the “People’s Beach,” was decimated by ﬂooding during Hurricane Sandy and was one of the first sites of focus for SCA’s Sandy Recovery efforts beginning in 2013. This fall, four years after the storm, the park made a fitting site for the final NYC Find Your Park Day of Service of 2016 celebrating the National Park Service Centennial year in partnership with American Express.
Working with NPS staff, hundreds of volunteers set out to plant 1500 tree seedlings in the North Forty — an area where native dune forest has been struggling against invasive species ever since Sandy. Meanwhile, other groups helped clean up the dilapidated handball courts at Jacob Riis and removed three truckloads of drifted sand from the park playgrounds and promenade. Volunteers also worked to improve one mile of new bike path along the shoreline of Jamaica Bay, which will become part of a network of trails to allow pedestrians and cyclists to regain access to their urban waterfront.
While many volunteers were local to south Brooklyn or the Rockaways, two-thirds of participants were visiting Jacob Riis for the first time. “We live in Bergen County in New Jersey,” said James Bancolo, who volunteered with his wife, son, and daughter. “But we saw this and we thought, it’s a beautiful day, why not? My wife and I feel it’s important to get our kids involved in service.”
With participants gathered together on the beach, NPS Volunteer Coordinator Keith White presented SCA with a 2016 Centennial Volunteer Challenge Award, recognizing a year of service partnership in celebration of the National Park Service Centennial. This event closed a year of service projects during which SCA brought over 1500 volunteers (including more than 1000 first-time visitors) to New York City’s National Parks.
SCA invited US Military veterans and families — as well as those who served with NYPD, FDNY, or AmeriCorps — to step up and be recognized for service to their country and communities.
“My son served in the army for three years, and he’s just come home,” said volunteer Gene Bonaventure. “He is a veteran now, and seeing this event with so many people celebrating veterans — I just appreciate that so much.”
Special thanks to American Express, Gateway National Recreation Area, National Parks Conservation Association, and all our community partners who joined us in service:
Alpha Phi Omega, American Littoral Society, Baccalaureate School for Global Education, Barnard College, Brooklyn College, Bryant High School, BSGE, buildOn, City College, Collier High School, EBC High School, Forest Hills High School, Harlem YMCA, Harry S. Truman High School, Hofstra University, Hunter College, InterExchange, JetBlue, Kingsborough Community College, LaGuardia High School, Merrick Avenue Middle School, New York University, Old Mill Road School, Oregon State University, PricewaterhouseCoopers, PS/MS 114, Queens College, Scholars Academy, SJU Latinas, St. John’s University, Summer Search, William Patterson University, York College
See more photos from the event on SCA’s NYC Facebook page.
Stay tuned at www.thesca.org/events for updates on SCA’s next ConSERVE NYC event to honor MLK Day on January 14th.