This past Thursday, City Year New York joined Northern Manhattan Parks Administrator Jennifer Hoppa, Councilmember Jackson, and Speaker Quinn in leading volunteers in a day of service dedicated to Mother Teresa.
Our author today is Sarah Weber of the New York Civic Engagement Team, a unique team that isn’t focused on our signature school-based service but the physical transformation of communities. She was at the Mother Teresa Service Day from start to finish. This is her reflection.
Mother Teresa was known for her compassion for others and her commitment to community service. In honor of her 100th birthday, City Year New York and Fort Tryon Park came together to bring 50 volunteers up to Washington Heights to beautify a historic corner of the park.
Overlooking the Hudson River and bordering the current Henry Hudson Parkway in what is now known as Fort
Tryon Park is the former Billings’ estate. The mansion, which once stood at the highest point of the estate, had an elegant entrance with large stone structures and a winding pathway leading up to the mansion. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. purchased the mansion and surrounding land, later donated it to the city of New York, and many of the structures remain. For the park’s 75th Anniversary, Fort Tryon is renewing this area by removing the invasive species that have taken over the surviving structures and surrounding landscape from the Billings’ estate.
This was a unique service day for the New York Civic Engagement (NYCE) team because we had the opportunity to bring incoming Corps Members and CY Alumni together as our volunteers. Serving side by side, incoming CMs and past CMs had the opportunity to talk about the service that bonds them. In true CY fashion, the Alumni were power greeted by two teams of early-starting CMs as they entered the park and walked to watch the opening programming.
After a powerful demonstration of PT and three incredibly inspiring speeches by Parks Administrator Jennifer Hoppa, Councilmember Jackson and Speaker Quinn, volunteers were ready to work.
For two and a half hours, CYNY worked alongside both Councilman Jackson and Speaker Quinn to pull out the invasive weeds that were obstructing the beauty of the area. Volunteers were eager to get to work and the excitement showed as the areas lining the entrance and pathway were quickly being transformed. This was noted by a volunteer who exclaimed “it gets cleared out so quickly!” only ten minutes into service.
Near the end of the day, Jennifer Hoppa walked the length of the service site and said to a monitoring Landscape Architect, “This looks great!” Everyone agreed.
During the closing debrief, with all 50 volunteers circled up, the Landscape Architect expressed his gratitude for the
work that was completed, noting that it would have taken him and his team months to do what the volunteers were able to accomplish in only three hours. The sense of satisfaction from the volunteers was brought to life by ending with a loud “We did it!” for the final spirit break of the day, which was the perfect ending to a great day of service.
Click here to see a photo slideshow.