Small Steps Make a Big Difference

Today’s guest blogger is Helena Fiore who currently serves as a senior corps Service Leader on the New York Civic Engagement (NYCE) team. On the NYCE team, Helena serves as the Operations Coordinator where she is responsible for the supplies and logistics for all of our physical service events. Last week, she supported the Comcast Cares Day and wanted to write a blog on the event!

On April 21st, 2012, Comcast Employees all over the country volunteered to beautify and transform their communities for an event called Comcast Cares Day. In New York City, Comcast and NBC Universal partnered with City Year to provide much needed service to a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) housing development called Manhattanville Houses. The Manhattanville Houses hosts six 20-story buildings with 1,272 apartments, housing an estimated 2,756 residents. Within this complex, residents have access to a day care facility, children’s community center, and a senior center.

For many volunteers, this was their first experience working with City Year New York. Many volunteers were inspired by the energy and positivity that the City Year Corps Members brought to the day. One volunteer expressed, “everyone at City Year was great to work with.”  On top of the inspiration that City Year brought to the day, volunteers started the morning with a powerful opening program.  The day started with words from the Emmy award winning host George Oliphant, of NBC’s George to the Rescue, Michael Jack, President and General Manger of NBC New York. Following the speakers from NBC, volunteers heard from two special community representatives. Commissioner Margarita Lopez, New York City Housing Authority, and Council Member Robert Jackson spoke about the Manhattanville Development, and the importance of being involved within the community.

Photo courtesy of NBC New York

After such a wonderful opening program and taking in the beautiful weather, the volunteers were excited to start and complete service.  City Year corps members led Comcast and NBC Universal volunteers through garden and painting projects and they worked hard to beautify the NYCHA grounds.  After a whole morning’s worth of hard work, volunteers built 9 new garden beds for the residents and planted 90 vegetable plants. Later this year residents will have the opportunity to harvest lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, and peppers. In addition to vegetable gardens, volunteers added mulch around 20 trees, planted 20 flowers, and provided general landscaping all around the Manhattanville baseball field. To add to the landscaped area surrounding the baseball field, volunteers painted a large wall mural. The most inspiring project was the beautification that occurred in the playground space. With the help of 16 gallons of paint, the volunteers painted the surrounding walls. What used to be a dull space was transformed into an inspiring place to play, with murals of children playing different sports. Volunteers painted large blacktop graphics including a  map of the United States of America, a hopscotch court, a maze and a four square court.

Photo courtesy of NBC New York

The volunteers completed a lot of work. When asked if they enjoyed the event, one NBC Universal volunteer commented, “It was great to meet new colleagues and paint a playground for children. We took a drab playground and brought it to life. Great Day.” We certainly feel the same way and want to thank Comcast and NBC Universal for partnering with us for Comcast Cares Day as well as NYCHA for hosting the event. We appreciate all the volunteers, corps members, and staff who committed to serving together on this day and completing such wonderful projects for the Manhattanville Houses. I think this event is best summed up by this quote from a volunteer, “This experience was not only personally rewarding, but proved how even the smallest steps and endeavors make a big difference in the community.”

To check out all the pictures from the day, click here.