This blog post is by Susan Varghese, Events and Alumni Outreach Project Leader. Follow her on Twitter here.
On Friday, the New York Civic Engagement (NYCE) team partnered with East New York Farms in Brooklyn to host a service day for Greenlight Capital. The service day mobilized 31 Greenlight employees through painting, building tables, gardening, weeding and composting.
East New York Farms is nestled in between buildings and delis on New Lots Avenue and its mission is to organize youth and adults to address food justice through sustainable agriculture and community-led economic development. East New York Farms started in the 90’s in response to decades of neglect in the community including vacancies, crime and poverty. During the opening program, Project Director David Vigil said that one of the goals of the farm was “to make healthy food more accessible.”
While the farm serves a large chunk of the community, they still have a lot of work they need done in order to maintain it and benefit from volunteer support. NYCE and Greenlight served on Friday to help complete projects that are essential in keeping the farm running and in good shape.
Sean Farrell, Chief Compliance Officer at Greenlight said, “I’ve had a really good time out here on the service day. I’m really impressed by the quality of the garden and the diversity of the produce and how well it’s been cleaned out and maintained.”
For many employees of Greenlight, this wasn’t their first service day. Jennifer Hoos has been to a few and commented, “Service days take us out of our office and bring us down into the community and remember that we’re part of a larger fabric. And,to do it along City Year corps members who contribute every single day to the community, it reminds us that we’re part of something bigger than just ourselves.” On her favorite service project, Hoos added, “I love them all – I think it’s fun when we get to be with kids in schools. It’s fun being out in a community garden – I know that kids are actually benefiting from our work here.”
While Greenlight’s office may be in a nice building on Lexington avenue, they had no qualms about getting dirty and getting the service project done. Alexandra Desbrow agreed, “ I love being able to interact and see my colleagues in a different way…how amazing they all are. We get our hands dirty and get to it and people do whatever job they need to do.”
David Einhorn*, the founder of Greenlight said he finds service projects to be fun. “We get out of the office and out of our ordinary environment. We work together as teams and on projects. We’re chit-chatting and bonding, but at the end of the day you’ve actually accomplished something – the garden is weeded, the compost is where it needs to be, the picnic table is constructed.
But external organizations, like Greenlight, aren’t the only ones who benefit from City Year, Einhorn noted. “What we’re really hopeful about is that we’ll show phenomenal improvements in drop-out rates and graduation rates over the next few years. I think it’s a really good experience for the corps members to give back, to contribute, and to have that on-the-job experience.”
*Einhorn is also well known for finishing third at the 2012 World Series of Poker – he wore his red jacket and City Year hat – and donated a portion of his winnings to City Year.
See more photos from the day on our Flickr.