“Hello daahlins!” was the first thing Loretta said to our group of New York Cares volunteers on Saturday morning. “It’s so good to see you again!” she said, recognizing the leader of our group and some other return volunteers, as we entered the gates of the Clayton Williams Community Garden in Harlem. As an organizer and garden member, this is Loretta’s domain.
Two weeks prior, I was sitting at the New York Cares orientation with nearly fifty other new sign ups, learning about the wide array of possibilities provided through the New York Cares network. In a city where the asphalt sometimes feels a little too hot, the buildings a little too tall, it was the parks projects that had the greatest pull for me.
Within minutes of arriving at the Community Garden, our group set out to build a brick patio for a grill, paint the shed and benches, and I began rebuilding and painting a beastly old picnic table. As I took the table apart board by board and hammered out the ill-fitting nails, the entire city of New York slowed down. For that hour or so I was simply in a garden hitting a nail with a hammer, enjoying the conversation with a group of likeminded volunteers. The sweat poured out, and the dirt stained, but no one cared. By two o’clock, when the work was completed, I had to force myself to leave. Click here to see photos of the day.
While our group of six that day in Harlem, or the 50 in my orientation can only do so much, 50,000 can get BIG things done. And that’s just what New York Cares is trying to do in the next year — mobilize 50,000 volunteers to help make a collective impact.
If you’re interested in volunteering in your community and improving your city and yourself in the process, visit NewYorkCares.org or call 212-228-5000 to learn what you can do.