It's My Park Day and Other NYC Outdoor Volunteering Opportunities for Families
[UPDATED: April 27, 2013] Recently we received an email asking if we knew about any outdoor volunteering opportunities for New York City families this spring. The timing was perfect since this Saturday, May 4 is It's My Park Day. Organized by Partnership for Parks and held twice a year in the spring and fall, It's My Park Day brings together thousands of NYC volunteers looking to help spruce up their neighborhood green spaces. It's an awesome initiative and a great way to teach your kids about the importance of giving back to your community. After all, these are the parks they play in!
There are It's My Park Day events throughout the five boroughs, and some take place on different dates in May. In addition to cleaning, weeding and other chores, many gatherings feature arts and crafts, giveaways and a celebratory atmosphere. We’ve got the details about how to get involved with It's My Park Day, as well as other ways your family can volunteer outdoors in the city this spring.
It's My Park Day – Citywide
Partnerships for Parks—a joint program of the City Parks Foundation and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation—works with various community groups to organize volunteer projects and free celebrations in neighborhood parks throughout New York City. Depending on the park, you may find yourself panting, cleaning, weeding, raking or even painting. Many sites also host free fun for participants, like performances or sports activities.
Volunteering on It's My Park Day is easy: Just browse the list of projects to find one that works for your family and then show up. Do read through the descriptions carefully though: Some projects require advance registration and not all It's My Park Day events take place on Saturday, May 4. There are lots of opportunities on Saturdays, May 11 and 18 as well.
If you're not able to participate in It's My Park Day, there are plenty of other outdoor volunteering opportunities throughout the spring and summer. Here are some organizations that frequently host family-friendly projects.
The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation's calendar allows you to search for volunteering events. Right now you'll see a lot of overlap with It's My Park Day but starting in June, there will be other opportunities. The site also has info on how you can volunteer with the Urban Park Rangers, be a Natural Areas Volunteer and other volunteer opportunities in our city's parks.
MillionTreesNYC helps people plant trees throughout the five boroughs. You can ask for a tree to be planted on your street, go to one of the organization's community tree giveaways and plant your own, or volunteer at an upcoming event.
Many parks, playgrounds and community gardens have their own community organizations that help keep them clean, safe and beautiful. Some are big, like the Central Park Conservancy, the New York Restoration Project and the Prospect Park Alliance. Others are small neighborhood groups run by involved locals, like the Brooklyn Heights Playground Committee or the Friends of Indian Hill Road Playground. If there's a park you and your kids love, google it, find out if an organization helps with its upkeep and then volunteer your services.