Record Volunteer Attendance at It’s My Park Day 2017

April 17, 2017

On May 20, 2017, dedicated Park-loving volunteers rolled up their sleeves for It’s My Park Day. In honor of Prospect Park’s 150th anniversary, Prospect Park Alliance and REI recruited over 100 dedicated Park-loving volunteers to help care for their favorite green space with brooms, shovels, rakes and trash grabbers. Efforts focused on Lookout Hill, where volunteers removed 46 bags of invasive weeds and cleaned up over 4,000 feet of trails. Volunteers of all ages as well as local community groups came out for this great day of service.

“People love getting involved,” says Marcia Williams, Volunteer Program Project Coordinator. “Volunteering in the Park teaches people to give back to the community, and they feel good about it!” In 2016, roughly 4,000 Prospect Park Alliance volunteers contributed nearly 20,000 hours of service in the Park. “This volunteer group makes a huge difference, and thanks to their efforts, Prospect Park has really changed a lot in the last three decades,” says Williams. “REI and the Prospect Park Alliance have long partnered on It’s My Park! Day because the event has proven to provide a meaningful opportunity for the local community to work together to maintain this Brooklyn gem of 585 acres,” says Mick Minard, a member of REI’s Outdoor Programs and Outreach Team. “REI and The REI Foundation have invested in organizations across the country that share our goal of creating, improving and sustaining access to inspiring outdoor places. REI and the Alliance share a commitment to ensuring access to open space, supporting connected communities, and promoting health and wellness by helping more people share more time outdoors.”

Ready to get outdoors and help Prospect Park? Prospect Park Alliance offers a variety of volunteer opportunities. Register online or call (718) 287-3400 for more information.

Martin Seck

Prospect Park Volunteers Honored at Annual Brunch

March 16, 2017

On March 4, Prospect Park Alliance celebrated more than 100 committed Prospect Park volunteers and community leaders at the 29th Annual Volunteer Recognition Brunch. This cherished tradition offers the Alliance a chance to thank its exceptional Volunteer Corps, and honor those in the community who have gone above and beyond in their service to Prospect Park.

Prospect Park Alliance President Sue Donoghue and Volunteer Director Jessica Jamhoury were joined by Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Marty Maher and Assembly Member Robert Carroll in thanking the volunteers for their service. In total 16 volunteers were presented with awards commemorating their contributions to Prospect Park.

In 2016, nearly 4,000 volunteers contributed nearly 20,000 hours of service in the Park. Volunteers work in all areas of the Park on projects ranging from the beautification of the Vale of Cashmere and the Rose Garden, to woodland restoration and horticultural projects, to general Park upkeep including raking, sweeping, path maintenance and litter removal. The work of these volunteers is essential, and their dedication is visible in every corner of the Park.

View pictures of the event!

Learn more about volunteering in Prospect Park, and to sign-up for one of our upcoming volunteer events.

Bianca Nelson

Corporate Volunteer Program: AllianceBernstein

February 16, 2017

Take it from the team at AllianceBernstein—weeding, painting and planting in Prospect Park can be a ton of fun. “Working in the Third Street Playground, my team scoured rust, weeded, painted a fence… it was awesome,” said Catherine Magyera, Director of Global/Multi-Sector Fixed Income. “I sit at a desk most of the time, so this project was really different from my day-to-day.”

AllianceBernstein is a participant in the Prospect Park Alliance Corporate Volunteer Program, an initiative that pairs corporate teams with volunteer opportunities in the Park. These outings serve as unique, active team-building opportunities, and the fruits of these labors make a real difference in the Brooklyn community. Magyera recalled one particularly enthusiastic community member: “As we were finishing up at the playground, a little boy came by and asked us what we were doing. I told him, ‘don’t worry, we’re making your favorite place to play even better’ and his face just lit up.”

“When you’re working in the Park, alongside colleagues planting or weeding, it’s a great way to work together outside of the formal hierarchy of the office,” said Lucy Spalton, CFA and Vice President at AB, “and it’s much more rewarding and fun than you might think. This type of work can’t happen without a lot of manpower, and with a group of Corporate Volunteers you can get a lot done.”

Indeed, the Park’s 585-acres require constant attention, and Corporate Volunteers are an invaluable resource, providing much-needed additional support for Alliance staff. “Resources are stretched thin in the Park, and often the projects undertaken by our Corporate Volunteers wouldn’t be completed otherwise,” said Sue Donoghue, Prospect Park Alliance President, “this work has a huge impact on the Park and our visitor experience.”

The Prospect Park Alliance Corporate Volunteer Program offers a variety of packages that can be tailored for all group sizes and ages. “In our years with the Park, we’ve been able to pick great projects that we can get our team excited about, and that makes it easy for me as a leader,” said Magyera. Added Spalton, “the Alliance works with us on finding a common goal, on having a project that feels rewarding, and at the end we have a great time working along side the staff.”

Learn more about how your company can spend a day in the Park having fun and giving back to Brooklyn’s Backyard

c. NYC Parks Department

Alliance Participates in NYC Tree Mapping

November 17, 2016

Last year, Prospect Park Alliance partnered with NYC Parks in support of TreesCount! 2015, a citywide street tree census and an ambitious effort to better care for our leafy neighbors. The Alliance committed to mapping 100 block edges for the count, and recruited and trained a dedicated group of 192 volunteers to examine street trees, identify the diversity of species and look for signs of tree health and stewardship using mapping software. 

After about a dozen TreesCount! 2015 expeditions, the Alliance succeeded in mapping 3,412 trees around the entire perimeter of the Park and surrounding neighborhoods. Curious about the amount of air pollutants removed by the London Plane tree on the corner of 10th street and Prospect Park West? 3 pounds. How about the number of trees in all of Windsor Terrace? 2,188. The interactive map created by NYC Parks can give you a general snapshot of the trees in your area, or provide you with granular data about the health of the American elm outside your window.

Thanks to this census, we can say that the monetary value of these shady neighbors is over $111 million annually, which includes values for intercepted stormwater, energy conserved and carbon dioxide reduction. Which is to say nothing of the intangible benefit one gets from walking down a tree-lined street this time of year as the colors change. 

“The Alliance was proud to participate in this endeavor, and thanks our dedicated Volunteer Corps, as well as NYC Parks, the Park Slope Civic Council, and our partners on the Community Committee for their help with this project,” said Alliance President Sue Donoghue. 

Take a closer look at the trees in your area. 

PPA Profiles: Bart Chezar

August 17, 2015

Bart Chezar is a Brooklyn native. As an active member of the Prospect Park Alliance Volunteer Corps, he’s extremely involved in the beautification of Prospect Park. In addition to pulling weeds and laying mulch with the Alliance’s Thursday Volunteer Corps, Bart has also played an integral role in reintroducing an important piece of ecological history into the Park, the return of the American chestnut tree.

Bart’s work with the Alliance and his interest in reviving the American chestnut tree began shortly after his retirement in 2000. Formerly a Research and Development Engineer for the New York Power Authority, he has maintained a keen passion for restoring the environmental heritage of New York City. In 2004, he met Anne Wong, Prospect Park Alliance’s former Director of Landscape Management, who invited him to take part in a chestnut planting experiment.

Over a century ago, the American chestnut population was devastated by a vicious fungus known as chestnut blight. The tree that was once the most prolific species east of the Mississippi was decimated in just a few decades. The blight would not allow the chestnut trees to successfully pollinate. When Anne asked Bart to help plant a few chestnuts in the Park, the survival of the samplings was a long shot. For nearly a decade the chestnut trees in Prospect Park were able to resist the deadly fungus, but in early 2012 they began to show signs of blight.

In response, the Alliance teamed up with the American Chestnut Foundation, an organization working to find a solution. Alongside Alliance arborists, Bart helped to plant and monitor a new hybrid species found to be resistant to blight in woodland areas of the Park, including the landscapes surrounding the Picnic House (where you may notice yellow plastic coverings on trees along the path from the Tennis House to the Picnic House) and also the Peninsula. The hope is that the new blight-resistant chestnuts will pollinate with the older species planted a decade ago. Although it’s too soon to be sure, recent findings indicate that the program is working. Bart’s efforts with the Alliance and the American Chestnut Foundation have successfully cultivated the first Brooklyn-born chestnut seedlings in over 100 years. 

Bart’s passion for reviving New York’s native ecosystem did not begin, nor end, with his work saving the American chestnut. He was the first to be granted a permit to reintroduce oysters in New York Harbor, a project that is continued by the Environmental Protection Agency and Corps of Engineers. He has also worked tirelessly to bring back Osprey to the area. He even started an “eco pier” in Sunset Park where visitors can become acquainted with the inter-tidal habitats that once surrounded the borough.

Learn more about volunteering in Prospect Park. Or give back to the Park by adopting a commemorative tree.

c. Paul Martinka

PPA Profiles: Volunteers

March 16, 2015

Volunteers are essential to the Alliance’s maintenance efforts. This month we had a chat with a few of our most committed members. 

Prospect Park has never looked better. The Prospect Park Alliance couldn’t have done it without the help of our amazing Volunteer Corps. Each week hundreds of people donate their time and efforts to making Brooklyn’s urban treasure clean and healthy. The annual Volunteer Appreciate Awards is our way of recognizing some of the most committed volunteers. This month we profiled a few members of the Prospect Park volunteer family. Read the full profiles here.

PPA Profiles: Shanny Tan

January 12, 2015

Since its founding in 1987, the Prospect Park Alliance has grown from a grassroots organization to an internationally recognized leader in urban parks management. Its acclaimed volunteer program, which engages more than 4,400 volunteers who provide nearly 22,500 hours of service each year, has recently attracted the attention of Singapore’s National Parks Board. Over the last year, the Alliance hosted two of its staff, including Park Maintainer Shanny Tan, who manages volunteers in Bishan Park, a 153-acre linear urban park in central Singapore that features a 3-kilometer meandering river enlivened by pond gardens and river plains. 

Shanny joined the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about creating a culture of volunteerism at Bishan Park, which hosts a number of school volunteer groups but would like to increase individual park stewardship. She spent her time on a variety of projects, working alongside volunteer program staff. She took a leadership role managing the weekly Thursday Volunteer Corps, and also the recently launched Junior Volunteer Corps and Volunteer Leader programs. Shanny also worked closely with the Alliance’s Director of Volunteer Programs, Jessica Jamhoury, to develop training materials and help streamline operations.   

Shanny explains, “One of the main reasons we approached the Prospect Park Alliance is to learn more about engaging communities. My colleague Nanthini Elamgovan, who joined me for this program, visited New York many years ago and learned about the success of its volunteer program. We would like to encourage active volunteerism in Bishan Park in order to forge a stronger connection between the park and its visitors.”

The National Parks Board is an organization set up by the Singapore government to improve the island’s park system, and is currently launching a diverse volunteer program that includes conservation, gardening, guided tours, and guest services. “I am always so touched by how much people care about Prospect Park,” Shanny said. “It is so beautiful, but it’s really about the people. The volunteers really form true friendships forged through their love for this wonderful place.”

Learn more about volunteering in Prospect Park, or if you are with a park group that is interested in being mentored by the Alliance contact us at [email protected].

c. Martin Seck

Alliance Launches Fight the Phrag

August 1, 2014

The Prospect Park Alliance and more than 100 volunteers from Goldman Sachs came together on August 1 to launch Fight the Phrag, a new campaign to remove an invasive species of wetland grass that has dominated the shoreline of Brooklyn’s only lake—an important wildlife habitat and scenic destination in Prospect Park.

Phragmites grows densely along the Lake’s shoreline, up to a height of 18 feet, so removing this hardy species is no easy task. Led by the Alliance’s Landscape Management crew, volunteers used black plastic landscaping fabric to tamp down the tall grass, denying it of sunlight and forcing it to use its reserved energy. Once the sheeting is removed, the Alliance will install native plantings to create new habitat for wildlife.

Goldman Sachs is a longtime supporter of the Alliance’s restoration efforts, funding a range of projects and providing thousands of volunteer efforts through Community TeamWorks, the firm’s global volunteer initiative that allows people to take a day out of the office to connect and volunteer with local non-profit organizations.

“The Goldman Sachs team is thrilled to be here to support this initiative” says Peter Dowling, Associate at Goldman Sachs. “Through great initiatives like Fight the Phrag, our people get a chance to work hard as a team to make a difference in the community. It is great to see the results at the end of day.”

Fight the Phrag is the latest phase of the Alliance’s long-term revitalization plan to restore Prospect Park’s woodlands and natural areas. The Alliance has restored the Ravine, the last remaining forest in Brooklyn, as well as its historic waterways, including waterfalls, pools and rustic bridges.

Fight the Phrag initiative will continue this month through the Weekend Woodland Corps. Sign up for the August 16 or 23 session, or donate to the Alliance to help support this effort.

PPA Profiles: Daphne Dixon

April 1, 2014

Daphne Dixon has been a dedicated part of the Prospect Park Alliance since she started serving as a volunteer in 2012. In recognition of her service, the Alliance recently honored her with the 2014 Certificate of Appreciation at its annual Volunteer Recognition Brunch.

A resident of East Flatbush, Daphne became a volunteer because she wanted to get involved in her community. There are many places she could have devoted her time and energy, but Prospect Park was lucky enough to be her pick. She was first involved in the Parks Committee of Community Board 17 but then one day she decided that she “wanted to do more than be on a committee; she wanted to be hands-on.”

In 2012, Daphne began volunteering once a week at the Lefferts Historic House, the 18th-century Dutch Colonial farmstead and museum operated by the Prospect Park Alliance in partnership with the City. Her favorite duties include weeding the potato patches, planting in the teaching gardening, and helping out with the doughnut-making demonstrations. On days that the museum is closed, Daphne assists the maintenance crew by clearing leaf litter and debris from the lawns and trails. Jessica Jamhoury, Director of the Volunteer Department says, “It takes volunteers like Daphne to truly spread passion for the outdoors to Brooklyn’s youth. The community grows stronger everytime she visits Lefferts Historic House.”

When she isn’t devoting her time beautifying her beloved green space, Daphne enjoys “whatever catches her fancy” in the Park. This summer she plans to bring her grandson fishing and attend the concerts at the Bandshell.

Do you want to get hands-on in Prospect Park?
Find out more information about volunteer activities in the Park.
For those interested in volunteering with the Alliance’s education programs, join us for an orientation on April 9.

Alliance Launches Junior Volunteer Corps

March 3, 2014

Spring is an ideal time of year for young people to help keep Prospect Park beautiful. This March and April, the Prospect Park Alliance is launching a new program called Junior Volunteer Corps to encourage volunteerism in young people.

Children will learn the importance of giving back to the community while making a meaningful difference in the same Park where they learn, grow and play. “When it comes to raking leaves and clearing small debris, children are some of the Park’s most productive volunteers,” says Veronica Horvath, an Environmental Youth Services Coordinator at the Prospect Park Alliance.

Families and elementary-aged groups are encouraged to participate. To accommodate multiple neighborhoods, Junior Volunteer Corps will take place in different locations throughout Prospect Park on four weekends this March and April. Participants are encouraged to pre-register online.

Planning on taking part in the program? Share your experience with us on Facebook or Instagram.

The Prospect Park Alliance works with over 4,000 volunteers who give approximately 25,000 hours of service annually. The spring season of the volunteer program is just getting started! Learn about the wide range of programs for volunteers of all ages, and also for corporate groups.  Learn more about volunteering in the Park.