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 info@prospectpark.org.

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.