Posts Tagged ‘New York Restoration Project’

Hurricane Sandy Plus One Year—Volunteers Still Needed

SandyCoasterIt was a year ago today that the eastern shores of New York and New Jersey, as well as plenty of other wide expanses of land, were beaten mercilessly by nature when struck by Hurricane Sandy. It was the deadliest storm in the United States since Katrina in New Orleans, and cleanup and rebuilding efforts are still underway. As so often happens, our national attention evolves and moves on once we evolve from the stage of emergency into recovery, so, many who were not directly affected have not realized how much damage remains.

Weekends still find dedicated volunteers rebuilding, cleaning up, replanting, and recommitting to their neighbors. If you’re in the region, or visiting soon, the need for volunteers remains high–so jump in. A little sweat from a day’s hard work will do you good, and warm you against the late autumn chill. Here are just a few ways to find out how to be of good use in the storm recovery efforts:

Americorps (The Corporation for National and Community Service)—does tremendous work with post-disaster response and service. They can help you find a number of ways to be involved whether you can swing a hammer or not.

FEMA Corps—established by the office of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, this partnership with Americorps is dedicated, with the efforts of 1,600 volunteers, directly to emergency response. There is a youth focus, even providing full-time housing for service workers ages 18-24, who help grow our nation’s disaster response capacity.

NYC Service—is the volunteer portal run by New York City, helping you find a project of need in response to Sandy (or any other category of volunteering you might want to explore).

New York Cares—will get you going volunteering on Sandy projects, or others in the area.

All Hands Volunteers—has to date helped more than 300 families via the efforts of more than 2,700 volunteers totaling donated volunteer hours representing nearly a million dollars.

New York Restoration Project—focuses on the green spaces and community gardens in communities of need, re-planting trees, renewing open spaces and parks, and restoring natural areas.

Hope for New York—is a faith-based organization, mobilizing hundreds of volunteers in Sandy relief efforts.

The Divine Miss M


Cruise down the freeway in Los Angeles or look along some New York roadsides, and you’ll see signs saying that this particular stretch of road is cleaned and maintained by Bette Midler. I’ll have to say I was pretty doubtful that Bette, well meaning as I’d always heard she was, would actually ever be out there with her Hefty bag and gloves grabbing up cigarette butts and Dr. Pepper cans. Now I know better–her commitment to the greening of the places she calls home is almost unparalleled. Bette’s New York Restoration Project (about which I’ve blogged before) is a hugely important player in the greening of the Big Apple. So many people find the inspiration to get involved due to her star power and name…and now she’s gathering, ohhh, about a hundred or so of her most famous friends, to up the ante.

Ms. Midler has pulled together an ONLINE CHARITABLE AUCTION at CHARITYFOLKS.COM to raise funds for NYRP. Once in a lifetime opportunities to meet and hang out with celebs are being auctioned to the highest charitable bidders. Some of the opportunities of which you can avail yourself (and feel good about being philanthropic and making New York better for everyone) include:

· Sit front row at Bette Midler’s Las Vegas show and meet her backstage

· Lunch with Richard Branson during your week-long getaway at Necker Island

· Lunch with Jann Wenner – Founder & Publisher of Rolling Stone Magazine

· Private tennis lesson with John McEnroe

· Walk on Role with Steve Carell and Paul Rudd in “Dinner for Schmucks”

· Meet Daniel Craig with house seats to A Steady Rain on Broadway

· Meet John Stamos backstage at Bye Bye Birdie

· Spend a Day in the Studio with Legendary Musician Jackson Browne

· Meet Robin Williams with VIP tickets to his NYC stand-up show

· Meet Cher with VIP tickets & backstage passes to her Las Vegas show

· Meet John Mayer at one of his concerts along with VIP tickets

· Intern at Rolling Stone Magazine – the ultimate source for music & pop-culture

· Walk-on Role & Lunch on Set of  It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

The auction is live until Friday the 13th (November 13, 2009) at, highlights from the fabulous 100 lot auction include:


4I spent the afternoon today in a gorgeous Northern Manhattan park called Swindler Cove. The park has been one of many many success stories of the hard work of volunteers and staff of the New York Restoration Project. NYRP is an environmental care organization started by Bette Midler when she came to New York and was put out by how much trash there was and in what a sorry state the parks and community gardens were. She and friends in 1995 started taking it upon themselves to clean up green spaces in the city.

The organization now has projects with parks, gardens, and trash cleanup in many many sections of New York. Over 875 tons of garbage has been removed from parkland by NYRP teams of volunteers and staff.

Swindler Cove is the “jewel in the crown” for NYRP. It is 5 acres on the Harlem River up at the northern tip of Manhattan. Where once locals pulled over at the side of a busy road and pushed their trash bags, shopping carts, decrepit cars, and who can guess what else over the edge…is now a relaxing respite from the city. There’s a children’s garden, groomed paths through forested sections, a waterfall, art installation birdhouses, benches in the shade, and a floating boathouse where neighborhood kids and adults come to learn rowing and kayaking on the river. Birdsong and the rustle of leaves is the soundscape of what was once a de facto dump. swindler4


I was there with the US Publicist for my book, 500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference, so we could shoot some on-the-fly video of a volunteer program in the city for promotion. Bette wasn’t there (though she is in New York on hiatus from her Vegas show), but I got to interview the wonderful Angela Michie, NYRP’s Community Outreach and Volunteer Manager. Incredible work is being done in this oasis of calm as well as other parks and gardens around the boroughs. Look them up and give them an afternoon’s worth of sweat.

It makes an enormous difference–as Bette Midler believes, we all have a right to a green city, and should take on being an active partner in the “Conservancy of Forgotten Places.” swindler1