East Harlem Volunteers Awarded For Parks Service

MN Golden Trowel Winner 1On December 2, Partnerships for Parks hosted the It’s My Park Awards Reception to honor parks volunteers who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and commitment to their local parks through service, advocacy and collaboration.

Partnerships for Parks presented seven awards at the ceremony including the 2015 Golden Trowel Awards for the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island, as well as the Tim Tompkins Leadership Award, and, for the first time, the Community Parks Initiative (CPI) Award.

Nearly 300 parks volunteers from across the five boroughs came out to celebrate the occasion, held in the Rotunda of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House. The evening featured remarks from NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, City Parks Foundation (CPF) Executive Director Heather Lubov, CPF Board Chair David Moore, CPF Board Member John Troubh, Director of Partnerships for Parks Sabina Saragoussi, Harlem’s New York City Councilmember Mark Levine, and US Head of Environmental Affairs at TD Bank Joe Doolan. Partnerships for Parks founder Tim Tompkins, NYC Parks First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh and Manhattan Borough Commissioner William T. Castro were also on hand to honor the volunteers.

Giving even more cause for celebration, CPF Executive Director Heather Lubov announced at the ceremony a new partnership with TD Bank that will see them as the lead sponsor for the 2016 It’s My Park season and the lead support of the Capacity Fund Grant program. Their support will help Partnerships for Parks continue to grow and expand the number of park clean ups and volunteers that participate. They will also double the amount of grant funds available to friends groups.

The Golden Trowel award recognizes volunteers’ commitment to transforming their parks and green spaces into dynamic community assets. It is presented to a community group from each borough that has led It’s My Park and other programs, and has demonstrated exceptional organizational growth. This year’s Golden Trowel recipient from Manhattan, home to 381 parks groups, was Tom’s Dog Run Committee, led by co-founder Mia Hernandez.


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Tom’s Dog Run Committee (TDR) has been dedicated to stewardship efforts in East Harlem’s Thomas Jefferson Park since the group was founded in 2011. This year, TDR coordinated monthly service projects April through October, held visioning activities to better serve local pet owners and encourage pet responsibility, and worked to improve cleanliness and safety in the park. As a 2015 Partnerships for Parks Academy Fellowship graduate, Ms. Hernandez received training and guidance on how to best work with community members, the NYC Parks & Recreation Department, and elected officials to enact change. This support was instrumental in TDR’s collaboration with The Friends of Thomas Jefferson Park to submit a “Report & Recommendations for Improvements to Thomas Jefferson Park” to the NYC Parks Department. As a direct result, their summer maintenance plan was implemented in the park and city council funding was allocated for the installation of an irrigation system. Also this year, TDR worked with the Catalyst program to coordinate the first Pet Health Fair event which brought local and citywide pet organizations and agencies to provide information about free and low cost pet services in East Harlem.

All parks groups were self or peer nominated and vetted by a Partnerships for Parks selection committee that focused on nominee’s achievements in the past year. Special regard was given to nominees who demonstrated achievement or overcame a challenge in their park or within their community group, coordinated a It’s My Park project or event, and/or acted as an inspirational role model for NYC community park volunteers.

To learn more visit: www.PartnershipsforParks.org

Partnerships for Parks is funded in part by the Parks Equity Initiative of the NYC Council under the leadership of Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito.

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