I am a summer intern in the Office of the Mayor of New York City, and I am a proud member of the brand new NYC Service team. NYC Service is a new municipal initiative by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to answer President Obama’s national call to service, and its primary goal is to increase volunteerism and civic engagement in the city.
This summer, I had the opportunity to help plan, coordinate, and engage in numerous volunteer activities throughout the city, but the highlight of the summer was a beautification project at Coney Island.
Coney Island has been in decline for much of the latter half of the 20th Century, and it has continued on a downward spiral to this day. The amusement district has been largely ignored, there is high unemployment in the area, and the quality of life in the neighborhood is dismal.
A redevelopment plan that will improve infrastructure and bring commerce back to the area is underway, but NYC summer interns were called to help get some work started. Dubbed “Service by the Seashore,” over 150 interns and staff from the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Parks & Recreation, and the Office of Management and Budget, helped freshen up local playgrounds and areas near the beach during a full day of service.
We painted park benches and gates, picked up litter, weeded, put down mulch, and planted trees. The best part of the day was talking to people in the community while serving, and they were not only appreciative, but also looked to give a helping hand. It was truly amazing to see how witnessing service inspires others to want to join in.
Volunteering while working for NYC Service has definitely been a worthwhile experience. The people who live at Coney Island definitely appreciated the work we accomplished that day, and I believe it helped initiate all the dramatic changes needed to transform Coney Island in the future.