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Voluntourism Spotlight: Keep NY Green with the NY Restoration Project

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This week’s voluntourism spotlight introduces one of New York’s most respected non-profits—The New York Restoration Project. Originally a grassroots effort by Bette Midler, the organization is now a major force in keeping the city clean and green. Find out more in this weekend’s broadcast of Peter Greenberg Worldwide and check back every Wednesday for more voluntourism opportunities.

Since its inception the New York Restoration Project (NYRP) has moved beyond just removing trash from city parks to creating and maintaining community gardens and spaces. The New York Restoration Projects now owns 52 community gardens throughout the five boroughs.  Working in conjunction with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation,the organization has also remove more than 133,000 bags worth of trash from city parks. Then in 2007, the New York Restoration Project joined forces with Mayor Bloomberg to start MillionTreesNYC, with the goal of planting one million new trees in New York City by 2017.

Last year, NYRP hosted 445 volunteers, many of whom returned for multiple projects. This year, you can get involved in multiple ways. Volunteering help by caring for trees, planting flowers, composting, cleaning up parks (removing litter, debris, etc.), removing invasive plants and doing standard garden work like raking and weeding. The NYRP has also been instrumental in revitalizing New York parks after Hurricane Sandy.

For those interested in one-day volunteer opportunities, there are multiple events and day work throughout the year. Most beginning in March when the weather has improved. Most one-time volunteer events mostly take place in Sherman Creek Park and Highbridge Park in Upper Manhattan, where volunteers recently took part in a storm recovery volunteer event to clean up litter in the wetland and shoreline area.

This weekend one-day volunteers can participate in the annual Mulchfest. This event, held in partnership with the New York Parks and Recreation, allows New Yorkers to recycle their Christmas trees and keep New York green. If you bring a bag, they will fill it up for you to take home to your garden. For those who don’t want to lug mulch back home, the wood chips can be donated.

Volunteers must be at least 16 years old. There is no training necessary, but the volunteer coordinator will give a short tutorial on the day you volunteer. They also hold group and corporate volunteer opportunities.

Sign up to receive updated volunteer opportunities by emailing or visiting out the New York Restoration Project website.

By Darra Stone for