By Joe Salas
For generations, people have been flocking to Greenwich Village’s winding Federalist streets to leave their own mark on the storied neighborhood. Today, the Village is bursting at the edges with landmarks, big and small, young and old, from obscure oddities like Hess’s Triangle, to bars and clubs that started social movements and legendary careers, to undeniably monumental architecture like the Washington Square Arch.
With so many landmarks clamoring for attention, groups are finding creative ways to leave their own mark on the neighborhood: through volunteering with Greenwich House.
Throughout the summer, volunteers from organizations like Morgan Stanley and New York University (NYU) have been helping to revitalize Greenwich House’s 99-year-old building, itself a Greenwich Village landmark.
Standing guard over the intersection of Bleecker and Barrow Streets and 7th Avenue South, the five-story facade of Greenwich House’s main building disguises what’s inside including a theater, commercial kitchen, medical offices, a gym with a separate running track, and what some say is the busiest elevator in New York City. The building is the hub of the century-old settlement house that provides arts education, senior services and behavioral health programs to more than 15,000 New Yorkers each year.
As Facilities Manager Tedd Havlicek said, “this building is in constant use, which requires constant upkeep.” This summer, volunteers looking to leave a lasting impact not just on the Village, but on those who live, work, and seek care in the Village, have been helping with that upkeep.
Both students and staff from NYU, including their Outreach, Residential Life and Law programs, have been pitching in to repaint the stairways—all nine flights—as well as the gym. At Greenwich House Music School, located at 46 Barrow Street, NYU volunteers spruced up the art room and main corridor. Morgan Stanley volunteers restored and repainted the landmarked fence in front.
“Without the volunteers’ help, it would be another year before we were able to tackle these projects. Thanks to Morgan Stanley and NYU, we’re able to provide a continuity of programs and services that Villagers rely on,” said Havlicek.
However, Greenwich House wasn’t the only one thankful for the help. Volunteers were thankful for the opportunity to be a part of Village history as well.
“I can’t wait to walk past the Music School next week, next month, next year and hear music coming out the window and know that I had a hand in that,” said one volunteer who wished to remain anonymous. Another expressed satisfaction that she finally felt like a true Village resident, having contributed to the neighborhood institution like generations of Village residents have before her.
From hosting a special party for seniors to revitalizing spaces in landmark buildings or volunteering at special events, Greenwich House offers diverse volunteer projects in equally diverse program areas. Groups interested in leaving their own mark in Greenwich Village through volunteering should contact Diane Perrin at firstname.lastname@example.org.