By Bob Cooley
Every Sunday at 11:30 a.m. volunteers gather at the NYC AIDS Memorial Park at St. Vincent’s Triangle (Seventh and Greenwich Avenues) to participate in a community cleanup program that provides a way to meet new neighbors while helping to keep our West Village clean.
Led by District 3 council speaker candidate Erik Bottcher, a dozen or more volunteers take on tasks consisting of cleaning up light trash, weeding community flower beds, creating tree beds, and beautifying public spaces all over the Village.
As an example of the small but important changes made to the community by the program, Bottcher provided this account: “There were tree pits that were waste-high in weeds and were filled with trash. And when we were picking the trash out of those weeds, we started pulling the weeds. Then we thought, this is an opportunity to transform this tree bed into a really beautiful greenspace. So we got a whole bunch of volunteers the following Sunday, and we tilled the soil (which was rock hard). We brought compost from Clinton Community Garden and we got plants and we landscaped it. And by the end of that day, we had three beautiful landscaped tree beds where we didn’t have them before. So it’s really the power of community, the power of volunteerism, an example of what one person can do when their efforts are combined with others, to really make a big difference.
We have people really finding hope through the program, at a time of despair when you watch the TV and it just makes you want to curl up into a ball and wait for it all to be over. It’s giving people a way of turning their despair into action.”
If you are interested in volunteering or want more information, you can simply show up at the park on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Greenwich Avenue at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, or email Bottcher directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Cooley is a photojournalist who lives in the West Village. He has spent over 30 years creating photography for the Associated Press, and for LIFE Magazine, Forbes, The Economist, Sports Illustrated, and many other publications. You can see more of Bob’s work at www.bobcooleyphoto.com.