The Friends of Astoria Heights Park is a group that started 2 years ago in August 2013 to advocate for a cleaner, safer and more inspiring park space. We are a group of neighborhood volunteers that have come together to mobilize and improve our park. We have done a lot in the last two years, with hosting at least 3 dozen events, and are the recipients of 9 grants to date. We also worked hard to help advcate for the much needed capital funding from the city and renovations that will begin within the next 1-2 years. Our Park got on the radar of our Parks Department, local politicans and Community Board 1, because members showed up to expresss their opinions, sign petitions or write letters. The Friends group, and park users have played an active role in shaping how our park is transforming…for the better.
Two years ago, it was not uncommon to see a lot of glass in the park, or see flooding of the matting around the outdated play equipment, kids running out of the park or tripping on tree roots( of which are still there, but renovations will address). A negative relationship seemed to exist between the public school neighboring the playground, or reports from parents about the ‘big kids’ doing inappropriate activities in the space.
We can proudly say that the Friends group has made a concerted effort at addressing these issues. Especially, engaging youth in programming in the park, such as tree care, planting, painting, cleaning, and playing have helped to begin to reconnect the youth to their park and their helping to sustain it. Volunteers have done this with their own time, muscle and willingness to commit. Volunteers have hosted or helped to organize amazing events, such as a basketball clinic for younger children, book swaps, reading corner, potlucks, art events, tree care and gardening, olympics, fire safety, tennis and puppet shows to name a few.
The Friends group is eager to have your help, skills and leadership. Volunteers are needed to sustain the Friends group over time. Without a fresh group of volunteers, the Friends group will have to cut back severely in its quantity of activity. Volunteers are needed to develop their ideas for an event or programming and begin to facilitate its really taking place. It could be a one time event or activity, or a multi week programming, or taking over something like compost. The Friends group is willing to help support any individual or group of individuals in mentoring their special event, with providing assistance in planning and coordinating. Making a committment to volunteer can seem like a big decision, especially with limited time, work, children or other responsibilities demanding your attention. The Friends group members all have children, so we know what it is to make a committment beyond the necessary. Choosing to be more involved in your local park can be a very rewarding experience for yourself, but more so for the others that benefit from your giving back.
10/3, 9 am: Tree Care and more at Park Day. To volunteer, please contact Lynnk@friendsofastoriaheightspark.org
10/24, 4pm: Please join The Friends in celebrating 2 years with a special Volunteer recognition ceremony, international potluck and music. Bring a speical dish and/or volunteer at the food table.
10/29 7pm (location tba): an opportunity to get more information or to talk about your idea and get it going. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.