New Yorkers for Parks to Honor 2017 Daffodil Project Award Winners at 15th Annual Daffodil Breakfast in Midtown
Living Memorial to 9/11 One of the Largest Volunteer Efforts in City’s History
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 11, 2017
CONTACT: Megan Douglas 212-838-9410 ex.310 / email@example.com
April 26, 2017 (New York, NY) – New Yorkers for Parks (NY4P), the citywide independent champion of quality open space, will honor outstanding Daffodil Project volunteers from every borough at its annual Daffodil Breakfast on Wednesday, April 26th, from 8:00 am – 9:30 am at the Bryant Park Grill in Midtown Manhattan.
Founded in the fall of 2001 as a living memorial to the victims of 9/11, the Daffodil Project has planted over 6.5 million free daffodil bulbs across the five boroughs, and has engaged over 100,000 young students, parks and gardens groups, civic organizations, and other New Yorkers. The Project has become a symbol of the city’s resiliency, and a powerful tool for community engagement and empowerment. Because of the Project, the daffodil was named the official flower of New York City in 2007.
“The Daffodil Project wouldn’t be such a huge success without the hard work of these New Yorkers who are willing to go the extra mile to make our city great,” said Lynn Kelly, NY4P’s Executive Director. “We are continually amazed by the love and dedication they have for their communities, and are delighted to honor their work. Parks and public places are the soul of our city, and we all benefit from the work of these open space stewards.”
This year, NY4P will honor the following individuals and community groups:
The Lynden B. Miller Citywide Award:
Rick Gordon, Franco Mucciacciaro, and Ivan Lopez, NYC Parks Storehouse Crew
The Daffodil Project has been a partnership between NYC Parks and NY4P since it began in the fall of 2001. As a small nonprofit organization, NY4P relies on the help of the incredible staff at the NYC Parks Storehouse in the Bronx. Rick Gordon (now at Randall’s Island), Franco Mucciacciaro, and Ivan Lopez have been the behind-the-scenes lifeblood of the Daffodil Project since day one. Each fall, approximately 500,000 daffodil bulbs are shipped to the Parks Storehouse, where the Parks crew ensures that the hundreds of thousands of daffodil bulbs NY4P distributes for free get exactly where they need to go. Simply put, without the help of the Storehouse crew, there would be no Daffodil Project. For their years of dedicated service to this five borough beautification project, NY4P recognizes these gentlemen with the Lynden B. Miller Citywide Daffodil Award.
The Bronx: Nilka Martel, Loving the Bronx and the Bronx Coalition for Parks and Green Space
A lifelong resident of the Bronx, Nilka Martell grew up playing at the same parks that she now successfully advocates for. In 2016, Virginia Park and Playground and Hugh Grant Circle were awarded $5 million through NYC Parks’ Parks Without Borders program, in large part due to Nilka’s advocacy. Called the “Mayor of Parkchester” by NY1, Nilka is the founder of Loving the Bronx, which engages the Bronx community in public space stewardship, including planting approximately 1,500 daffodils since 2011. She is also the co-chair of the Bronx Coalition for Parks and Green Space, which organizes the annual Bronx Parks Speak Up, the only grassroots borough-wide annual parks conference in the city.
Brooklyn: Marlene Pantin, Red Hook Conservancy
When Marlene Pantin pushed the Red Hook Recreation Center to get a piece of furniture that would allow women to use the weight room year-round, she had no idea it would eventually lead her to found the Red Hook Conservancy in 2011. But when other rec center members witnessed her success they asked her to push for additional improvements, and before too long they were advocating for the entire center and the surrounding park. Marlene and the other founders of the Conservancy find that a well-maintained park motivates residents to exercise, create art, and build community, and that it creates a safer neighborhood. The well-maintained park encourages young people to become more involved in sports, arts, and music, rather than violence, which once plagued the Red Hook community. The Conservancy plants daffodils, brings children’s art programming to the playground, gets community members engaged in gardening and other healthy activities, does volunteer maintenance in the park year-round, and much more. Their goal is to raise significant funds to support the work that is needed in the park and recreation center. They also plan to develop a robust environmental education program that enables children and youth in the community to be actively involved in the designs and plans for gardens and other areas in the park.
Manhattan: George Reis, New York University
George Reis began working as a gardener at New York University in 1995, and is now the Grounds Manager for the entire campus. Even though many people don’t think of NYU as a landscaped campus, it has as much green space as Washington Square Park, only distributed over a wider area. Because NYU has no gates or walls the green spaces are truly public, there for the entire Greenwich Village community to enjoy. Over time, George noticed how these small green spaces positively impacted the thousands of people who pass by and through them every day. Then he met Lynden Miller, cofounder of the Daffodil Project, who inspired him to deepen his study of public horticulture. George is passionate about the important role that green spaces play in a healthy urban ecosystem, and how NYU can contribute. The mission of the Daffodil Project perfectly aligns with his work in public horticulture, and NYU has participated in the Project since its founding in 2001. Young students from area grade schools participate in daffodil bulb plantings in the fall, getting a hands-on education in the benefits of urban gardening.
Staten Island: Lee Regenbogen and Mary McInerney, The Richard H. Hungerford School
A special needs middle and high school on Staten Island, The Richard H. Hungerford School educates children of varying abilities using a multi-sensory approach. The school is in the process of starting a school garden which will beautify the grounds and give the students a more pleasurable experience. The school’s motto is “Never dis our abilities,” but the students’ ambition shouldn’t be discounted, either. The students crave the opportunity to take responsibility for a garden, and in the process Lee Regenbogen, Mary McInerney, and the other staff will teach them the benefits of having one. The students at Hungerford just planted their first daffodil bulbs in fall of 2016, but they’ve got big plans for their little garden. The school will eventually use the fruits and vegetables they grow in their lunchroom, and share what they’ve learned with other organizations looking to start a garden.
Queens: Erycka de Jesus, NYC Compost Project hosted by Big Reuse
If you’ve spent any time in Western Queens, you’ve probably benefitted from the work of Erycka de Jesus. In her free time she plants daffodils and cares for street trees across her neighborhood of Astoria; she facilitates the Ravenswood Houses community sustainability group; she’s a member of the Friends of Rainey Park and Friends of Ravenswood Playground; is a member of the of the local City Harvest Community Action Network; and is a mentor for the young people at her community center. At her nine-to-five job doing outreach for the NYC Compost Project hosted by Big Reuse, she works with open space and ecological stewards across Western Queens and Northern Brooklyn. The Daffodil Project is integral to Big Reuse’s fall street tree care stewardship, and they find that the Project is a powerful way to demonstrate the importance of community engagement and environmental sustainability.
Parks Pioneer Award
Steve Chesler and Katherine Thompson, Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park
For the past two years, Steve Chesler and Katherine Thompson have been at the center of a David versus Goliath-worthy story about a group of committed community members banding together to put pressure on the New York City Government and a wealthy landowner. Their work has been so original, forward thinking, and dedicated, that New Yorkers for Parks is recognizing them at this year’s Daffodil Breakfast with a special “Parks Pioneer Award.” They began participating in the Daffodil Project in late 2016. This was shortly after their activism led the City to finally commit to completing Bushwick Inlet Park, which it had promised to the Williamsburg and Greenpoint communities over 11 years prior. They have now turned their incredible energy to preserving and enhancing the park. The Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park see their role as both ensuring that the development of the park continually moves forward, and helping to connect the community through park-based activities and education. The Daffodil Project is one of the many tools they use to do both.
About New Yorkers for Parks
For over 100 years New Yorkers for Parks has been the independent champion for quality parks and open space for all New Yorkers. Through our research, advocacy, and the Daffodil Project, we work with communities and elected officials to create and preserve quality open space across the city. To learn more visit us at www.ny4p.org.
CONTACT: Megan Douglas 212-838-9410 ex.310 / firstname.lastname@example.org