At the same time, it was the annual launch of KAB’s Great American Cleanup and a perfect occasion to celebrate KNYCB’s many achievements. Also present at the event were children from Holy Cross School and the High School of Environmental Studies, as well as Department of the Interior representative Lisa Young and other federal, state and City officials.
This year’s theme was “Green Starts Here” and matching this message, Mandy Gonzalez, cast member of the show “Wicked,” serenaded all present by singing one of the show’s songs in the role of the Green Witch Elphaba. For his part, rapper J Xavier delivered a lively environmental rap to the delight of the audience. Last but not least, none other than Caressa Cameron, the reigning Miss America 2010, sang a beautiful rendition of “America the Beautiful!”
The Keep New York City Beautiful coalition, which I chair as Sanitation Commissioner, represents several city agencies and non-for-profit organizations, which merge their energies, ideas, and volunteers into a unified approach to make New York City a cleaner and more beautiful place in which to live and work and a prime destination for tourists to visit.
The coalition has already made impressive gains. Thanks to the hard work of the men and women of the Sanitation Department, working together with enthusiastic volunteers and concerned citizens, New York City is the cleanest it has been in more than 35 years.
The event in Times Square was also a wonderful vehicle to recognize the dedicated work of the thousands of volunteers who organize and participate in community clean up and beautification efforts throughout the five boroughs. It was a great day that shone a light on our concern for Mother Earth and our city, and highlighted the importance of volunteerism.
In fact, the spirit of volunteerism was represented by Elbin Mena, a retired NYPD officer and detective from the Bronx, and this year’s recipient of The President’s Volunteer Service Award.
In 28 years as a volunteer, Mr. Mena has logged over 29,000 hours, mobilizing other volunteers in massive cleanups; creating butterfly gardens; planting thousands of native plants to clean and filter the waters of the Bronx River; and tirelessly working on enforcing no-dumping regulations.
Mena personifies the commitment and dedication of the many thousands of volunteers, who generously give of their time to clean and beautify our city. These dedicated individuals are the city’s unsung heroes, whose civic spirit and commitment echo NYC Service, Mayor Bloomberg’s call to volunteerism for all to help their communities and fellow New Yorkers.
It’s important to remember that even if we don’t find the time to volunteer, we can all do our part to preserve and improve our city’s quality of life. Here are some suggestions to keep New York City clean and beautiful:
• Don’t Litter
• Organize and join community clean ups and beautification efforts
• Combat graffiti – call 311
• Create community gardens
• Reduce, reuse and recycle
• Always clean up after your dog
• Participate in Sanitation’s Adopt-A-Basket program and help keep your street corner clean
• Remove illegally posted fliers, handbills, etc. They create an unsightly mess
• Keep tree pits free from trash...better yet, plant flowers in them -- the Parks Department will guide you
If you would like to volunteer, call 311 or visit our website at www.nyc.gov/sanitation and click on Keep NYC Beautiful.
Let’s roll up our sleeves and help make New York City clean, green, and beautiful!