Archive | July, 2010

Urban Girl Squad Beats the Heat in Riverside Park

22 Jul

A team of 10-15 women hit the dirt this past weekend as part of a volunteer event put on by the Urban Girl Squad. We arrived at 116th and Riverside around 10am and got to know one another while we waited for Manny from the Riverside Park Fund. He went over some basics about the area, and what ours task would be for the day: Pull weeds. Pull lots of weeds. Not only are they unsightly, but the tall mess of leaves and branches also pose a safety risk when people are unable to see down into the park from the street level (If you’ve never been up to that neck of the woods, the park slopes down from the street at a steep incline)

Since we were smack in the middle of a heat wave, this project was cut short simply because it was too damn hot out to pull weeds for 3 hours straight. We began packing up our tools and clearing debris shortly after 12, by which time we had made a pretty big dent. Manny planned to go back later in the week to throw down wood chips, making the area look much cleaner and uniform.

UGS Volunteers in the Weeds

Click for more pictures, or visit Urban Girl Squad’s website!

All of the girls were really nice and chatted each other up while working, which made the day go by quicker. Urban Girl Squad seems to have a great following in NYC and I would recommend looking into their future events for any woman who just moved to the city and is looking to meet new people. They host wine tastings, outdoor adventures and more; they now have monthly volunteer opportunities as well. The next volunteer outing will be August 22nd at God’s Love We Deliver. I’ve volunteered here before (you can read about my experience here) and can vouch for the awesomeness of this organization. There will only be 10 spots available, so sign up now if you want to attend!

 

Back to School Party at The Wharf

19 Jul
UPDATE: Anyone who donates supplies will be entered into a raffle to win two tickets to STOMP! Anyone who donates a backpack will be entered into a raffle to win tickets to LA CAGE Aux Folles on Broadway!!!!

Head to the outdoor deck at The Wharf on August 11th for G&G’s “Back to School Party” to benefit Homes for the Homeless. Bring a donation of school supplies and you’ll get drink specials all night long, including $4 Absolut Drinks! Below is a bit more information about Homes for the Homeless:

“At Homes for the Homeless, our mission is to provide homeless families with the opportunities and support necessary to move out of shelter and live independently. With the knowledge that Family Homelessness is first and foremost a poverty issue that disproportionately affects children, Homes for the Homeless has adopted a family-based, child-centered, education-focused approach to all its programs and services.

School supplies can be very costly to our families, and we try to provide them with as many things as possible. The biggest thing we can use are backpacks, but as we have over 350 school aged children between our four American Family Inns, any school supplies would be of use, from notebooks to crayons, from safety scissors to index cards.”

SUGGESTED DONATIONS: Backpacks*, Color Pencils, Index Cards, Calculators*, Safety Scissors, Glue, Pencils, Composition Notebooks, Folders, Pens, Spiral Notebooks, Pencil Cases, Crayons, Binders, Pencil Sharpeners, Markers, Lined Loose Leaf Paper, Tape, Highlighters, Rulers, Erasers

DRINK SPECIALS:$4 Absolut Drinks (until 9:30)
$3 Miller Lite bottles
$3.50 for 2 select drafts
$5 Orange Crushes (a summer drink specialty of The Wharf)
$1 Tacos

You can RSVP on Facebook or email info@giveandgetnyc.com !


ANYONE WHO DONATES A BACKPACK WILL BE ENTERED INTO A RAFFLE TO WIN TICKETS TO A BROADWAY SHOW!!
(click flyer for larger, ‘fridge-worthy version)

NYC Ladies: Green Volunteering Opportunity!

10 Jul

The Urban Girl Squad will be hosting a volunteer project in Riverside Park on Saturday, July 17th from 10am-1pm. A group of 30 or so volunteers will be weeding and gardening  on 116th Street to help beautify Riverside Park. The work done this day will contribute to the Woodland Restoration Project, a multi-year project to restore this historic woodland landscape as it was envisioned by Frederick Law Olmsted back in 1875.

I’ll be attending -I love a good ‘green’ project on a Saturday morning in summer- and there are still a few spots left for volunteers. You can RSVP by clicking here (ladies only-sorry fellas). Space is limited, so hurry up and RSVP now! Other things to know:

– As with any gardening project, be sure to dress comfortably and wear close-toed shoes. You’ll likely be standing or kneeling in dirt and mulch for hours. No one likes to see dirty toes on the subway…

– Bug spray may also be a good idea; given the humidity in NYC at the moment, I’ll surely be dousing myself in a healthy amount of OFF before leaving my apartment on the 17th.

-Riverside Park is my favorite NYC Park (I’m a West Sider myself, but still…I never said I was impartial). It’s made a few impressive cameos in some famous movies; my favorite, the promenade at 91st Street is where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan meet at the end of the 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail.

About Urban Girl Squad:

Established in February 2008, Urban Girl Squad is a community-based social group for women in their 20s and 30s in New York City. It creates opportunities for these women to try new things, spend time with friends, and meet new people. Their events include food and wine tastings, beauty and fashion nights, dance and fitness classes, sports events, cocktail parties, volunteer events, and more. They provide special, discounted access to the city — you’ll meet store owners and designers, taste gourmet food and drinks, receive personal attention from popular venues, and score some amazing gift bags.

Giving to Go

10 Jul

So sometimes at my office we order lunch as a group and everyone eats together, and as a thank you for working hard and making money, the company foots the bill. It becomes very apparent when the food arrives that no one held back when ordering, and the amount of food is significantly more abundant than it would have been had everyone been asked to pay for themselves. “Get an extra pizza, just in case” “Let’s get a couple orders of fries, you know, just for the table” “Eggrolls for everyone! We’re rich!” The result is a ridiculous amount of leftovers that eventually get thrown out.

The problem is that I hate seeing perfectly good food go to waste. On previous occasions, I would combat this problem by eating myself into a food coma; unfortunately, putting your head down on your desk and napping for an hour isn’t as acceptable as it used to be in say, 2nd grade.

My next attempt to save waste was taking leftovers home and eating them for dinner with my boyfriend. There were many problems with this, however. First and most important, is that I ride a bike to and from work. Dangerous as it is riding in NYC, the danger increased ten-fold when I hung bags of pad thai and spring rolls from my handlebars and attempted to navigate through midtown. Also, everyone thought I was crazy. I became the office garbage disposal; I once came back from the restroom to find a half-eaten sandwich on my desk with a note: ‘I thought you might want this -xo’. No, I don’t want your soggy chips and pickles. Mission aborted.

Then I realized one day this past winter, while walking to the subway (I’m not THAT committed of a biker to ride in the cold) that each day, I pass at least one person begging for food and money. It’s a sad reality of living in NYC.  So the next time everyone ordered lunch, I brought one meal with me for my walk home and not surprisingly, there was someone in the subway entrance asking for money. I asked him if he was hungry, and when he said yes I asked if he liked chinese food. He laughed and said yes, so I gave him my General Tso’s Chicken with an egg roll on the side. After that day, I began packing bags of food each time we had leftovers, and handed them out on my way home. Between where I work and home, Herald Square and the 1/2/3 Stop at 72nd Street, I can usually unload 2 or 3 meals. If I can’t find anyone I wind up bringing it home, but I usually have no trouble finding someone hungry.

I’m not sure if this is okay-I know that it would be better to point these people in the direction of a shelter or somewhere to get a hot, free meal. And I have. Is it rude to give someone your leftovers? I don’t think so. They’re hungry. I have food. Seems okay to me. It’s not like I’m having dinner parties with friends and feeding them my co-worker’s scraps.

So maybe you want to try this yourself; here are some tips I can offer based solely on my own experiences:

-Put everything in a bag. I once gave a man an apple and bottle of water while he was begging for change; he thanked me and asked if I had a bag he could put it in-he couldn’t hold his change cup and the apple/water at the same time. It’s not like they can put it in the fridge for later, you know? Bag it.

Don’t go on a 2am crusade through the park by yourself; be safe and smart about who you’re approaching and where. It may be a good idea to avoid the guy wearing wireless headphones who swears to himself and warns anyone within earshot about the impending doom of the Apocalypse.

-If you can, include a fork, knife, and some napkins. Just because they’re hungry doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to eat like a civilized human being.

– Giving them the original containers is best, as I’ve seen homeless people use tupperware and other recycled containers to gather water or other things that they can then save for later.

-Don’t just throw food at someone-ask first. Also, I tend to only approach people with signs or other things that clearly indicate they are in need; it’s probably pretty embarrassing to approach someone who turns out to just be tying their shoe on the ground.

-There are organizations who travel the city handing out food every day, like the Coalition for the Homeless, or the Bowery Mission. If you’re not comfortable doing this solo, get hooked up with one of these agencies and join their fleet.

Have you done this before? If so, what happened? Please feel free to post any questions or comments.