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Monday, July 01, 2013

The First Days of Summer

BCS Staff and Crew cleaning up the lot outside Via Verde
When you think of Summertime in New York City, you may think of Coney Island, free summer concerts, and Shakespeare in the Park - but here in the Bronx we think about community service. During the first official week of summer, Bronx Community Service was buzzing with some amazing community service events.

On the first day of summer, Friday, June 21, Bronx Community Solutions partnered with Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo, the New York City Mayor's Office, Department of Sanitation and the residents of a new Bronx residential development called Via Verde to clean a Mott Haven lot that used to be a railroad, which over time had become a community eyesore. This area is sandwiched between a high school and a sports field, near the newly developed condominium. The lot had been being used as a shanty town which was removed to make room for the new residential building - however the area was left with a large amount of garbage and other debris. Bronx Community Solutions brought a crew of eight defendants and focused on raking up trash and grass, picking up all of the garbage and construction litter. Our day's work substantially improved the appearance of the lot and surrounding area.
BCS Staff and Community Service Participants picking up trash left in the lot

An aerial view of the lot outside Via Verde lot, before cleanup
The same lot, after!
On Monday, June 24th, Bronx Community Solutions partnered with the Bronx River Alliance, the Department of Sanitation, Community Board 9 and the Mayor's Office to clean-up a Bronx River waterfront which had become a neighborhood eyesore. This waterfront was owned by a private owner but had been essentially abandoned, subject to years of neglect. The Mayor's office took over ownership and donated it to the Bronx River Alliance but was in need of assistance in cleaning up the waterfront. BCS brought nine community service participants to pick up garbage and debris that had been collecting there over time: tires, discarded mattresses, pieces of wood, and litter. 
Trash that had accumulated on Westchester Avenue, next to the waterfront


The crew in action at the waterfront area
Picking up the garbage alone took almost three hours to complete
The waterfront area looked much better after the efforts of the crew!

For both cleanups at Via Verde and at the Waterfront, there were hundreds of discarded hypodermic needles littering the area that needed to be cleaned up safely. The Department of Sanitation has an Environmental Police Unit that specializes in the safe removal of needles and other dangerous items. They sent four representatives from the Unit to each event to safely manage the removal of the needles, to insure that BCS staff and participants would not be at risk of infection or harm.

Youth Police Explorers and BCS ADP Crew Participants painting over graffiti behind the Paradise Theater
On Thursday, June 26, Bronx Community Solutions partnered with the 46th Police Precinct's Youth Explorers Program and a local church for a graffiti cleanup event. The Atlanta based church World Changers International recently purchased the historical Paradise Theater. Volunteers from the church, Youth Explorers from the 46th Police Precinct and BCS Adolescent Diversion Program community service participants worked together to clean-up graffiti that had accumulated on the wall behind the Paradise Theater and pick up trash and debris on the surrounding sidewalks. Local neighborhood activist Sidney Flores was present at the event, offering drinks to all the volunteers and speaking with community members. This graffiti clean-up was a part of the preparation for a Community Block party sponsored by the Church. Many community members spoke to us and expressed their gratitude for our efforts, thanking us for helping to engage local youths in maintaining and improving the community.

As the season gets in high gear we look forward to what is in store for Bronx Community Solutions and our transformative community service programs!
- Moises Reyes, Coordinator of Community Service
Bronx Community Solutions

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