COMMUNITY SERVICE: “I do community outreach for a living, and it’s always been a part of my life. Even my introduction to New York was through community service when I moved here four years ago to work with the Parks Department, so I really only known New York City in general through community service.
Most of my volunteering involves environmental outreach, and eventually I became involved with the Hunters Point Library. I wanted to find a way to become involved in my local community, because most of what I do is helping other people to do the same. One of the things that makes me feel good is seeing people involved in their communities. When I see people giving their time to do things they don’t necessarily have to do, I think that’s really special and it makes me very happy.”
BACKGROUND: “I was born and raised in Idaho, and when people are involved in their communities in a smaller place like that, it’s a lot more noticeable. In college I studied French and political science, and I also worked with libraries during and after my college career. That part of my life was pretty important when it comes to connecting with people. After that, I worked at an organic farm in my college town in northern Idaho, and that made me aware of local food systems and the importance of knowing where food comes from.”
“My mother is also a community organizer, so being part of communities is in my blood. I just can’t help it, I love living in a city meeting people from all over the world, and this is the kind of place where everyone comes together and finds a common ground. In New York, people can connect, find something they care about, and work to share that with other people.”
FAVORITE MEMORY: “I taught an outreach educational program at the Botanical Gardens for two years. One of many favorite memories is when I got that chance to work with New Yorkers who were really committed to changing their communities. I still keep in touch with most of them today, and today many of them are people who have dedicated themselves to making a positive change in their communities. They’ve built community networks all over Queens and are thriving, and I feel very honored to have that impact on their lives. The people I taught went on to really change the ways their communities interact with each other.”
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “One of the biggest challenges I’ve had, especially doing environmental outreach in the city, is getting people into the frame of mind that we’re part of a bigger global environment, and that our everyday actions do actually have an impact on the ecological world around us. It’s hard to get people to forget about their everyday needs when we live in New York, and we really do get wrapped up in this world. What we forget that there is a huge world outside of us, and we create so much trash and pollution. There are people who are really interested in taking care of this world, but it takes a lot of time to change the thinking of the larger group of people.”
INSPIRATION: “The best feeling for me is connecting with people who never thought about changing the world before. There’s a moment when you’re talking to them, and you can see something switch off in their heads. I love when people realize how important it is to take care of their communities, and that moment never gets old for me. I like connecting with people and sharing information with them, and when they realize how easy it is to make a change and make a huge difference, that is extremely inspirational and exciting.”