The week, we have a guest blogger- Chris Petitt is a community member and past volunteer with the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park. We are thankful for his volunteer efforts and for sharing his experience with us.
“My decision to support Van Cortlandt Park as a volunteer was inspired by my daughter; the spirit of the first event I attended made me come back. Several years ago my wife and I began to search for a new home and that search took on greater urgency when she became pregnant a few months later. After unproductive visits to a number of neighborhoods, an acquaintance suggested we try the Kingsbridge/Riverdale area, which had not been on our radar. It turned out that this area had two things that were hard to find elsewhere: spacious apartments and a lot of open, green space. For us, the deal-making moment occurred when we visited an apartment that looked out over Van Cortlandt Park. We knew that we had found the place where our daughter would meet the world and experience her first moments of enchantment.
After living with the park for a year or so, I was happy to be introduced to a volunteer opportunity there. Friends of Van Cortlandt Park was hosting a reforestation program and I joined a group of my own friends to take part in it. On the day of the event, I really didn’t know what to expect. As it turned out, the leadership and organization of the effort made the work easier. The veteran volunteers did the necessary teaching about the reasons for the clearing and planting and gave the newbies the guidance to get the work done. I’d feared that the enthusiasm of the group would flag early and that the crowd would melt away with just a little work done. My experience was quite different. All of the volunteers stayed until the end of day and were ready to continue working – if there would have been work left to do.
All in all, there was a real sense of fun and accomplishment. Now my daughter looks for the trees we planted that day and is delighted to see how they’ve grown.
It turns out that my wife and I were right to set up home here. We visit the park nearly every day, though the frost of this past winter tried hard to keep us away. And, we use every part of the park, the playgrounds, the trails, walks by the lake, and visits to Van Cortlandt House and the nearby nature center, among its other amenities. To me, taking care of the park has become a way of taking care of my family.”- Chris Petitt