Columbia Volunteers Help Revitalize Local Community Senior Reading Garden

On Friday, September 21st, over a dozen Columbia University volunteers participated in Lend Lease's Community Service Day project at the Grant Houses garden on West 125th Street just west of Amsterdam Avenue.  Volunteers cleaned, raked leaves, planted flowers, painted fences, repaired benches, and framed a gravel walkway leading into the garden; in addition, they used wood to repair benches, build a stage, planter boxes and community banner holders. This site was selected by Columbia and Lend Lease in cooperation with the West Harlem Local Development Cooperation, New York City Housing Authority and the Grant Houses Tenants Association.

"This service project was full of positive energy because so many people came together for the common purpose of beautifying the community," said Sarah Martin, President of General Grant Houses Residents Association. "Residents have already expressed their gratitude for the project and have volunteered to help maintain the garden. It was wonderful to see the project develop throughout the day. I felt like I was watching a flower bloom before my eyes." 

The revitalized Community Senior Reading Garden will serve as an open-area that encourages seniors and children to gather at the garden, read, play, and utilize the stage to recite poetry, conduct puppet shows, and small performances.

For the last four years, Lend Lease has worked with Columbia to help sustain community gardens.  "From Jenny's Garden at Riverside Park to the garden located on West 152nd Street next to the Wilson Major Morris Community Center and across the street from the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Lend Lease and Columbia have been working with the community to beautify and restore community gardens as part of the Lend Lease Community Service Day," La-Verna Fountain, Vice President for Construction Business Services said.  "This newest project continues that tradition and builds on all of the other ways Columbia works with the local community."

"We like to give back to the communities and the places where we work," said Ralph Esposito, executive vice president at Lend Lease. "People get to know us and see the good things that we do outside of building buildings and this is really important to us as a company," he added.

Columbia's faculty, students and staff have long engaged in partnerships and programs that provide services to individuals, families, schools and businesses in Upper Manhattan. "For those of us at Columbia working and building every day in the neighborhood, we appreciate the opportunity to give back with our labor and a passion for community improvement,"
said Philip Pitruzzello, Vice President of Manhattanville Development Group at Columbia University.