Chris, PLACE Student 2013

Recently Chris joined us as a team leader on our national day of service project at Mullaly Park, an event we run with multiple local colleges. Two years ago he was a member of Barbara‘s team at Franz Sigel Park back in 2013. When it came time to organize the groups of volunteers for the day’s stewardship project, Chris expertly held the attention of the college students gathered around him. He spoke clearly and confidently and had the crowd laughing with a joke or two. And once the work started, he kept them motivated. In just a few hours, Chris’s team had weeded and mulched all the tree pits on the south side of the park. And he got along with the college students from Fordham so well that they invited him to hang out back at their campus.

Chris nds
Chris as a team leader in 2015

That afternoon Chris said his time with The Bronx is Blooming helped him become the person he is. He talked about the confidence it gave him. He even credited his comfort on top a motorcycle to that same confidence.

We talked with Chris later to find out more about how his experience in PLACE affected him. He admitted he wasn’t always such an effective communicator. “I was struggling with that. With The Bronx is Blooming I met a lot of people and learned how to work together and cooperate with them.”

Because of just how well he can manage a team of older volunteers, it’s easy to forget that Chris is still only a senior in high school. Once he gets to college, Chris plans on studying to become an educator, an ambition that was fueled by his time with The Bronx is Blooming. “You guys gave us a lot of information,” he said, “and I had to share that with our volunteers which we could consider students, if you think about it.” Being a team leader helped Chris discover that teaching people something new can be a gratifying experience.

Chris’s good memories of his time with The Bronx is Blooming have encouraged him to come back as a volunteer multiple times. “I came back because I enjoyed my experience when I was with The Bronx is Blooming. When I had joined in 2013, I really enjoyed working with Barbara, working with Jenn, working with Carlos. Everyone was so nice and super cool.”

It’s great to see the lessons of our program are still helping Chris a few years after we first met him. “What I learned here I take with me to other places,” he said.