A Woodside man will be honored by the Partnership for Parks for starting a group made up of volunteers who clean neighborhood greenspaces and streets, remove graffiti and plant trees.
David Rosasco will receive the Golden Trowel Award for superb park activism from his Woodside Neighborhood Association, a group that sets an example for others around the city, according to the partnership.
The volunteer group started seven years ago.
“I had just returned after 12 years in Japan,” Rosasco said, “and I couldn’t believe the filth beneath the No. 7 subway station on 61st Street. I grabbed a broom and started sweeping. That was my introduction to volunteerism.”
People would join Rosasco and over time they graduated from daily sweeping to major projects on the weekends. Neighborhood churches and businesses became involved and in 2012 they partnered with Greening Western Queens, a conservation group that was born out of Con Edison’s $7.9 million settlement after the blackout of 2006.
Together they have planted 192 trees throughout Woodside and trained volunteers to care for them.
“We encourage and support New Yorkers who are devoted to caring for their local greenspaces and communities,” said Sabina Saragoussi, director of Partnerships for Parks. “David’s work embodies that same spirit. His dedicated and passionate efforts have had a visible, positive effect on his Woodside neighborhood.”
Rosasco developed his work ethic while studying language in Japan.
“In Japan, people do a lot more doing and less talking,” he said, adding that “ancient organizations and civic associations are more interested in fund-raising, they talk a good game.”
While Rosasco was happy to have the support of area leaders like City Councilmen Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) and Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), other elected officials came up short.
“If I wanted to put up luxury housing, then it would be so packed with politicians, there wouldn’t be enough oxygen in the room,” he said.
The Woodside Neighborhood Association enjoys support from the city Sanitation Department and the Long Island Rail Road.
“They never deny us anything,” said Rosasco. “All it took was to talk to the people on the ground.”
When he accepts the Golden Trowel Award Nov. 16 at Partnership for Parks’ citywide conference, Rosasco will lavish praise on the members of his group.
“They’re my comrades, I believe in the people of this community,” he said. “Everyone is working together. Washington, D.C., should take a look at us to see how it’s done.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry at firstname.lastname@example.org of by phone at 718-260-4538.
©2013 Community News Group
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