Many Fordham organizations are centered on service, dedicated to providing ongoing opportunities for volunteer work on a regular basis. But there are also sometimes events that occur just once a year, or even change annually. These programs allow students to have a one-day unique experience while giving back to this neighborhood we call home. One example of this was in the fall when the coordinators of New Student Orientation decided to incorporate a service project into the week of training for orientation leaders. They chose an environmental initiative, promoting sustainability right here in our local Bronx community.
The day was spent working with the NYC Parks Department on their TreesCount! project, which is the third census of trees throughout New York City. The goal of this mission is to map every street tree in the city, with “voluntreers” like us collecting data across the five boroughs. We had to register online in advance, read through the training module, and complete a quiz to make sure we understood. There was also a video that demonstrated the procedure of mapping trees, showing us what to do. The morning of service day, we got split into groups and assigned to different areas surrounding Fordham.
There were TreesCount! representatives stationed at our designated blocks to provide us with materials and support. We surveyed and analyzed all of the trees along the street as we walked, recording the information. Mapping included measurement, both of the trees themselves and distance between them, as well as evaluation of each tree’s health. When the census of trees is ultimately done, the NYC Parks Department will use all the data collected to create a Street Tree Map. Throughout the day, the New Student Orientation team logged a total of over 2,500 trees in the neighborhood.
Senior Service Day is an annual event organized by the Senior Week Committee, which is made up of students and supervisors who help plan various events for the senior class. This year there were four different sites available, each project with a different focus: Bissel Gardens, Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen, Murray-Weigel Hall, and Fordham’s own McGinley Center—where the day began. All volunteers gathered together for check in, finding out their assignment and having breakfast. Participants also received free t-shirts. Transportation to sites and all necessary supplies were provided, including snacks to bring along for the day.
All of the projects were located in the Bronx, allowing students to give back to our local community. Bissel Gardens gave students the opportunity to help prepare for the upcoming spring season by clearing the grounds, while volunteers who went to Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen assisted with the preparation of meals. Others went to Murray-Weigel Hall, the infirmary and retirement residence for Jesuits, where they facilitated conversation. Those who stayed back at the McGinley Center created cards for children in pediatric hospitals, as well as soldiers in the U.S. Army. It was a great day for the senior class to come together and do some good.