A waterfront park in Whitestone looks much cleaner thanks to the leadership of a young community-minded resident.
On April 7, close to 30 volunteers descended on Francis Lewis Park, located at Third Avenue and 147th Street, to give the public space a spring cleaning.
The project began when 21-year-old local Rita Cinquemani reached out to the We Love Whitestone civic association on behalf of her student organization, Alpha Phi Omega, at Hofstra University. The student said the group was looking for service opportunities in the area and took note of a civic member’s call for a cleanup at the park.
After coordinating with civic members and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, the date was set. Volunteers from Hofstra’s Women’s Club Ultimate Frisbee team also signed on to offer their assistance.
“These student organizations are always looking out for opportunities to help out their local communities,” Cinquemani said.
The group cleaned the park in about three hours, spending time on the beach and in the wooded area. Cinquemani said she and volunteers were surprised to discover much of the trash found along the shoreline was recyclables.
After finding a number of plastic straws during the cleanup, Cinquemani and members of her service organization agreed to cut the product out of their daily lives.
“It was surprising to see a large amount of litter. There were multiple layers of trash, as well,” she said. “A lot of the trash we found was plastic: bags, bottles, wrappers.”
Cinquemani said she will look into organizing another cleanup effort in the fall.
The group’s act was celebrated on We Love Whitestone’s Facebook page.
“Huge thank you to Rita Cinquemani and her group of volunteers for cleaning up the Francis Lewis Park beach,” civic president Alfredo Centola wrote. “And [thank you] to Blanca Rodriguez for helping take care of all the incidentals.”