Residents of Boulevard Houses in Brooklyn join an NYC Civic Corps volunteer as they use some of the equipment donated to them through one of NYCHA's partners.

By Heidi Morales

More and more people are looking at ways to reduce their carbon footprint. And although individual efforts to go Green are important, a collective effort among neighborhoods, local schools, churches and community organizations is needed to make a palpable difference in the movement toward environmental awareness.

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) understands the importance of such partnerships in accomplishing its sustainability goals. This is why NYCHA will continue to work with the NYC Civic Corps volunteers, a group of AmeriCorps members assigned to work at non-profit and public organizations to build infrastructure and programs that will enhance volunteerism. They will educate residents about how to organize sustainable Resident Green Committees (RGCs) to reduce energy consumption, reverse the effects of climate change and preserve public housing.

NYCHA values partners like NYC Civic Corps and relies on the support of others like Citizens Committee for New York City to provide funding for innovative programming at the development level and keep residents engaged with the Green Agenda and with their neighbors and community at large. Earlier this year, Citizens Committee awarded $500 to five RGCs as part of a "Love Your Block" grant to assist them in beautifying their communities. The groups have used the funds to organize cleanup days, purchase flowers for community gardens, build tree guards and conduct workshops.

Material for the Arts is another non-profit organization that has provided support and assistance to NYCHA in its efforts to get residents to go Green. Material for the Arts receives donations of goods and supplies from corporate partners, which are passed on to non-profit organizations and City agencies. Some RGCs have received paint and fabric for banners, while some Community Centers have received chairs, tools and books.

Another important partner in NYCHA's Green movement is the Mayor's Fund for NYC, which has donated 280 Tree Care Tool Kits to RGC members who commit to caring for or adopting trees at their development.

"We are very proud of what we have been able to accomplish with the help of our Civic Corps volunteers and other partners," said NYCHA Environmental Coordinator Margarita López. "The resident participation has been outstanding and the programs we've been able to develop have been innovative, timely and well-received. NYCHA residents have really made a difference and we hope that this year we can build on our past success and add more members to our RGCs."

The Civic Corps volunteers, who started on August 30, have very ambitious goals for the next 10 months. The group of eight has been assigned to strengthen the work of existing RGCs. In addition, they will work with residents to create 25 new RGCs at developments throughout the five boroughs.