Printer Friendly Format Email a Friend

PR- 530-09
December 8, 2009


Ads Featuring Local Volunteers Were Produced by NYC & Company and Air Time Donated by Local TV and Cable Media Partners

New Volunteer Programs for Urban Beautification and Obesity Prevention Introduced

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the launch of a new NYC Service television ad campaign to promote volunteer service in New York City. Involving more New Yorkers in service is a key goal of NYC Service, Mayor Bloomberg’s comprehensive blueprint to increase civic engagement. The 30-second public service announcements are a component of the “Give Your BLANK” campaign, which is built on the concept that everyone has something to give: their time, their skills, their passion – their “blank.”  The campaign asks New Yorkers who want to give back to come forward and use their “blank” in volunteer service.  The advertisements feature regular New Yorkers giving their “blank” to improve New York City communities and are expected to run on at least six television stations and on cable television. The Mayor also announced the start of two new NYC Service volunteer initiatives: Love Your (NYC) Block and Shape Up New York.  The Love Your (NYC) Block program will help volunteer-led community groups, block associations and civic groups revitalize and transform their neighborhood blocks by linking them with services provided by City agencies and providing $500 grants to cover other project costs.  The Shape Up New York program will recruit volunteer fitness instructors to expand the number of free fitness courses available throughout the five boroughs, helping to prevent obesity. The Mayor was joined at the announcement by the City’s Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford; Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe; NYC & Company  CEO George Fertitta; and President of the Citizens Committee for New York City Peter H. Kostmayer.

Everyone’s got a ‘blank’,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Whether it’s a special talent, free time, know-how, or simply a willingness to pitch in – every New Yorker has something to offer. In the mist of this national recession, the City needs your ‘blank’ now more than ever. Visit or call 311 to find an opportunity to volunteer in your neighborhood and help us address some of our City’s most pressing challenges through volunteer service.”

NYC Service has already recruited more than 14,000 volunteers who’ve performed nearly 200,000 hours of service, but in order to make the impact we want to make citywide, we need to continue to grow our volunteer corps,” said Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford.  “The ‘Give Your BLANK’ campaign is central to our recruiting efforts.  Everyone has something they can give. Whether it’s Shape Up New York, Love Your (NYC) Block or any of our other programs, NYC Service is available year-round to help you use your ‘blank’ for good.”

The “Give Your BLANK” spots feature real New York City volunteers, shot in documentary style, speaking about their volunteer stories, their passion for giving back and how they are using their “blank” to address a need in the City. 

To view the first two “Give Your BLANK” advertisements click here. Two additional ads are currently in production.

Media partners that have generously donated air time to run the ad campaign at no cost to the City include: WCBS-TV; WNBC-TV; WNYW-TV; WABC-TV; WPIX-TV; WNJU-TV; Time Warner Cable – New York City Region; and Cablevision.  The ads are expected to appear this month and will run through the first quarter of 2010.

NYC & Company, the city’s marketing, tourism and partnership organization, developed the “Give Your BLANK” ads in collaboration with BBH New York, NYC & Company’s agency of record and the production company Anonymous Content.  BBH and New York and Anonymous Content generously donated their services.  The spots were directed by Sorrel Ahlfeld under the creative vision of BBH Creative Directors Pelle and Calle Sjönell and NYC & Company’s Chief Creative Officer Willy Wong.

NYC Service gives all New Yorkers an opportunity to give back to the City in their own way,” said NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta.  “As highlighted by the ‘BLANK’ campaign, each of us has something special and unique to offer.  NYC & Company, with the help of our media sponsors and the great creative team at Bartle Bogle Hagerty, is proud to help Mayor Bloomberg make New York the model city for tapping the power of civic minded citizens.”

Debra Myers, a volunteer participating in the Love Your (NYC) Block program and Dr. Howard Sichel, a volunteer participating in the Shape Up New York program spoke about the reason they chose to give their “blank.”  Yvonne Short and Christopher Banks, the volunteers featured in the two television ads unveiled today, also joined the Mayor at the announcement.

The “Give Your BLANK” campaign was launched in April with donated advertising on bus shelters, telephone kiosks, street banners, taxi passenger information monitors and in print and radio advertising.  The advertising space donated to date is valued at $5.4 million.

To participate in the Love Your (NYC) Block program, the Shape Up New York program or any other NYC Service program go to or call 311.

Love Your (NYC) Block

Love Your (NYC) Block aims to beautify 100 blocks throughout the five boroughs by linking volunteer-led groups with services provided by City agencies, including the Departments of Transportation, Sanitation and Parks and Recreation.  Additionally, the program will provide each group with a $500 grant to cover project costs.  Fifty neighborhood volunteer teams will be selected for the program. The City agencies working with the groups selected will provide support services, including graffiti removal, repairing damaged or missing street signage and streetlights, ticketing illegal dumping sites and replacing worn-out or missing litter baskets. Love Your (NYC) Block expands on a successful pilot program completed this spring, which focused on 12 volunteer-led community groups in 12 neighborhoods across the five boroughs. These groups mobilized hundreds of volunteers, who worked more than 4,000 combined hours, to transform their neighborhood blocks.  Love Your (NYC) Block is the result of a partnership between NYC Service and the Citizens Committee for New York City.

“The highly successful urban beautification program we conducted this spring demonstrated how much can be accomplished through partnerships between local communities and City government,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Edward Skyler, who oversaw the implementation of the pilot program.  “City streets are cleaner than anytime in history, but we can always do more.  The volunteers working with the Love Your (NYC) Block program will be using their ‘blank’ to help us build on the progress we have made in improving neighborhood quality of life.”

“Citizens Committee for New York City has been funding volunteer, resident-led groups for more than 30 years,” said Peter H. Kostmayer, President of the Citizens Committee for New York City. “Putting a face on City agencies and their hardworking employees by connecting them to residents engaged in local cleanup projects improves communities, saves taxpayer dollars and connects more New Yorkers to their city.”

Community organizations interested in beautifying blocks in their neighborhoods should go to or call 311 to apply. A report summarizing the successful pilot project from this past spring is also available at

Shape Up New York

Shape Up New York will help prevent obesity by using volunteers with expertise in fitness to expand the number of free fitness classes available in parks, community centers and other locations across the city.  Approximately 100 new volunteer fitness instructors will be recruited to teach Shape Up New York classes, expanding the number of free classes offered to allow 500 more New Yorkers access to free fitness education and training. The new instructors will also diversify class offerings, bringing new fitness disciplines, from Pilates and dance to martial arts and yoga, to Shape Up New York sites. The program is a partnership of NYC Service, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“Whatever your strengths, Shape Up New York can help you break a sweat without breaking the bank,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.  “With locations around the City, and with a variety of programs to choose from, ranging from yoga to dance, entire families can get fit for the holiday season and throughout the year.  We are grateful to all the New Yorkers who, through NYC Service, are using their ‘blank’ to help expand this program.”

Fitness instructors interested in volunteering should visit or call 311.

About NYC Service

NYC Service was launched by Mayor Bloomberg in April 2009 to meet his State of the City pledge for New York City to lead the nation in answering President Obama’s national call to volunteerism. The program has three core goals: channel the power of volunteers to address the impacts of the current economic downturn, make New York the easiest city in America in which to serve, and ensure every young person in New York City is taught about civic engagement and has an opportunity to serve. NYC Service aims to drive volunteer resources to six impact areas where New York City’s needs are greatest: strengthening communities, helping neighbors in need, education, health, emergency preparedness and the environment. New Yorkers can find opportunities to serve their communities by visiting or by calling 311.


Stu Loeser / Marc La Vorgna   (212) 788-2958

More Resources
View the Photos