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Transcript: Mayor Eric Adams Delivers Remarks at Nonprofit Kickoff of "Spread Love NYC" Campaign

March 30, 2023

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Laura Rog, Chief Service Officer, NYC Service: Thank you so much, Tiffany, and I'm so thrilled to be here with all of you today to kick off our Spread Love New York City campaign. We're here today united by love for our communities and our investment in them. And I think we can safely assume that everyone in this room sees volunteering as a cornerstone to how our communities come together. As I look out at well over a hundred organizations represented here today, it's powerful to realize we get to spread the love for New York City with residents and get them involved in our neighborhoods and our communities through volunteering. We're a proud partner of the We Heart New York City campaign. I'm guessing you've probably heard a little bit on that lately over the last week, but regardless of how you feel about the logo, the heart of the campaign…[Laughter.]

Yes, everybody's got their opinions. We happen to love it. The heart of the campaign truly, and the message is real. That if anything that we've learned in the last three years and anything that it's taught us, it's about moving from I to we. We're coming together today with We Heart New York City, and we're all coming together as colleagues and friends across the city to show our commitment to the city that we love so much. With Spread Love NYC, we aim to use volunteering to create a culture where New York City residents both uplift each other as neighbors and take responsibility for the success of our city. What better gift of love is that? You'll hear more today about how we can come together to provide pathways for New York City residents to easily access meaningful, high quality service opportunities. We'll work together over the next nine months to offer a broad entry point for New Yorkers of all ages, all backgrounds, and all abilities to engage with your organization's few months.

Together, we can build their commitment as volunteers to our great city and as champions for your organizations. The love is real from where I'm standing and as I look out at all of you. My love is here for the work that you do each and every day. We have our collective love for the communities across all five boroughs and the great love for my team and the administration to support you. Thank you so much for committing to spread love with us across New York City. Now, I am so proud and pleased to introduce our next speaker, whose love for New York City runs deep, Mayor Eric Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams: Good to see you. Thank you. You do not stand for me. I stand for you. I'm here to serve you. Just thanks so much for all of you who's coming out and being part of this experience of spreading love. You are the choir, and many of you wrote the song about spreading love with your nonprofits and organizations. You do it every day, and it is something that's part of the DNA of New York City. I always tell the story of growing up in South Jamaica, Queens. We used to attend this small church. We used to call it the Cheers Church. Everyone knew your name and everyone was glad you came. We'd go during the night and worship, then come back in the evening. During the time in the middle, we used to have our dinner and mom was raising six children. She didn't often have that meal for us, and we would just put together scraps and just try to make due.

Then one evening after the service, a car caravan of women came to our house and they started unloading boxes of groceries and they brought it inside and placed it on the countertop. Late that night, I went downstairs and looked inside the boxes and they were all open, half a box of spaghetti, half a jar of marmalade, half a box of pancake mix. They could not afford to buy us groceries. They gave us half of what they had. I sat there that day with tears running down my face and just reflecting on that level of kindness and started to think about those gaps in our lives. We used to have something back there called a susu, where the neighbors would collect the money to help mommy pay the mortgage.

Easter time, you'll see six pairs of slacks and shirts on the back porch. Thanksgiving, you'll see canned goods and a Turkey on the back porch. Christmas, they would wrap up gifts and act like Santa Claus dropped them off for us in the morning. Throughout my entire life, people have been spreading love. People have been there, and that's who we are. We are a city where we love each other. Every Wednesday at 9:00 matter how busy I am, I'm on 34th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenue, giving out foods to New Yorkers who have fallen on hard times. I must tell you, I get more out of that experience than they do when they walk on that line from a shelter or from their home. They look there and they see the mayor dishing out food to them. You know what that does to their experience?

When you stop someone the street with your volunteerism and just help them, it just reignites their spirit and it just infuses hope into people. It means so much to me that you come out and want to be part of this campaign, that powerful four letter word, love, means so much and is defined in so many different ways that it is exciting that we had a pandemic that spread a virus. Now we have a pandemic of love, and we don't need a vaccine to prevent us from spreading it as much as possible. Every handshake, every conversation, there is no mask that can get in the way of the virus of love, of being part of what we do and how we operate in this city. And it's so important here because if you spread love in New York, it cascades throughout the entire country and people realize a challenged, complex, difficult city with 8.5 million people and 30 million opinions. If you can do it here in New York, it could happen anywhere on the globe.

It's an exciting moment because people are hurting. You can see it in their faces. That old negro ballad that used to say, "If you take a close look at my face, you see my smile is at a place in the tracks of my tears." You see it every day. You are on the train. People may be having a smile, but when you look closely, they're worried, they're concerned, they're unsure about the tomorrow. We are going to infuse a different spirit and emotion into New Yorkers. That's what this campaign is about. It's part of our breaking bread, building bonds. A thousand dinners across this city, 10 people at minimum at each dinner, all coming from a different background, different ethnic group using the lubricating value of a meal to engage in something revolutionary. Just talking to each other, just looking out and say, why do you wear the turbine? Why do you wear the yamaka? Why do you wear the kufi? Why do you wear the hijab? What is your culture about? Why do I learn from you?

This amazing place with the diversity that we have is just an opportunity every day to grow another inch and being better people. It's an amazing ecosystem we have here. We are the pollinators. We must pollinate the garden called New York and spread love the way New York City knows how to do it. Let's make this happen and let's love some folks. Thank you very much.

Tiffany Tucker-Pryor, Deputy Chief Service Officer, NYC Service: You heard it here, you heard it live and direct. The mayor wants us to continue doing what we do best, spread love. Simple, right? We can do this. Yeah? All right. Because we're going to be sending people your way. Again, we want to thank you all for the work that you do, and we really do appreciate you. The next person you're going to hear from is our chief engagement officer, Betsy MacLean, and please give her a round of applause.

Betsy MacLean, Chief Engagement Officer: Thank you. Thank you. Hi everybody. It's so good to be with you. My name's Betsy MacLean, I'm the Chief engagement Officer for the city. Funnily enough, on my way over here, I was reading the World Happiness Report for 2023, and you'll be interested to know, very timely, you'll be interested to know that three indicators for happiness are helping a stranger, donating, and volunteering, which means that you all have your finger on the pulse of the happiness of the entire globe and you're making it happen. Super appreciate y'all being here, and I'm just really thrilled to be here myself. Before I came to City Hall in January of last year, I worked for maybe 20 years in nonprofits working with Communities for Justice, for Change, for Community Development and so have, I think, a kind of very deep understanding of the unique and critically important role that community-based organizations play in our neighborhoods and throughout our city.

I've had a chance to work with many of you. I'm seeing familiar people in the audience and I'm so happy. Anyway, I feel like without that kind of critical social infrastructure, that that is the lifeblood of the city. I know we hear it as like nonprofit professionals all the time. I think we probably should hear it more and more and more and more because Lord knows we're not in it for the money. Really just so appreciative of all the work that you're doing every day in communities and particularly excited about this opportunity to really make plain the connection that I know you all feel, because I feel it. I feel it now in my role in the city, but certainly felt it when I was working in East New York or in the Rockaways or in Mott Haven, that real deep love for neighborhoods, for neighbors, for our fellow New Yorkers, and really making kind of manifest one of my favorite all-time quotes by philosopher Kahlil Gibran that work is love made visible.

With that said, I'm excited for us all to get to work, to spread some love, to be clear about what we're doing, which is loving each other and doing that in the name of equity and justice. Before I go, I want to say a couple of thank yous. Thank you to the mayor, of course, thank you to the amazing New York City Service team who pulled all of this together in a very short amount of time, to the remarkable Laura Rog and Tiffany Tucker-Pryor. Also really want to thank our NeON photographers who are here. Who… Yes, awesome. Damien, Anthony and [inaudible] are here.

They're part of the Department of Probation's really remarkable and inspiring NeON Arts program. If you don't know about it, Google it and get connected because they're doing just remarkable work and really appreciate all of you. Thank you. That's it for me. We have a big packed agenda for the rest of the afternoon. Really want to mostly hear from you all. I'll turn it over to Tiffany who has, I think, a little more. Thank you so much for coming out today and just great to be here with you.

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