Did you know that when you want to Volunteer in Washington Square Park, the Conservancy is your solution to finding the perfect activity? WSPC manages all the volunteer programs in the Park, so if you’re walking through and see a volunteer hard at work, it’s guaranteed to be one of our folks.
But what does it take to join the ranks of the WSP Volunteer crew? We’ll tell you! There’s an option out there for nearly everyone. If you’ve got too much on your plate to make a long-term commitment, the Community Clean Ups are the opportunity for you. Just sign up on a session-to-session basis to join us on the second Saturday of the month to pitch in at the Park. If you’ve ready to take things to the next level, one of our seasonal-based programs might be for you, and it’s easier to join than you might think! This year we’re looking for Greeter/Guides if you’ve got a head for trivia and a love of chatting; Clean Teamers if you’re a Parkie who like to keep things tidy; and our newest program, the Washington Sq Waterers, who will help with maintaining newly planted trees. The application only takes a few minutes, and we’ll get you trained and equipped with everything you need to get to work.
While these various programs all have different duties and fulfill different needs for the Park, the way our volunteers tell it, there are a few traits that all good volunteers have in common:
Being a Volunteer in WSP can be tiring work! Whether you’re wheeling around a water barrel for trees, traipsing through the Park to pick up trash, or chatting up Park-users, you’ll be on-the-go from the minute you start your shift.
“Volunteering is therapeutic, but it’s also a good workout,” says Rob, a veteran volunteer. “I’m a fitness buff and I find I burn more calories here than I do in the gym.”
Not everyone finds it easy to speak to strangers, but when you volunteer in WSP you become part of the fabric of the Park. Folks will notice your efforts and are often eager to engage. For some of the roles, like the Greeter/Guides, that’s an essential part of the job; you’re there to interact with Park users. And it can be a very fulfilling experience!
“One of my favorite memories during a Greeter shift was getting to speak with an elderly couple that was visiting from Sante Fe,” says Greeter Emily. “They had memories of coming to the Park when they were younger and dating and it was so heart-warming. I love hearing people’s personal histories and their memories of being in the Park.”
But nearly every Volunteer has a story of being stopped by a random Park user. Wednesday Weeder Rob loves, “how interested little tiny tots are in gardening. They’re always asking questions, and are so eager to learn.”
HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR
The beauty of a place like Washington Square Park is you never know what you’re going to find, or who you’re going to interact with. Having a sense of humor about the unique and sometimes bizarre is essential. Like Clean Team volunteer Malcolm, who now laughs about the time he once found “a raw, heavily chewed t-bone steak…nowhere near the dog runs.”
No two days are the same in WSP, but keeping an up-beat attitude will keep you prepared for anything that might come your way. It’s especially important for Greeter/Guides, the most public facing of all the volunteer programs. There’s always someone who wants to chat, and we all know that the Park is FULL of colorful characters.
“Most people I have encountered have told me wonderful memories about their experiences visiting WSP.” Says Pat, a Greeter/Guide from the inaugural class. “Whether it’s where they met their significant other, saw their first Hippie, protested or heard music – the stories are told with nostalgic joy and enthusiasm.”
A DESIRE TO GIVE BACK
Whether you’re participating in a Community Clean Up, or committing to one of the seasonal programs, at the heart of every volunteer is a desire to give back. It’s the driving motivation that pulls people out of bed, off the couch, and into the Park. But don’t take our word for it:
“I had free time and I love the outdoors. Plus I have always been interested in gardening. And I believe, if we can, it’s most important to give back. – Rob, Wednesday Weeder
“Throughout the years I have spent a lot of time in the park – so when I learned I could actually help out there was no question in my mind about joining – Carmen.
“It’s incredibly satisfying to see the immediate results of my work, and spending time in such a pleasant place is a bonus. – Malcolm.
“The Park has been a part of my life growing up in NY and now being a Village resident for so many years I feel like it is my own personal green space. It is a source of joy for me in all seasons. When a friend noticed they were looking for volunteers I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to get involved and give back. People enjoy the park and I like to share the history and contribute to their knowledge of its significance.” – Pat.
Applications for the 2023 Season are open now. We’d love to have you on the team.