The fact that I don’t really do much good for humanity every week really bothers me. It’s so easy to fret over inconsequential things — but thankfully New York Cares makes it easy to start thinking about other people, too.

I’ve done a few volunteer projects over the past year, but now I’ve decided to get really stuck in. Eager to get outside and use our hands, Ryan and I signed up for the ‘Beautify Prospect Park’ project on Saturday — and it was a great way to begin.

About 50 volunteers gathered in the park to be assigned projects — either weeding or painting run-down benches. We were in the latter group, so grabbed pot of paints, brushes, gloves and scrapers and joined with another volunteer, Danielle, to track down some sorry-looking benches.

Then we got to work — scraping off old paint, slapping on new stuff and going over the metal details.

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The activity was three hours long, although we agreed we could’ve done an hour or two more. It was glorious being outside — especially because my job involves sitting on my tusch for 11 hours a day. Another great (and unexpected) part was just how many people were walking past and saying ‘thank you!’ to us for our work. That felt pretty good.

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New York Cares is unbelievably flexible — you simply attend a half-an-hour orientation and then search their website for projects. They categorize them by time of day, type of activity, neighborhood and even by nearest subway stop. If you don’t love the project, you can try something else instead – no questions asked – which I think is a pretty smart way to retain volunteers.

Check it out. I look forward to doing some more good soon!

(And afterwards, we definitely deserved the world’s best tempeh sandwiches from Brooklyn Commune:)