A springtime tradition since 2002, the Daffodil Breakfast celebrates individuals and organizations whose dedication to their neighborhood and city exemplifies the Daffodil Project’s spirit of volunteerism and stewardship. The Breakfast helps to fund NY4P's work through the Daffodil Project.
The Daffodil Breakfast was on Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Meet the 2017 Daffodil Breakfast honorees:
Lynden B. Miller Citywide Daffodil Award
Rick Gordon, Franco Mucciacciaro and Ivan Lopez, NYC Parks Storehouse
The Daffodil Project has been a partnership between NYC Parks and NY4P since it began in the fall of 2001. As a small nonprofit organization, NY4P relies on the help of the incredible staff at the NYC Parks Storehouse in the Bronx. Rick Gordon (now at Randall’s Island), Franco Mucciacciaro, and Ivan Lopez have been the behind-the-scenes lifeblood of the Daffodil Project since day one. Each fall, approximately 500,000 daffodil bulbs are shipped to the Parks Storehouse, where the Parks crew ensures that the hundreds of thousands of daffodil bulbs NY4P distributes for free get exactly where they need to go. Simply put, without the help of the Storehouse crew, there would be no Daffodil Project. For their years of dedicated service to this five borough beautification project, NY4P recognizes these gentlemen with the Lynden B. Miller Citywide Daffodil Award.
Borough Daffodil Awards
A lifelong resident of the Bronx, Nilka Martell grew up playing at the same parks that she now successfully advocates for. In 2016, Virginia Park and Playground and Hugh Grant Circle were awarded $5 million through NYC Parks’ Parks Without Borders program, in large part due to Nilka’s advocacy. Called the “Mayor of Parkchester” by NY1, Nilka is the founder of Loving the Bronx, which engages the Bronx community in public space stewardship, including planting approximately 1,500 daffodils since 2011. She is also the co-chair of the Bronx Coalition for Parks and Green Space, which organizes the annual Bronx Parks Speak Up, the only grassroots borough-wide annual parks conference in the city.
Brooklyn – Marlene Pantin, Red Hook Conservancy
When Marlene Pantin pushed the Red Hook Recreation Center to get a piece of furniture that would allow women to use the weight room year-round, she had no idea it would eventually lead her to found the Red Hook Conservancy in 2011. But when other rec center members witnessed her success they asked her to push for additional improvements, and before too long they were advocating for the entire center and the surrounding park. Marlene and the other founders of the Conservancy find that a well-maintained park motivates residents to exercise, create art, and build community, and that it creates a safer neighborhood. The well-maintained park encourages young people to become more involved in sports, arts, and music, rather than violence, which once plagued the Red Hook community. The Conservancy plants daffodils, brings children’s art programming to the playground, gets community members engaged in gardening and other healthy activities, does volunteer maintenance in the park year-round, and much more. Their goal is to raise significant funds to support the work that is needed in the park and recreation center. They also plan to develop a robust environmental education program that enables children and youth in the community to be actively involved in the designs and plans for gardens and other areas in the park.
Manhattan – George Reis, NYU Landscaping
George Reis began working as a gardener at New York University in 1995, and is now the Grounds Manager for the entire campus. Even though many people don’t think of NYU as a landscaped campus, it has as much green space as Washington Square Park, only distributed over a wider area. Because NYU has no gates or walls the green spaces are truly public, there for the entire Greenwich Village community to enjoy. Over time, George noticed how these small green spaces positively impacted the thousands of people who pass by and through them every day. Then he met Lynden Miller, cofounder of the Daffodil Project, who inspired him to deepen his study of public horticulture. George is passionate about the important role that green spaces play in a healthy urban ecosystem, and how NYU can contribute. The mission of the Daffodil Project perfectly aligns with his work in public horticulture, and NYU has participated in the Project since its founding in 2001. Young students from area grade schools participate in daffodil bulb plantings in the fall, getting a hands-on education in the benefits of urban gardening.
Staten Island – Mary McInerney and Lee Regenbogen, The Hungerford School
A special needs middle and high school on Staten Island, The Richard H. Hungerford School educates children of varying abilities using a multi-sensory approach. The school is in the process of starting a school garden which will beautify the grounds and give the students a more pleasurable experience. The school’s motto is “Never dis our abilities,” but the students’ ambition shouldn’t be discounted, either. The students crave the opportunity to take responsibility for a garden, and in the process Lee Regenbogen, MaryMcInerney, and the other staff will teach them the benefits of having one. The students at Hungerford just planted their first daffodil bulbs in fall of 2016, but they’ve got big plans for their little garden. The school will eventually use the fruits and vegetables they grow in their lunchroom, and share what they’ve learned with other organizations looking to start a garden.
Queens – Erycka de Jesus, The NYC Compost Project hosted by Big Reuse
If you’ve spent any time in Western Queens, you’ve probably benefitted from the work of Erycka de Jesus. In her free time she plants daffodils and cares for street trees across her neighborhood of Astoria; she facilitates the Ravenswood Houses community sustainability group; she’s a member of the Friends of Rainey Park and Friends of Ravenswood Playground; is a member of the of the local City Harvest Community Action Network; and is a mentor for the young people at her community center. At her nine-to-five job doing outreach for the NYC Compost Project hosted by Big Reuse, she works with open space and ecological stewards across Western Queens and Northern Brooklyn. The Daffodil Project is integral to Big Reuse’s fall street tree care stewardship, and they find that the Project is a powerful way to demonstrate the importance of community engagement and environmental sustainability.
Special Parks Pioneer Award
Steve Chesler and Katherine Thompson, Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park
For the past two years, Steve Chesler and Katherine Thompson have been at the center of a David versus Goliath-worthy story about a group of committed community members working together to put pressure on the New York City Government and a wealthy landowner. Their work has been so original, forward thinking, and dedicated, that New Yorkers for Parks is recognizing them at this year’s Daffodil Breakfast with a special “Parks Pioneer Award.” They began participating in the Daffodil Project in late 2016. This was shortly after their activism led the City to finally commit to completing Bushwick Inlet Park, which it had promised to the Williamsburg and Greenpoint communities over 11 years prior. They have now turned their incredible energy to preserving and enhancing the park. The Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park see their role as both ensuring that the development of the park continually moves forward, and helping to connect the community through park-based activities and education. The Daffodil Project is one of the many tools they use to do both.
Learn about our 2016 honorees:
2016 Lynden B. Miller CITYWIDE Daffodil Award Recipient
Trees New York
Trees New York was founded in 1976 as a volunteer response to New York City’s cutbacks in forestry and tree-related community services. For 40 years Trees New York has worked to plant, preserve and protect New York City’s trees through education and community participation. Through our signature program, the Citizen Pruner Course, Trees New York has trained over 11,500 volunteers to care for our urban forest. They are extremely proud to be celebrating their 40th Anniversary this year. Trees New York has participated in the Daffodil Project since it began in 2001, planting thousands of bulbs in street tree pits throughout the city.
Petrona Smith, Boller Avenue Resident Tree Lovers
As an active member of her local Community Board’s Sanitation Committee, Ms. Smith became interested in caring for the tree pits on her block after realizing they were becoming magnets for litter and other refuse. In 2014, Ms. Smith learned about the Daffodil Project, and distributed the bulbs she received to her neighbors and local business owners as a way to encourage the community to become active stewards of the local street trees. Since then, her efforts have resulted in thousands of daffodils blooming along her residential block, as well as the business corridor nearby.
The Prospect Heights Street Tree Task Force (PHSTTF)
Started by a graduate of the Trees New York Citizen Pruner program, the PHSTTF became a local effort to improve the health and conditions of street trees throughout the Prospect Heights community. The planting of Daffodil Project bulbs has been a component of the Task Force’s service projects since it started in 2009, offering a way to both improve the soil health of tree pits, and beautify them each spring. In recent years, PHSTTF has expanded their efforts further into Crown Heights, and also begun to offer educational workshops to neighbors about street tree care and stewardship.
The Chelsea Garden Club
When the city installed a protected bike lane along Eighth Avenue in 2010, multiple street trees were incorporated along the block. Realizing these tree pits needed stewardship and beautification, the Chelsea Garden Club was born. Community members have used Daffodil Project bulbs as a way to provide spring beautification, and their efforts also include the planting of pollinator-friendly plants and flowers that bloom in the warmer months. Their network of volunteers has expanded to adopt the bike lane pits along Eight and Ninth Avenues, from 17th to 30th Streets.
The Jackson Heights Beautification Group (JHBG)
In 1989, the Jackson Heights Beautification Group began as a community-led effort to beautify the neighborhood, and advocate for the parks and gardens of the neighborhood. Jackson Heights has one of the lowest ratios of open space per resident in the entire city, making the volunteer efforts of the JHBG vital to the improvement and increased accessibility of what little parkland there is to serve this incredibly diverse community. In addition to stewarding the main local open space, Travers Park, the JHBG saw the need to expand into street tree care. In neighborhoods as park-poor as Jackson Heights, street trees provide valuable green space, and their efforts have led to beautified, well-tended street trees throughout the community.
H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths
H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths, Inc. is a nonprofit formed for the charitable and educational purposes of assisting youth in New York City. They strive to combat community deterioration and juvenile delinquency, improve the quality of education, health care and life-skills training offered to adolescence and young adults. While they work citywide, they have focused their primary efforts in the North Shore of Staten Island. After identifying a need to get young people in the neighborhood positively engaged with parks and open space, the organization partnered with Councilmember Debi Rose to do a long-term tree stewardship project in St. George, Staten Island that also involved planting daffodils in and around tree beds. Since 2013, they have planted thousands of daffodils with local teens and member of the local NYPD Precinct.