New York Veterans Volunteer at Ellis Island
By Vu Nguyen, staff
The Mission Continues is a nonprofit organization, empowering military veterans to continue their service in new ways, and empower communities with veteran leadership, talent, and skills to generate visible impact. In 2018, as an organization, we completed over 1500 service projects, engaged over 21,000 volunteers, completed over 99,000 total service hours. We have over 80 different groups located across the country.
And since we are a nonprofit organization, that work does not happen without the support of our sponsors and donors. We have a lot of service campaigns we do throughout the year like MLK, Day, Earth Day, 9/11, Veterans Day. We have a lot of wonderful sponsors that make sure that large events like this can happen. This year was have Fox Sports, ESPN, and Goldman Sachs.
Wrapped into those large numbers I gave you are things we do locally in New York City and Newark. Our five groups in New York work in East Harlem, in Brownsville, and in the South Bronx, Queens, and Central Ward in Newark. None of that work is possible without our sponsors. Our sponsors locally are Citi, Wells Fargo, and Prudential.
I also want to thank some volunteer groups that came out to volunteer. We have folks from Bank of America, USAA, Boeing, Major League Baseball. Thank you to all of our volunteers who got up early in the morning to be part of our work today.
I get a chance to find military veterans who have completed their service and feel like there is still something more they want to give. I coach and mentor them on how to tackle big issues like hunger, homelessness, fixing basketball courts, and coming out to national parks like this. I also build partnerships with other nonprofits, because we are force-multipliers to help them with what they’re already doing. We want to help them do what they do, and get to the vision of what they want to achieve faster with the help of veteran leadership and community members coming out to help.
In Manhattan we partner with Harlem Grown, who involve youth in growing food. But they also grow the kids too. We work with an organization called Dreamyard, that helps social justice and help kids think about opportunity and use art as a catalyst for that.
We work with NYC Parks to fix up some of the neglected city parks that haven’t been touched in 20-30 years to make sure kids there get a wonderful place to play in.
We just launched operations in Queens this year working with the Brooklyn-Queens Landtrust that owns over 35 community gardens to make sure those are still hubs for people to connect with their fellow community members.
We also work with NYC Housing Authority at Queensbridge, NY’s largest public housing development, activating spaces that haven’t been utilized in 10-15 years to make sure people get out and use them to create a sense of community.
In Newark we partner with the Boys and Girls Club in Central Ward to help the community reinvent the spaces that we share to change the perception of that area and make better things happen there.
Once special partnership I’ve been happy to cultivate over the years is with the National Park Service. Four years ago we did a 9/11 event in Staten Island at Fort Wadsworth, we spent two days clearing out 20 tons worth of trash at Fort Tompkins which is on top of Fort Wadsworth. It’s been closed to the public for 10 years because of all the trash. It was just a hazard.
In two days we removed 20 tons worth of trash and they were able to open the park to visitors. Now they have 10,000 visitors in that space each year. And in 2017 we did our first project at Ellis Island and did a good enough job to be invited back in 2018, and again this year.
Jerry Willis, public affairs officer, gave some remarks as well. He said, “I feel like the national park service and The Mission Continues are kindred spirits. We are service driven. The national park service is responsible for the lands and places that Americans have set aside as their sacred places. And we are charged with protecting and preserving them for this and future generations. And the mission continues takes that service to a whole other level. You have stood up and put yourself on the frontlines to defend the values of this country. We are so grateful for your service and we are especially grateful that you’ve decided to continue your service in your national parks.”
We had 121 volunteers on site that helped complete over 480 hours of total combined service and we were able to build 3 picnic tables, put a fresh coat of paint on handrails in front of Ferry Slip, build 18 tables for an educational space, remove old IT equipment and furniture to create the educational space, weed and revitalize Fort Gibson, remove over 10 bags of weeds from the main building, mulch over 30 trees around the main building, weed and clear invasive species from the B&D building courtyard, mulch over 20 trees on the south side of the island, paint 4 public facing window sills at the New Ferry Building, and fill over 200 sandbags.
Special shout out to our sponsors and partners at Fox Sports, ESPN, and Goldman Sachs for making this day of service possible. Thanks again for joining us to help protect and preserve one of the most iconic places in the world that symbolizes freedom and hope and for working alongside veterans that continue serving our great nation.
Manager for Community Partnerships, Fox Sports
National Sales Assistant, Fox
Sales Service Associate, ABC, Disney, Advertising Sales Local
Photos from the day