Mormons give Hipsterville a good cleaning

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Wake up, Williamsburg! While you were sleeping last Saturday morning there were real live Mormons cleaning up McCarren Park.

More than 100 19- to 30-year-old Mormons from across the tri-state area woke up at 7 am, prayed, and trekked to Greenpoint to pick up trash and rake leaves as part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ annual community service day for young singles.

Most of the stubbly, pierced, carefully disheveled masses woke up well after their Mormon cohorts left at 12:30 pm, and few of those who were awake ventured out in the gloomy weather last Saturday to notice the interlaced-hands logo on the volunteers’ yellow-mesh jerseys.

Jessica Weinschenk and her boyfriend Justin Urra, 24, woke up at 3 pm and were shocked to learn that Mormons had briefly descended on their neighborhood.

“Really? Mormons?” asked 22-year-old Jessica Weinschenk. “I guess it’s not that weird because religious people do stuff like that. And hey, it’s cool if someone wants to clean our park for us. But why Williamsbu­rg?”

Though it’s tempting to think that the Mormons chose Williamsburg because it is packed with aimless, Godless, young people crying out for conversion, the Church chose this particular park because the Parks Department identified it as the most in need of maintenance of any in the five boroughs.

The act of largesse confused Weinschenk, who said she had not volunteered since high school. Urra has never done community service and even chose to go to jail rather than do a court-mandated subway cleanup.

“I threw my bike through some guy’s window who hit me and they ordered me to clean-up the Houston Street station. I got the date, and went there, and some guy handed me cleaning stuff,” he said. “I sat down for a minute, thought about it, and was like, ‘I’m out of here.’ So I went to brunch at Café Colonial.”

Of 20 Williamsburg residents in the park on Sunday, photographer Phillip Angert, 25, was the only person who said he had served a community in some form.

“I just got back from Burning Man and when you leave you have to spend four hours cleaning up after yourself,” he said. “It’s this really amazing experiment in community.”

The Mormons, on the other hand, volunteer regularly, whether it’s doing public service events organized by a local congregation or missionary work in different countries.

“You just try to think of others, right?” said 25-year-old Greg Reeves, who helped organize Saturday’s event. “The other day, there were these Japanese girls trying to get off the subway and they had these huge bags of luggage so I helped them carry up their bags.”

Reeves believes that someone else would have helped the travelers if he had not.

“New Yorkers have a hard shell, but I think generally they are pretty nice people,” he said.

Updated 6:14 pm, September 17, 2009: Story was updated to reflect a more accurate rendering of the Mormon's official name.
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Reader Feedback

Jon from williamsburg says:
about time they cleaned up now where coolsville U.S.A take that Scooby-Doo
Sept. 15, 2009, 10:19 am
Sept. 15, 2009, 6:22 pm
Pacholo from Red Hook says:
Where is that stated, Hank?
Sept. 15, 2009, 7:38 pm
Wendy Avila from Coney says:
HILARIOUS....especially enjoyed the Good Mormon to you! "smackdown" chart. Thanks. Made my day.
Sept. 16, 2009, 11:43 am
Cindy from San Diego, CA says:
Interesting piece. Just a little clarification: the Church's official name is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, not the church of the latter-day saints. We want people to recognize Christ's name in the church and not always refer to us as "Mormons," which is actually a nickname taken from the Book of Mormon (which we regard as sacred scripture, along with the Holy Bible). Thank you.
Sept. 16, 2009, 11:54 am
Michael from Brooklyn says:
Is this satire? I can't tell...
Sept. 16, 2009, 3:29 pm
Jim from Texas says:
Good article. Yes the "Mormons" are very active in serving their fellow man, as Christ admonished His followers to do.

One thing about the article I would comment on...."Mormons" is a nickname that non-members applied to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints starting about a hundred and seventy years ago.

We are Christians and we see Jesus Christ as the one who performed the Atonement that will provide salvation for all who follow His teachings.

I was disappointed to see His name left out when the name of the Church was printed in the article.
The accurate name of the Church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Sept. 16, 2009, 4:26 pm
Matt from Arizona says:
If this article was written because of the ironic nature of this service event, consider this bit of irony: in the 28,109 congregations of 'Mormons' around the globe, not a single paycheck was cut to conduct the services. Nobody is paid--not the bishop, the teachers, the missionaries you see in the streets, the organist, not one person. But the most ironic thing of all is the real motivation behind all of this service was conspicuously omitted from this piece--faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sept. 17, 2009, 8:33 pm
Matt from Washington State says:
I've personally participated in several cleanup events sponsored by the Latter Day Saints and local communities both - and though I wasn't too excited at the outset, found them always to be fun, interesting, and beneficial experiences. It's slightly sad that as a nation we've gotten to the point where selfless service is newsworthy. In searching for fulfillment this type of service is where it's at. You feel good about yourself while helping your community AND getting to know other good people. If you fear a loss of pride in this kind of service - you've been deceived.
Sept. 21, 2009, 12:06 am
Elane from Manhattan says:
Uh, this is an incredibly stupid story. Some New Yorkers (who happen to be Mormons) clean up a park. Wow! This is written as though the Mormons descended from Mars. They cleaned up a park in Williamsburg because they live there, idiots.
Sept. 23, 2009, 8:18 pm
LDS makes me sick from Salt Lake City says:
First of all.. Mormons... stop knocking on my front door early in the morning and trying to con me into being your friend so I join your cult. Second of all, I just visited Brooklyn and was actually excited I was only going to see angry jews and no mormons... but there you are in your ugly yellow vests. Stop following me and leave the east alone. Joseph Smith Jr. was a bull——ter.
Sept. 24, 2009, 2:11 am
NYer says:
"LDS makes me sick"--you're a biggoted sicko. We don't like haters in NYC--if you don't want to see diversity stay home.
Sept. 25, 2009, 11:16 am
Over It from Manhattan says:
The condescension and smug superiority in this piece is gagging me.
Sept. 25, 2009, 11:32 am
wendy from sheepshead bay says:
superioity? Who? Where?

Mormons are OK in my book!
Nov. 23, 2010, 10:56 am

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