Call it Arab Spring cleaning!
Members of the Arab American Association of New York turned out to clean up Shore Road Park to celebrate the National Arab American Day of Service on May 17.
The 10th-annual service event coincided this year with the city’s It’s My Park Day, which encourages volunteers of all stripes to pitch in and clean up the city’s parks, offering a perfect opportunity for members of the Bay Ridge-based association to lend a hand.
“I think this service day is not only about cleaning the park, but it’s about bringing all the Arabs together to show that we are part of the community and we also can help the community to keep it clean,” said Wedad Muflahi, a young association member.
The idea of a national day of volunteerism for Arab Americans started in 2004 in Dearborn, Mich., but has since spread to more than a dozen cities nationwide. Bay Ridge is a natural place for the annual event to take root, as it’s Arab population has increased dramatically over the past decade.
“I volunteer because I love to serve the community and help in anyway I can,” said association staffer Sabby Zahir. “It’s also important for us as a community of Arab Americans and immigrants to come together and be active in our local community.”
More than 20 volunteers from the association showed up to work alongside kids from half a dozen local schools, members of the Shore Road Parks Conservancy, and even local Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) and state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge).