WOODSIDE — A group of neighborhood volunteers have been honored for their efforts to make Woodside greener.
The Woodside Neighborhood Association is one of two Queens groups to receive the "Golden Trowel" award from Partnerships for Parks, which recognizes community volunteers for their contributions to the city's green spaces.
The group was formed about three years ago by a handful of Woodside residents who banded together to beautify the neighborhood.
"People were talking [about] problems, they were having discussions about problems, but nobody was doing anything," said David Rosasco, one of the association's founders, who said he began by simply going outside with a broom and sweeping the streets.
Rosasco soon teamed up with neighbors Joseph and Theresa McGowan, who had been removing graffiti in the neighborhood.
"We decided as individuals that these simple tasks, as simple as they may be, could have an impact on the way people perceive their relationship with the community," Rosasco said.
Since then, the group has grown in number and regularly hosts beautification events, picking up litter, planting trees and flowers, and painting over graffiti.
Core members Elba Santiago and her husband, Nelson Rodriguez, said their participation in the Woodside Neighborhood Association has allowed them to connect with their neighbors and their community.
"When you do it in a group, when you find like-minded people, it becomes easy," Rodriguez said. "It becomes its own reward."
Partnerships for Parks — which is a collaboration between the nonprofit City Parks Foundation and the city's Parks Department — rewarded the Woodside Neighborhood Association for its greening and tree care initiatives in the neighborhood, according to a statement.
"Partnerships for Parks encourages and supports New Yorkers who are devoted to caring for their local green spaces and communities," Partnerships for Parks director Sabina Saragoussi said in a statement.
"[Rosasco's] dedicated and passionate efforts have had a visible, positive effect on his Woodside neighborhood," she continued, singling out the association's co-founder. "He is an inspiration and we hope his work will encourage other New Yorkers to get involved."
The Woodside Neighborhood Association has planted more than 192 trees in the community since the spring of 2012.
The group has beautification projects in Woodside Memorial Park, Steinmann Triangle, Sochne Park and Winfield Plaza through "It's My Park Day" volunteer events.
Those interested in volunteering with the Woodside Neighborhood Association can learn more by visiting its website here and sending an email.