Rye Y’s Togetherhood Marks Year of Service with Planting Project at Rye Nature Center

Group Photo at RNC May 2015[May 21, 2015]On Saturday, May 9—a day that threatened, but didn’t deliver, rain—22 Rye YMCA volunteers hiked into the woods at Rye Nature Center to repair the damage left by last winter’s storms.

Led by Taro Ietaka, the Nature Center’s Director of Conversation and Land Stewardship, the group included teenage girls, families with children, and adults—all of whom were happy to spend an afternoon outdoors planting seedlings. After a brief lesson by Ietaka about successful tree planting techniques, the Togetherhood volunteers split into pairs or threes and headed in different directions, each carrying a shovel, work gloves and a slender seedling. Within two hours, they had planted, watered and deer-proofed nearly 50 witch-hazel, speckled alder, white spruce and white pine shrubs and trees, which will replace trees that were felled by high winds and snow.

Lindsey Kim, a senior at Blind Brook High School, is fulfilling her Senior Options internship at the Rye Y. Inspired by a Y meeting she attended about school gardens, she brought her sister along to the Nature Center. “The Togetherhood project was great!” she exclaimed. “It was really fun planting baby seedlings and meeting new people. It also felt very gratifying knowing that what we were doing was helping the environment.”

Togetherhood is a national YMCA social responsibility initiative that engages Y members in community service. Since its formation in May 2014, the Rye Y Togetherhood Committee has organized four projects, including the Rye Nature Center event. Other projects include: painting the hallways and stairwells at St. Ignatius Middle School in the south Bronx, a children’s clothing drive and day of service at The Sharing Shelf in Port Chester, and creating care packages for women served by My Sisters’ Place. Co-chaired by Rye resident Kat Doyle and Mamaroneck resident Edison Blanco, the Togetherhood committee is currently working with the Rye Arts Center and Don Bosco Community Center on a project that will take place over the summer.

After the May 9th tree planting, Ietaka remarked “Efforts like the YMCA’s Togetherhood project are a huge help to the Rye Nature Center. We have 47 acres of park to manage and plans to markedly improve the forest as habitat for wildlife and biodiversity. Implementing those plans requires the help of caring community members who are willing to volunteer to pull weeds and plant trees on their days off. We are very thankful for them.”

For more information about the Togetherhood program or upcoming projects, contact Denise Woodin at 914-967-6363, ext. 101 or denise@ryeymca.org.