Teaming together; revitalizing the ‘hood

Former center fielder and NY Mets coach Mookie Wilson shared his favorite foods and cooking tips with Mets great Ron Darling as they both painted swaths of color recently in the hall of the King Towers Community Center in Harlem. The Center is in the New York City Housing Authority complex at East 115th St. As part of Habitat-NYC’s ‘Brush With Kindness’ program, the Mets alums, 25 Citi volunteers and family partners brought fresh colors to the Center’s rooms and a vivid new mural to brighten the hallway. Kings Towers has 10 buildings.

At nearby Taft Houses, the Youth Chorus Office also benefitted from the “Teammates in the Community” volunteer efforts on a very soggy May 24.

This is the fourth year that the Mets, Citi and Habitat-NYC have teamed up together. This year, New York City Housing Authority joined them.

Fielding raindrops during the outdoor presentations, Victor Gonzalez, the first public housing resident Board Member, mentioned that 40 centers in the Housing Authority have been painted through the ‘Brush With Kindness’ program, “brightening up spaces we call home.” He said, “This activity creates inspiration and changes lives of those it touches.”

Pitching legend Ron Darling is a Habitat-NYC Board member and comes out for all the Mets–Citi–Habitat events. “It’s a winning partnership with a long-standing commitment to the community. As a team we will work together to revitalize the rooms and areas where young people and residents of this neighborhood gather every day,” he said, keeping his remarks brief to avoid the impending deluge.

Thanking the Mets alumni and Citi volunteers, Bill Borden of Citi spoke of how much the partnership between these four institutions collectively makes a tremendous impact. Borden painted a segment of the mural.

Family partner Aisha Torres, a 28-year-old hospital police officer and single mom with a six-year-old son, painted alongside the baseball legends. She has completed 50 of her 200 sweat equity hours. “This is an awesome program,” she gushed. “I never thought I’d be able to afford to buy something. This is security for my son’s future.”

She appreciates learning the building and home ownership skills that are part of the Habitat homeowner experience and meeting people from all walks of life as she puts in her sweat equity hours. Living in Mill Basin now, Aisha hopes to move into a new two-bedroom home in Bed-Stuy, this fall.

‘Brush with Kindness’ serves as a companion to Habitat-NYC’s core building services, enabling them to serve more families and increase opportunities for volunteers and sponsors. The program is designed to revitalize the appearance of the neighborhood and encourage connections within the community while preserving affordable housing stock.

At work too was Habitat-NYC volunteer Anthony Collins, honored the next day in a pre-game ceremony on the field with a “Teammates in the Community” award for his 10 years of volunteering for Habitat-NYC. The award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary ways to give back to the community.

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