Talk about a mutual admiration society. Appreciating volunteers was one of highlights of Bronx Week 2018. Bronx Week is a celebration of all things Bronx: history, diversity, arts and culture, famous Bronxites, and yes, volunteers.
The joyous Volunteer Recognition took place on May 20th at the Bronx Court House in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. gave an exuberant welcome to everyone. He honored Big Apple Greeter volunteers for their unbridled enthusiasm in bringing visitors to neighborhoods all over the Bronx.
Alicia Pierro, Executive Director of Big Apple Greeter, said volunteer Greeters embrace the opportunity to give back to the city they love. In a world dominated by technology, Big Apple Greeter’s connection is person to person – often creating life-long friendships.
Three Big Apple Greeter volunteers told personal Bronx tales. Chris Buckley, with her seeing-eye dog, Laura, said the Bronx is in her DNA. Her grandfather and father emigrated to the Bronx from Ireland. She was born, raised, educated, married and still lives in the Bronx! One of her memorable visitors was a man who’d grown up in the Bronx, but left when he was eight years old. As an adult he came back to visit the Bronx, but was too frightened to leave the subway.
Some years later, he landed in the good hands of Chris and her husband, Mike Gerra, also a volunteer Greeter. They took him to see his old neighborhood, and he was so moved, he cried.
Greeter Maggie Brown grew up in the Bronx and every time she takes visitors there, she sees it with fresh eyes and learns something new. She particularly loves taking visitors to stores since the salespeople are so kind, helpful and warm.
Robert Moore said when he meets people from Paris, they talk about the Champs Elysee; when he meets people from Rome, they talk about the Appian Way. Then he says, “Yes, but have you seen the Grand Concourse in the Bronx?” When he shows them all there is to see, do and eat, they realize how wonderful and unexpected the Bronx is.