Shown above, Diane Holder harvests produce at the Mariners Harbor House farm.

Many Americans are feeling the various impacts of COVID-19, but individuals and families who are food insecure are finding this time to be more challenging than others. Project Director David Genaro and his team at Jobs-Plus Staten Island in New York City have partnered with Green City Force (GCF) at Mariners Harbor House to harvest and provide fresh produce to residents in need.

GCF has a vision that “One day, we will live in green cities where everyone can thrive,” and a mission to “train young leaders to power a green and inclusive economy through service.” Their model corps in New York City enlists and trains young people from low-income housing communities for a new and more equitable economy while equipping them with the tools to change the trajectory of their lives and access good jobs.

Upon receiving an alert from the organization that there was a dire need for volunteers to assist with harvesting the farm, Jobs-Plus connected with GCF Program Coordinator Erin Johnson. Jobs-Plus Program Assistant Director Angela D’Aiuto and Jobs-Plus client Diane Holder answered the call. They helped with the harvest at Mariners Harbor House farm, which benefitted the residents and seniors within the 10303 and 10302 zip codes. City Harvest and New Direction Services assisted with distributing the produce to families in need at Mariners Harbor House.  

Angela is certified through the Food Bank of New York in urban farming. She is an active volunteer with New Direction Services, a local not-for-profit providing healthy meals, education and resources to individuals, families, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities on Staten Island. David said, “Angela is totally dedicated to uplifting and supporting the community. She really defines our LEGACY standards.”

Diane’s story showcases the success that participants can experience by utilizing the services at Jobs-Plus. She has been in the program since October 2016 and is a former resident of Mariners Harbor House. Jobs-Plus helped her obtain her CDL license so that she could get a full-time job as a truck driver. By utilizing the employment retention and financial services at Jobs-Plus, she was recently able to purchase her first home. “It’s wonderful to see someone we helped spread the love and give back to the community in the way that she is doing,” David said.

Jobs-Plus will continue to provide outreach to members residing in the Mariners Harbor Houses as well as encourage the 18 to 24-year-old New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents to enroll in the GCF Program. David and his team are working on expanding the GCF offering to West Brighton House residents, so they can also reap the benefits the partnership sows.