Early in the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there was so much trash in the Bronx's Crotona Parkway Malls that Mercy College student Darcia Mbaye ’21, behavioral science major in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, had to carry her dog on their daily walks. When a senior citizen neighbor started to rake the trash alone in the middle of the night, Mbaye decided it was time to do something.
Mbaye, a first-generation, 56-year-old returning student of Mercy College, connected with Partnership for Parks, a public-private partnership between City Parks Foundation and NYC Parks that supports leaders who care and advocate for neighborhood parks by providing training, grants and staff support. Before long, she was named shop steward — or lead volunteer — of Crotona Parkway Malls.
In the past two months, Mbaye has organized three clean-up events. She invited the Mercy student group, Mavericks Give Back, to join her effort and was thrilled when students Frantz Jean Pierre ’23, Mikalia Leach ’23 and Camila Batista ’23 showed up to volunteer at a September event. “I was so proud that they were from my college,” she said. “And people were so happy to see college students who wanted to help out. We’re right by the Bronx Zoo where visitors come from all over the world. I want other people to see our community pride. At first, my neighbors only wanted to clean the spots where they sit with their friends and family. But now we all clean everything.”
Besides her extensive community service involvement, Mbaye paves the way for her family's educational achievements. Her daughter received her graduate degree at Mercy and her youngest daughter is planning on attending Mercy in the future. Both participated in the park clean-up events.
If you are interested in joining future clean-up events at Crotona Parkway Malls, please contact Mavericks Give Back at firstname.lastname@example.org.