Community & Conservation: Crotona Park East Celebrates Earth Day & Autism Awareness

Gonzalo Duran
Published on April 21, 2024, 4:23 pm
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In Crotona Park East, a Bronx neighborhood known for its limited green spaces, local organizations are spearheading efforts to enhance the area’s beauty and community spirit. Prominent among these are Friends of Crotona Park, Devil Dog USA Incorporated, and the Caldwell Enrichment Program Incorporated, each playing a crucial role in fostering community engagement and environmental stewardship.

This year, Caldwell Enrichment Program Incorporated led the organization of an Earth Day event that also emphasized Autism Awareness, reflecting their commitment to inclusive community initiatives. The event began with Ms. Y. Lonnie Hardy, commonly referred to as Ms. Lonnie, the Chief Executive Officer of Caldwell Enrichment Program Incorporated. She oversaw the planting of new plants and flowers in flower beds located adjacent to a local school, directly across from their headquarters. The team also cleaned up remnants of last year’s garden, including tulips and irises.

A poignant aspect of the day was the incomplete project to encircle the garden beds with cobblestones, left unfinished due to the untimely death of the volunteer leading this effort during the pandemic. Although the materials are ready, the completion of this project is pending the involvement of a skilled professional. Ms. Lonnie has invited community members with the necessary skills to assist.

Directly across from their office, the organization utilized the city’s Open Streets program to designate a car-free section of the street. This area serves as a venue for various events throughout the year, including circus performances, themed community gatherings, and educational programs for youths, such as a teen basketball program and board games.

The Earth Day activities offered numerous educational opportunities for young people, featuring partnerships including Unlimited Biking, sponsored by the Department of Transportation and the Mayor’s Office. This collaboration provided free bike rentals and cycling education at this event and others citywide. Additionally, the Crotona Park Community Dog Run initiative taught attendees about responsible pet ownership and the benefits of establishing a designated dog park. Organizations such as Children’s Aid and WHEDco also contributed significant support, focusing on youth education, family services, and child development. Devil Dog USA Incorporated contributed by providing clothing and educational books covering topics such as earth science, space, and animal education.

Ms. Lonnie expressed her satisfaction with the event’s success, acknowledging the enthusiastic participation of various vendors and local families. Looking ahead, she anticipates further expanding these efforts, aiming for an even larger celebration next year. This dedication to enhancing community engagement in Crotona Park East showcases how urban areas can be transformed into vibrant centers of activity and learning, thereby fostering a strong sense of community and environmental responsibility.

Gonzalo Duran
As a seasoned professional in both the military and civic realms, Gonzalo Duran brings a wealth of experience to his role as the Chief Executive Officer of Devil Dog USA Incorporated. A former United States Marine Sergeant, he not only leads a non-profit dedicated to supporting Veterans’ reintegration but also holds key positions in Bronx County’s political landscape, including Vice Chairman of the Bronx County Conservative Party and (C) District Leader for the 79th Assembly District. With over a decade as a CEO, Gonzalo is a multifaceted contributor to his community, excelling as an access producer, talk show host, columnist, chaplain, and advocate.