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Building Comradery and Stewardship through Volunteerism

An Interview with Citi’s Stephanie Hochman

The Hudson River Park Friends Volunteer Program is integral to keeping the Park’s four+ miles of open space clean, green, beautiful and growing for the millions who visit each year. Our Volunteer Program also builds local community and fosters a connection between New Yorkers and the green space we share.

As the longtime Presenting Sponsor of our Volunteer Program and a Park Level Corporate Member, Citi helps make all of this work possible – and their volunteers are active in the field, too. Citi’s enduring commitment to volunteerism in HRPK is an example of how giving back to local public space fosters and builds meaningful community connections and makes an enduring, visible impact.

Stephanie Hochman and Daniel J. Williams at the Hudson River Park
Stephanie Hochman and HRPK Friends Board Member Daniel J. Williams at the 2020 Playground Committee Luncheon, where Stephanie was honored as Playground Committee Champion

We spoke with Stephanie Hochman, Senior Vice President, Citi & Lead, Citi Volunteers, about what corporate volunteering means to Citi, their experience working with our team, Hudson River Park’s new Pier 26 and more.

Hudson River Park: Why is corporate volunteering important to you and your colleagues?

Stephanie Hochman: Giving back to our communities is part of who we are as a company, and helping to address local needs through volunteering is one way we bring Citi’s mission of enabling progress to life. I am so proud of my colleagues who continue to volunteer year-round, lending their time and talents to worthy causes that support their local communities and making a positive difference in people’s lives.

There are so many benefits to volunteering – aside from helping others, volunteering builds an inclusive culture by getting to know your colleagues in an informal setting, fosters team building and comradery, expands networks and helps develop new skills. Another key factor for us is support from the top. In fact, our senior leadership team not only supports volunteerism, but strongly encourages it and leads by example, participating in many of our Global Community Day projects and volunteering on non-profit boards.

HRPK: What motivated Citi’s sponsorship of the Hudson River Park Friends Volunteer Program?

SH: We know how much HRPK values the support of dedicated, hardworking volunteers to help ensure green open spaces for New York City’s children, families and visitors. The HRPK Volunteer Program is critical for engaging volunteers to assist with ongoing park stewardship and maintenance tasks, including weeding, watering and pruning to keep the gardens thriving.  Engaged volunteers also help ensure that the Park can save money that can then be directed to other important Park initiatives.

Since 2015, Citi colleagues have been engaged in Hudson River Park volunteer activities to support the Park’s horticulturists, composting efforts and shoreline cleanups. Year-round, dedicated members of Citi’s Green Team-NYC roll up their sleeves alongside other volunteers to help the expert HRPK horticulture team. Not only is this engagement fun and satisfying for our volunteers, it also directly aligns with Citi’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and empowering our colleagues to be sustainability ambassadors. We are also thrilled to continue partnering with the HRPK team on impactful volunteer opportunities for Global Community Day.

HRPK: What is the history of Citi Global Community Day in Hudson River Park?

SH: Each year, Citi colleagues, alumni, clients, family, friends and nonprofit partners come together to participate in Global Community Day, Citi’s annual flagship volunteer initiative, to give back to the communities where we live and work.  Key to the success and impact of GCD are our local community partners, and HRPK leads the way in NYC.

Since 2015, Citi has partnered with HRPK for Global Community Day to plan volunteer activities, including Park cleanups, plant restoration projects and horticulture maintenance activities for hundreds of volunteers. In 2019 alone, more than 400 Citi volunteers participated in 8 events with HRPK for Citi’s 14th annual Global Community Day. Although our volunteers were not able to gather in-person at Hudson River Park for GCD in 2020, our colleagues are eager to get back into the Park as soon as possible.

HRPK: Can you tell us about your employees’ experience working with the Hudson River Park Friends team?

SH: A+!  I cannot emphasize enough how much we appreciate the partnership, commitment and expertise of the HRPK team in the planning and implementation of the numerous volunteer activities throughout the year. A top priority for the team is the health and safety of all volunteers, reflected by the strict safety measures in place. The HRPK team provides comprehensive pre-event trainings and on site orientation to familiarize volunteers with the ecology of the landscapes they are working on. Most importantly, the team ensures volunteers are having fun while making a positive impact throughout the Park.

Additionally, the Hudson River Park team works with Citi’s Green Team-NYC to engage in seasonal volunteer events throughout the year. One of our Green Team’s favorite activities is volunteering at “Bulbtoberfest” during the month of October when tulip bulbs are planted – and our volunteers reap what they sow by taking in the view of the blooming tulips in the spring!

Pier 26 tide deck
Hudson River Park’s Pier 26

HRPK: What has the opening of Hudson River Park’s Pier 26 meant to you and your team?

SH: Hudson River Park’s Pier 26 is adjacent to our global headquarters, right in our backyard! I can actually look right onto the Pier when I’m working out in our fitness center, and I can’t wait to return to the office and enjoy that view once again. I am so proud of Citi’s 15-year partnership with Hudson River Park and our most recent contribution to support the redevelopment of Pier 26, which shows Citi’s ongoing commitment to the Park’s continued success. This ecologically-themed pier is a fantastic example of the power of public/private partnerships and offers so much to our colleagues and neighbors, including a chance to relax on the lounging decks and sunning lawn, experience the woodland walkway and shaded swings and exercise in the sports play area.

We can’t wait to have our dedicated Citi volunteers back in the Park. We’re grateful for Citi’s ongoing commitment to volunteerism in Hudson River Park, and all that Stephanie and her team do to help New Yorkers nurture their green thumbs, build community on the west side and keep Hudson River Park growing green and beautiful.