GOSOWorks Employer Partner Spotlight: Concrete Safaris

Through our robust employment program, GOSOWorks, we’re fortunate to partner with more than 80 employers across New York City. Our employer partners provide GOSO participants with paid internships, which can become full-time job opportunities. To learn more about GOSOWorks, click here.

This month, we’re spotlighting our neighbor: Concrete Safaris! Concrete Safaris is a nonprofit in East Harlem that provides youth with outdoor experiences to build hard and soft leadership skills so they can transform public spaces into safer spaces where they teach the community and become greater assets to their neighborhoods and beyond. The staff connects with young people through activities like gardening, bike riding, exercise, and more — anything that gets them outside and interacting with their environments!

GOSO has been partnering with Concrete Safaris for several years now, and it’s beneficial to have a partner so close to our office (we’re just a few blocks away from each other!). It’s an easy location for many of our participants to get to, and the interns placed there will gain experience in nonprofit and outdoor work.

Claire Farnan is the Garden Educator and Project Developer with Concrete Safaris and is one of the main people who supervises GOSO interns on the job.

“Recently, having the GOSO Guys has been so helpful! We’ve gotten a lot of work done outside in our community garden, and the two interns we have right now are very dedicated and efficient. We’re here to work with an entire community, so we want to reach as many people as possible. We believe that everyone deserves the chance to experience the outdoors. It’s exciting to partner with GOSO since we’re serving the same areas.”

Currently, GOSO participants Keybo C. and MJ T. are working as Gardeners and get to do a variety of tasks like weeding, laying down new mulch and soil, caring for the existing plant life, and preparing for future plantings.

MJ has been interning through GOSOWorks since November, and before that he had worked with Concrete Safaris over the summer as part of the Summer Youth Program. He is really enjoying spending his time outside:

“I love being in nature and seeing all of the new plants growing. I’ve also been learning a lot of things about gardening that I didn’t know before! For example, I put hay on top the garden beds, which protects the soil in the winter so things like snow and leaves don’t ruin the nutrients. It’s cool to learn new skills like that.”

Keybo just started this week and is excited to pick up on the same skills MJ has been honing for the past few months. He is especially excited to be part of a local organization that is making an impact on the area:

“I’m looking forward to being able to do something for the community. I like working in the garden they have here because the goal is to make it a place where people from the neighborhood can come to hang out. It’s somewhere safe to play for the kids.” 

We’re really lucky to have partners like Concrete Safaris who understand the needs of our communities and the young men with whom we work. The professional experiences Keybo and MJ are gaining are going to help them grow not just in their careers but in their personal lives also. As for MJ, he thinks this internship has made him realize something important about himself as a worker:

“I definitely think gardening is something I could see myself doing long term. I love working outside, I know I don’t want to be in an office just sitting. It’s been great to just lift things and work with my hands and see the results of all of that work.” 

If you’re interested in partnering with GOSOWorks as an employer partner, please contact Nick Zolnierowski (nzolnierowski@gosonyc.org) and Anna Kalm (akalm@gosonyc.org).

Check out photos of Keybo and MJ on the job below!

The team at Concrete Safaris in Harlem! From left: GOSO participant MJ T., Concrete Safaris Garden Educator Claire Farnan, GOSO participant Keybo C., and GOSO’s Employment Development Associate, Anna Kalm.

MJ T. works with a huge pile of mulch that is donated to Concrete Safaris by a local company.

This is what the community garden at Concrete Safaris looks like in the winter. Claire and her team lead fun outdoor workshops for several groups of youth from the area.

Keybo and MJ laying down the mulch to cover the ground, which helps with the appearance of the garden and also provides protection for the ground.