Barbara Coffey doesn’t just enjoy the pleasing environment the Carnegie Hill area has to offer, she’s also responsible for helping maintain it. As CEO of Carnegie Hill Neighbors (CHN), Coffey oversees the board which aims to ensure top-notch quality of life in the Carnegie Hill region, as it has for the 40 years Coffey has been a member.
In 2012, CHN responded to Hurricane Sandy’s blow to the city by turning their Halloween Spooktacular block party into a fundraising effort. The block party is not usually a moneymaking endeavor, according to Coffey, just a “nice thing to do for a great neighborhood.” This year the group encouraged donations to the relief effort among party-goers and donated half of the profit the organization netted as well.
CHN also hosted their own relief event, ultimately sending a truck full of donated items to Staten Island.
“It was very impromptu,” said Coffey, “but we have a good network of volunteers. We have a really good spirit.”
In addition to their charitable work, CHN is responsible for helping beautify the Park Avenue mall above 86th Street by developing a template for planting, raising funds from Park Avenue buildings and planting and maintaining flowers and trees. Coffey said an organization was subsequently formed below 86th Street using CHN’s template.
Coffey’s group is also making an effort to monitor and replace trees that came down during Sandy and the recent snowstorm.
“Our main mission since 1970 has been the preservation of the architectural history of the neighborhood,” explained Coffey. “Over the years we’ve added a lot of quality of life projects. Somebody goes around and checks everything that is wrong whether it’s graffiti or a malfunctioning street lamp or a pothole or anything.”
The group has also transitioned their twice-yearly newsletter to full color and continued to implement an electronic recycling program in the area.
Looking toward the future, CHN has goals both small and big. For one, Coffey said they’d like to revamp their website and make it more dynamic.
The group also hopes to continue improving on the status quo. “We have a lot of good programs going on and we try to improve them each year and bring on more young board members,” said Coffey. “Our merchants are getting more involved in helping too.”
Though retired, Coffey views her volunteer position with CHN as equivalent to a full-time job. When she has free time, Coffey enjoys frequent travel, both in the U.S. and abroad. She also takes full advantage of her natural surroundings, biking or cross-country skiing in Central Park whenever she gets the chance.
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