Those words inspired a generation, including Community Board 2 member Maria Vielma.
Vielma, a native of Paraguay, now lives in Woodside. She has volunteered to look after Doughboy Park in her neighborhood since 1993.
“Any park is important to the community,” she said. “This is a place where we meet and can get fresh air.”
She called it an “escape from your apartment.”
“It’s for children, old people, everyone,” she added. “The park is essential for the people who live in the city.”
Her love for service started when she was a little girl. In Paraguay, Vielma said she was involved with helping the local soccer team and schools. She was also a schoolteacher.
“I always want to do something because this is now my country, my community. It’s very important,” she said. “I feel like it’s my block, I have to do something.”
Vielma, who previously lived in Flushing, has called Woodside home for nearly four decades. She said it was a “sleepy” neighborhood when she first moved in, but now it’s the opposite.
“I think it’s too much, the change,” she said. “Too many people now. We need a bigger park, it’s not enough.”
One of the main issues she wants to address is that young people often smoke and take drugs in the park at night, Vielma said. She said young people in the area “need something to do,” such as sports programs, jobs and other positive activities.
As a member of the community board’s Health and Human Services Committee, Vielma is now in a position to influence change.
“I thought I only had a problem here with the park, but we got a lot of problems with young people,” she said.