Elie Hirschfeld's love affair with Central Park began in 1972. His parents' apartment offered a view of the lower part of the Park, which was in disrepair at the time. "It was sad to see the Park in that state," Elie remembers.
Thanks to the work of the Central Park Conservancy over the past four decades, the Park is now a beautiful backyard for all New Yorkers, including Elie; his wife, Sarah; and their 10-year-old son, Jacob. Elie, who supports Central Park at a leadership level as a member of the Conservancy’s Chairman's Circle, describes it as a place in which he experiences the joys of "walking, having a picnic, and watching what's going on." The Park has also played a part in nurturing Elie's deep connection to running races and triathlons, so much so that even after the 2020 New York City Marathon was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Elie chose to run it anyway, entirely in the Park. "This is the most amazing park in the world. I love running here more than anywhere else. Central Park is endlessly interesting, fun, and exciting," Elie explains.
In November 2021, Elie's appreciation for the Conservancy's ongoing restoration and maintenance of the Park inspired him to attempt another impressive solo feat to raise awareness and funds for the organization. He completed an Ironman 70.3 triathlon, an endurance race that began with a 1.2-mile swim at his local athletic club, followed by a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run—both of which Elie completed in the Park. "I am thrilled to use my joy for racing in the Park to inspire me to continue giving back to it," Elie says.
Elie understands that while the Conservancy expertly manages Central Park, the public plays an important role. He’s motivated to contribute because "the Park needs me, and I want to take care of it." But for Elie, being a Park steward is not only about financial support. “Volunteering is valuable to the Park.” He continues, “For my older son’s bar mitzvah we gave a day of service, cleaning up an area on the west side in the 70s. It was very satisfying.”
The ongoing but welcome challenge for Elie is to help explain who and what the Conservancy is. As caretakers of the Park, the Conservancy is committed to serving the public’s best interests and providing the oversight and expertise necessary to ensure that this world-class greenspace is accessible to all. Because the Conservancy is funded primarily by individual donations—not tax dollars—Elie is committed to sharing with fellow New Yorkers why the organization is so critical to the Park’s health. He’s also determined to communicate Central Park’s importance to New Yorkers. “I try to explain how important it is to support this group whose sole interest is to keep the Park great. It gives me a lot of satisfaction to help the Park because it’s for me, it's for my family, it’s for my neighbors, it’s for the City.”
You have a direct impact on New York City’s 843-acre backyard and the community we serve when you support the Conservancy. Your donations, membership, volunteering, and stewardship of the Park help this iconic greenspace thrive. We handle the largest and smallest details of the Park’s care, from planting flowers and removing trash to restoring historic structures and offering hundreds of public tours and family-friendly activities, but our work is funded primarily by donations thanks to individuals like you. The Park needs us—all of us. Get involved today.
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Tags: Conservancy Staff / History
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Tags: Conservancy Staff / Tips for Visiting / Park Experts / First-Time Visitors
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Tags: Conservancy Staff / Park Experts / First-Time Visitors
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Tags: Staff Picks