| 13 Aug 2014 | 01:20

    THE CHARITY LIST Upper West Siders know Jeff Parness as the guy in the boots, the quirky one who often traipses around the neighborhood decked out with Western gear. ?I?m the only guy on the Upper West Side who walks around in cowboy boots and shorts,? Parness said, noting that sometimes he also sports a cowboy hat and big belt buckle. The look ?has become my signature,? he said. What most do not know is that Parness? seven pairs of boots remind him of the time he?s spent helping to rebuild ravaged communities and improve lives across the United States. Parness worked for years in corporate finance. He also had a stint in Washington during the Reagan Administration. These days though, he dedicates his time to the five nonprofit volunteer groups that he launched in the last four years. All are centered on survivors helping those in need. Parness? main organization, The New York Says Thank You Foundation, sends New York City volunteers, including firefighters and those who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, to help rebuild a community in the United States each Sept. 11. This year, 300 volunteers helped rebuild a 14,000-square-foot barn in a Kansas town that was almost completely razed by a tornado. In 2004, volunteers helped out during the California wildfires. The foundation idea was inspired by Parness? youngest son. While watching the news, the boy heard a little girl say that she had lost her Seeping Beauty Halloween costume in the California wildfires and told his father that he wanted to send his toys to children affected by the fires. That comment sparked Parness and his neighbors to collect and drive hundreds of toys to San Diego in a truck marked ?New York Says Thank You.? Parness also wanted to pay tribute to one of his former business partners who died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, as well as ?make a bigger statement,? he said, ?that we?ll never forget what people did for us [New Yorkers] in our time of need.? The toy project evolved into The New York Says Thank You Foundation after another comment from Parness? son. While watching the Weather Channel, he asked his dad if they could drive more toys to kids in Iowa if a tornado were to hit. Perhaps most remarkable is the pay-it-forward aspect of the organization?residents of communities that New Yorkers have helped in past years have joined subsequent projects across the country. Over the years, Parness also co-founded CJ?s Bus Foundation, which provides emergency child care services after a disaster; Bonita?s Wish, which empowers cancer survivors to rebuild the homes of other cancer patients in disaster areas; and Tony?s Room, an organization focused on building ?clean-room? environments in the homes of families whose children are returning home after bone-marrow transplants. ?What?s so unique about the organizations, the reason they keep growing, is that all volunteers are survivors,? Parness said. Parness is currently working to convert all of his projects into one nonprofit organization and has started to reach out for funds. Not only does his work help communities, but it makes sense from a financial perspective, he said. ?Projects cost about $25,000 for a weekend,? he said, ?but that generates $500,000 worth of economic value for the communities that we?ve helped.?