By Chris Lim & Matt Freiberg
On an unseasonably warm January 17th, The Watershed Project celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service by hosting volunteers from around the Bay Area at the Richmond Greenway and Shimada Friendship Park.
At the Greenway, The Watershed Project joined forces with a myriad of other Richmond-based community groups, including Friends of the Richmond Greenway, Urban Tilth, Groundworks Richmond, Gompers High School, and CURME. The event drew nearly 400 volunteers, who spread out across eight different projects.
Volunteers at The Watershed Project’s Native Habitat Garden and Bioswale Project were met by team leaders from Richmond High’s Aqua Team and quickly got to work dispatching invasive weeds, removing over 20 large bags of trash, spreading 20 cubic yards of mulch, and installing 400 native plants. As the sun reached its peak, volunteers caught a tasty lunch break, served by the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and were regaled by music, dance and spoken word performances. “It was great to see the enthusiasm among volunteers for a project that directly benefits the community and environment,” said volunteer Diego Sotelo.
At the shoreline, volunteers showcased the community’s passionate dedication to making their natural environment healthier for all. The Watershed Project, East Bay Regional Park District and Golden Gate Audubon Society, with support from the City of Richmond, brought approximately 150 eager volunteers, both adults and kids, together to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.
The day started with a light fog along the shoreline, creating an almost Hollywood-like scene, full of waterlogged marsh plants and sleepy-eyed birds. Once the sign-in table was ready, the fog lifted, and sun-kissed volunteers began charging at the day’s two main activities: removing invasive fennel plants and cleaning the beach.
Weed team volunteers tackled the fennel’s deep tap root and removed a large stretch along the marsh bank. Trash team volunteers painstakingly canvassed the beach, collecting tiny bits of plastic, mostly from food wrappers and to-go food containers. At the end of the day, a heaping pile of trash sacks illustrated the need to stop trash, particularly plastics, from entering our watersheds.
The Day of Service succeeded in uniting people from all over the Bay Area in hard work to empower individuals and build a culture of volunteerism in communities that need it the most. We hope this success will inspire people to incorporate community service into their daily lives.
Photo credits (from top): Vanessa Carter, Chris Lim, Diego Sotelo.