As I sit at my desk this chilly, gray Monday, after a long and joyful weekend that featured both CRWA’s Charles River Cleanup and the Run of the Charles: Boston's Premier Paddling Race, I am admittedly a little tired. But far more than fatigue, what I am mostly feeling is an amazement and wonder at the power of CRWA’s volunteers.
Today, CRWA’s office in Weston is filling up fast with boxes and bags and equipment, as CRWA’s dedicated volunteers stream in, returning equipment, extra t-shirts, sign-in forms, and much more. They are all smiling, and are still full of energy, even after a full weekend of activity on the river. These same volunteers streamed in to our offices all last week as well, picking up materials to be distributed to the many dozens of volunteer teams who helped clean up trash at over 104 sites all along the 80 miles of the Charles River. Between the Cleanup and the race, there were over 4,500 people out on the Charles River this weekend!
It makes me proud to be part of this amazing effort, to be one of the thousands who love the Charles, and want to give our time, our money, our brainpower and our voices to the monumental task of protecting and improving the river and the watershed. There are literally hundreds of great stories; I can’t help but share one.
Dave Dobrzynski was a water quality monitoring volunteer for many years. Dave came out to collect his own water quality sample, and then gathered samples from the rest of his region and brought them to CRWA for processing, early on a Tuesday morning once a month, year after year. For years Dave coordinated hundreds of volunteers for the Charles River Cleanup in Bellingham and helped with countless other events, from mailings to macroinvertebrate monitoring. And he always helped coordinate the Run of the Charles race, driving a rental truck to pick up and drop off tables and chairs and water and snacks and tents…
Through all this, Dave was never without a smile. He always greeted CRWA staff by thanking us. He gave us great feedback, took beautiful pictures and enjoyed everything the river and CRWA brought to his attention. Sadly for CRWA, Dave moved to Kentucky a couple of years ago, a long 18 hour drive away. Still, yesterday afternoon, after a full weekend of driving that big rental truck around the watershed, helping racers and other volunteers, Dave bounded across the sidewalk to give me a welcome hug and help pack up a table. We chatted about his new river experiences on the Ohio as we worked. This morning as I pulled into the CRWA parking lot, there was Dave, with a smile and a wave as he headed off to return the rental truck he had already helped empty, and then to start the 18 hour drive back to Kentucky. When I expressed my surprise at his making the long drive, Dave said “Are you kidding? I wouldn’t miss this for the world!”
The spirit and dedication of our volunteers just leaves me in awe. I cannot find the right way to express my thanks except to promise that CRWA will be ready to embrace them next year when we do it all again!