Happy 40th Earth Day! It seems as if the enormous 20th anniversary celebration was just yesterday, but that’s what happens when you get old. For Heal the Bay, Earth Day used to mean Earth Month, but now the festivities occur mid-March to mid-May. Heal the Bay staff and volunteers will deliver at least 79 educational talks and lead over 112 beach cleanups over the period.
When I heard those numbers, I didn’t feel pride. Instead, I felt sympathy – as in our educational programs department, led by the peerless and tireless Meredith McCarthy, and the rest of our staff needed some serious time on the therapist’s couch.
Talk about delusions of grandeur! Are Meredith and the gang trying to save the planet in real time? God knows we need it. Meredith has a lot of founding president Dorothy Green in her. By working harder than everyone else, she leads by example. And she’s just so darn friendly and gracious that it’s nearly impossible to say no to her.
Meredith’s work ethic and compassion is not confined to the workplace. She’s often seen volunteering for other environmental events. And if a staff member or friend of Heal the Bay gets sick, Meredith is a fixture by the side of the hospital bed. She always has everyone’s back, no matter what’s on her plate at the time as a working mother with two toddler sons.
Spurred by Meredith’s leadership, a cast of thousands joins us in these wide-scale volunteer endeavors. More than 1,800 people came out last Saturday to clean up the beach at Santa Monica Pier and another 2,000 folks participated in the Earth Day festivities at Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium.
This Saturday, inspired by the Friends of the L.A. River (FOLAR), we’re partnering with the Pacific American Volunteer Association for a massive cleanup on the L.A. River at Rio de Los Angeles Park from 9 a.m. to noon. And on May 1, we’re taking part in the Big Saturday Beach Cleanup in Venice.
The culmination of the Earth Month volunteer efforts will be FOLAR’s 21st annual La Gran Limpieza on May 8, the biggest river cleanup of the year! Heal the Bay and others are taking on Compton Creek, the most polluted tributary to the L.A. River.
I hope you celebrate Earth Day by joining Meredith and the rest of the Heal the Bay crew, or some other worthy environmental protection activity in an effort to act local.
If only there were more Merediths out there to get those thinking global to start acting global, then we’d have an Earth Day to really celebrate.