By Celine Gerakin, Pillar Point and Coastal Cleanup Day Site Captain
I started cleaning up beaches around Half Moon Bay in late 2013 after I moved to the area with my husband. This quickly became an addiction, and I knew I wanted to do more, be more involved with the coastal environment, and make a bigger difference. So I joined the non-profit organization Pacifica Beach Coalition and started cleaning up beaches on a weekly basis from Mussel Rock in Daly City to Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica. After two months of volunteering and a lot of support from the other members, I started organizing my own monthly beach cleanups at Pillar Point in El Granada. My first official cleanup in March 2014 was a real disaster. It was pouring rain! Only two courageous volunteers showed up and the cleanup lasted only 30 minutes. It was just enough time to pick up a few beer cans, some tangled fishing lines and a handful of cigarette butts.
A lot of things have changed since then! I am now proud to say that I have an amazing group of regular volunteers and there is an average of twenty people coming every month to the cleanups. I have the support of the County Harbor District staff, who help carry all the supplies and dispose of the trash collected. Each cleanup we collectively pick up over 100 pounds of trash, mostly fishing gear and lines, cigarette butts and beverage containers. At the end of every cleanup I am always amazed and saddened by the huge pile of garbage and recyclables. Now our site is an official site of Coastal Cleanup Day, which takes place on the third Saturday in September each year.
It can be a lot of work being a site captain – sending emails, promoting the cleanups, leading and organizing volunteers, keeping the supplies etc… but it is so satisfying and rewarding! To me, every pound of trash represents a step forward toward a cleaner beach and a better community. Volunteers leave with the unique satisfaction of making an instant difference- by picking up a bunch of tangled fishing lines from the jetty they just saved birds, whales, seals or fish. My hope is that people who see us cleaning up will follow the example. Twenty volunteers on a beach, each with a bucket, are way more impactful than if it was just me. This is why I love being a site captain.
Article from Flows to Bay and San Mateo County Blog. More on San Mateo Environmental Health Services Blog.