by Emilee Foster and Boris Kresevljak
As Mobile Baykeeper AmeriCorps Volunteer Engagement (AVE) members, our job has been to engage our local community in creating change for our local environment. We host outreach events and community cleanups to make a difference in our community and spread the word of Mobile Baykeeper. This year, we have been able to cultivate more than 1,000 volunteers and reach over 15,000 members of our community. For both of us, this was a dream come true.
Being part of Mobile Baykeeper AVE has given us the chance to not only serve our community, but also to be a bigger part of our community. We have had the chance to meet people from all walks of life, and we could see first-hand how the work we do affected them. We have cultivated relationships with our volunteers that we will cherish forever. From hosting cleanups like our infamous Apple Snail Roundups (a cleanup that removes the invasive Apple Snail from our waterways) to tabling at community events (like Earth Day Mobile Bay), we have been able to talk to each and every person who has crossed our path and learn more about our area and the people who live in it. We have seen first-time volunteers, veteran volunteers, and even volunteers who celebrate their birthday by coming to one of our cleanups. Each volunteer is different, but each volunteer is also very special in their own way. Without volunteers to help our community, our Mobile Bay Watershed would never see any change or improvement. We are forever thankful for everyone who chooses to spend their time with Mobile Baykeeper.
The AVE team and Mobile Baykeeper would not be able to have the same impact that we have on the local community without the amazing volunteers that call this area home. It is always amazing to see how devoted our volunteers are. Each volunteer makes a difference in our community and are vital to the success of Mobile Baykeeper. Volunteers from all over our area show up on their days off, after work, or even on their birthday to make a difference. Thousands of pieces of litter, hundreds of Apple Snails, and the dozens of cleanups that Mobile Baykeeper hosts would not be successful without devoted members of our community.
Since serving as AVE team members, we have a newfound appreciation for volunteerism and government-led programs that benefit the community. We are so grateful to have been able to work through the AmeriCorps program with Mobile Baykeeper. There is no better organization on the Gulf Coast to serve. The mission to strive toward having clean water, clean air, and healthy communities for our area allowed for us to work with a wonderful goal in mind.
The AmeriCorps program has made all of our success as Bay AVE possible. Without this program, we never would have been able to meet such incredible people. When we see the smiles on the faces of volunteers who feel good after doing good in their community, it makes all of the hard work worth it.