Congratulations to Riverkeeper.org on its 10th Anniversary of Sweep, the annual event bringing community volunteers together to clean up parks and shorelines along the Hudson River!
Jen Benson, who has served as Sweep Coordinator for six years, planned the milestone event with help from assistant Corey Watanabe. The exciting news is that in spite of Covid-19, Sweep was a great success: “We had an explosion of interest–2,607 people at 147 sites. That’s a record for us!”
Most astonishing of all, volunteers collected 2,056 bags of trash, 2.7 tons of recycling, and two tons of tires, as well as other large debris including such things as couches, toilets, metal pipes, plywood, barrels, ropes, and foam blocks.
How did Sweep 2021 deal with the ubiquitous pandemic guidelines? The biggest challenge was “site capacity,” referring to how many volunteers could be placed at a site. This year, some sites needed to have fewer volunteers. All of the sites fully complied with social distancing and mask requirements.
Sweep Means More Than Meets the Eye
Jen, who moved to a new position at Riverkeeper, reflected on her six years of coordinating Sweep: “Riverkeeper Sweep has become a prime example of our approach to work together across a vast region to help restore the Hudson.”
Monica Dietrich, Senior Membership Manager, who stepped in to support the volunteer effort until a new Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator was hired, said that Riverkeeper Sweep is “way more than a single day of service for the Hudson River. It represents a collaborative effort between the Riverkeeper team and local partners,” people who care about their communities and want to help in some way.
As of September 19, Katie Leung has assumed the role of Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator. In addition to handling Sweep, she “will be overseeing Riverkeeper’s year-round volunteer opportunities–from habitat restoration projects to administrative support.” Monica is especially pleased that Katie will be key in re-envisioning and launching the Ambassador program “for dedicated volunteers who can represent Riverkeeper at community events.”
Katie Leung said, “I hope to carry on the great and inspiring work that my colleagues laid down already…. The groundwork is there for me… and I aim to continue the effort of getting volunteers who are willing to help in Sweep and other service opportunities onboard.”
Participating in Sweep does not require membership in Riverkeeper. But joining Riverkeeper is easy. In fact, a donation as small as a dollar snags you a membership in this worthwhile organization. That membership, Monica said, “helps to make it possible for us to protect and restore the Hudson River as well as to safeguard drinking water sources.”
Plans for 2022
If you and your family, neighbors and friends are interested in participating in Sweep 2022, jot the tentative date of Saturday, May 7, on your calendars!
Katie and Monica encourage readers to check out www.riverkeeper.org/sweep and “sign up to be on our mailing list.” Interested in leading a site or recommending a site that you think could use a community clean-up? Don’t hesitate to email Katie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Given the outstanding success of Sweep events and their positive impact on our environment, why not become part of this coming year’s 11th Annual Sweep?