Saturday, May 23, 2009
The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation NatsTown GreenUp
“If not for The Nationals, all of these people would not be here today, on our boats, helping out, giving their free time for our cause," proclaimed Bob Nixon Founder and Chairman of The Earth Conservation Corps. "This is all because of Marla (Lerner Tanenbaum) and The Nationals Dream Foundation."
Mr. Nixon was standing in Anacostia Park in Washington, DC, having just help ferry approximately 60 volunteers by boat from ECC's SW Half Street location, just a stones throw away from Nationals Park. Friday May 22, 2009 was The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation's Inaugural NatsTown GreenUp. The "Rally Around The River" get together to help restore one of America's most polluted waterways--The Anacostia River. Close to 100 volunteers from the Washington Nationals front office, Alion Science & Technology, Capitol Riverfront BID, Capital Rowing Club, HNTB Corporation, and Sidwell Friends gathered at 8:30AM this past Friday Morning--the usual Memorial Day Weekend Getaway Day--to again help serve those in need. A trademark of The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation.
“This is really a no brainer," believes Marla Lerner Tanenbaum--Chair of The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. "We are in this community and will be here for a long time. It's clear the Earth Conservation Corps has programs that are worth supporting. I believe we’ve helped to put these issues of the surrounding area and The Anacostia River more on the map. And we are using that influence as a Major League Team to get changes done."
The volunteers were divided into three groups. The first of which headed off to The South Capitol Street Heliport to clean up trash and debris on The Anacostia just SW of Nationals Park--on the opposite side of the South Capitol Street Bridge. The remaining two groups were assigned to watercraft and were ferried down The Anacostia to Anacostia Park were they unloaded and spent three hours methodically working through the river's edge and underbrush to clean up the many, many plastic bottles, cans, trash and even a rusted Pellet Gun and worn out pocket knife. Work that couldn't be close to finishing in the short time allocated--but is a first step into making a dent into repairing the long lost waterway. A smaller sub group headed off in one of the boats to pick up trash floating in the river itself.
“The proximity of the (Nationals) stadium to the river and our community organization at our very front door—is really a perfect fit," continued Mr. Nixon. "We have folks here helping out, not just from The Nationals, but our other neighbors that have never been out on the river—never even cared before--participating today. All that’s because of The Nationals. This relationship is moving forward just fabulously.”
The Volunteer Group representing Our Washington Nationals included not only Dream Foundation Staff, but also many Ushers, Maintenance, Communication and Front Office Employees from Nationals Park--approximately 25 in all. Each helper was given a nice Green Curly "W" GreenUp Tee-Shirt as a thanks for coming out.
“This is an important partnership," say Pete Cooper, Usher Captain & Supervisor at Nationals Park's Presidents Club. "You have to realize that half the people who work in the park and are on our staff actually live in this neighborhood. This gives them the opportunity to see that others want to help them to rebuild their neighborhoods and be a part of something special in the future.”
For three hours the volunteers diligently worked The Anacostia River between Nationals Park and Anacostia Park. And when finished--headed back to The Earth Conservation Corps' Headquarters at 2000 Half Street, SW to hear the final numbers of the trash haul. 50 Full Black Bags of debris, two tires, one lawn chair, the pellet gun and knife. A final tally that barely scrapes the surface, but sets the tone for better things to come on The Anacostia River.
"When we first started as owners of The Washington Nationals, I didn’t really understand how much change we could possibly affect," now understands Ms. Tanenbaum. "But the past few years have proven that we can have a huge impact on the area surrounding Nationals Park. And our leadership is helping to get things done while involving the entire community. I can't tell you how happy that makes me feel.”
"And when I first met Marla," added Bob Nixon, she said to me, "I guess we are going to be partners forever!! (chuckling--fondly remembering the moment). "I think she's right because this is all for the right reasons."
After the GreenUp concluded all volunteers and ECC Staff were invited to The Picnic Area of Nationals Park on the Main Concourse near The Exxon Kids Zone for a free lunch. Hard Times Cafe provided Chili Dogs, Giffords Ice Cream & Candy Company Dessert and Levy Restaurants Water, Soft Drinks and Refreshments. Each participant also given two free tickets to this Sunday's Game at Nationals Park between Our Washington Nationals and The Baltimore Orioles.