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Cesar Chavez Day of Service


In order to pay homage to Cesar Chavez, perhaps the most well-known Latino American social activist, a group of students organized by Heather Wylie participated in a “Day of Service.” Students and faculty members congregated at Whiskeytown Recreation Area on a foreboding Saturday morning, to work at their designated places. Members of the National Park Service (NPS) led each team to their prospective tasks, such as those who would be staining new benches to be installed, or those who would be clearing invasive weeds, or those who would be cleaning up the historic Camden House.



As the sky stayed overcast, holding the rain back, a small group I was a part of proceeded to Brandy Creek Beach, to participate in ‘Beach Maintenance.’ We followed after Dave, our NPS attaché, who foretold the beauty of the empty beach. The lake had receded farther back than I had ever seen, exposing the gentle slopes and sandbar that usually is deep enough that we stand on it and only our heads are above the water. In winter, brandy creek is not the slow, meandering waterway, a placid lake.


For those who are not familiar with Brandy Creek Beach, it is split into two different areas, and we were tasked with cleaning up the area closest to parking lot B.


Dave brought supplies such as shovels, rakes, trash pickers, and garbage bags. We were initially tasked with clearing the beach of trash, and Dave described Brandy Creek as the “Wal-mart of Whiskeytown Lake,” no doubt referring to the high volume of patrons who are perhaps less than eco-friendly.
Perhaps I expected something such as the world out of Wall-e, with towers of garbage, but in reality it was much more manageable. The Park Service had cleared out a lot of it, but there was still more to be done. We fanned out and meandered through the empty park, past the moss-covered trees and well-used tables and benches.


The majority of the trash we picked up were little things, perhaps the items that people consider too small to take the effort to throw away, such as straws, water bottle caps, the tabs that open soda cans, and, most of all, cigarette butts. “It’s as if people don’t even consider them litter,” a fellow volunteer and instructor at Shasta College, Susan, mentioned.


There were, of course, a smattering of water bottles or chip bags, and the most depressing were the pieces of litter found less than five feet from trash cans, as if patrons could not take the extra effort to actually throw away their garbage.


After we cleared as much of the garbage as possible, we began to clean up the park by raking the leaves and twigs and acorns that had collected on vast expanses of the trails and parking lot. We spread them off the trails, so they could decompose, or if there was simply too many, filled up garbage bags full of them to be disposed of.
The whole experience was strangely peaceful, without the cacophony of people that normally flood this beach, the silence permeated into our souls and provided a sense of tranquility.


David provided us tools and directions, but really it was the spirit of the workers that got the job done. He worked along with us, all former strangers but bonded through the fact we wanted to be a part of the greater good.




We each pay homage to our heroes in different ways. Many people this weekend chose to celebrate the memory of Cesar Chavez by working to better Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. We did small, yet important tasks, and perhaps even made new friends. Volunteer work is always rewarding, perhaps not monetarily, but in a much deeper way.


If one has the time, I strongly urge them to volunteer to whatever cause they find noteworthy, and when next year comes around, don’t forget about the Cesar Chavez Day of Service.


Written by: Ryan Loughrey

Photos by: Jenny Brewer and Ryan Loughrey


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