Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Marines Meryl and Omar!

This Memorial Day, Potomac Conservancy would like to give a special thanks to the servicemen and women who have volunteered their time in service of local clean water initiatives. It is an honor to work with such kind, hardworking individuals. Thank you for your service to our country and to our local communities! 

We were honored to host Meryl, Omar, and their fellow group of Marines at the spring Potomac River Cleanup Day. They and other volunteers joined us to remove shoreline litter at Teddy Roosevelt Island in Washington, DC.

These Marines meant business! In just a few short hours they filled more than half a dozen trash bags  that's about 200 pounds of litter!

The volunteer event was part of a regional cleanup coordinated by our friends at the Alice Ferguson Foundation. More than 13,000 volunteers from across the region removed 447,000 pounds of trash from the Potomac's shorelines. That's the equivalent weight of 31 African elephants!

Hear what Meryl and Omar have to say about their volunteer experience and what surprised them the most about the Potomac:

Q. How did you hear about our event?
Meryl: I did my own research because I’ve done cleanups before with my past units. And it’s something I always enjoy because I’ve always loved cleaning up the Earth. It just seems like something that should be done every day so there’s less pollution. And I’ve always recycled. As a kid, my parents taught me to recycle everything.

Omar: I heard about it when I was in the school house. I decided to get out and enjoy as much as possible because I like volunteering. I’ve been volunteering ever since 2010, and I’ve got a green thumb myself. I like to recycle. 

Q. Why is it important to volunteer at a river cleanup?
Meryl: If we’re drinking the Potomac, if 80 percent of our water comes from here, we should be doing something about maintaining the cleanliness of the river. I think everyone that lives here should. 

Omar: Over several years, decades, we’ve done a great deal to our Earth. It's our time to actually give back. 

Q. Were you surprised that your drinking water comes from the Potomac?
Meryl: Yes, very surprised. 

Omar: Yes, I am. 

Q. Has there been anything else that’s surprised you?
Omar: We encountered a dead fish. A huge dead fish. But mainly, it’s not really a surprise, but I’m very disappointed by how we can be reckless and so irresponsible to pollute. It’s that easy to take your trash when you’re leaving.

Meryl: To me it was actually the joggers and passerbys that said thank you for your service. Now as military we get that a lot but just out here not in uniform doing something we believe in, and having people say thank you for that, it’s rewarding. 

Q. Is this the first time you’ve been out along the Potomac?
Omar: This is the very first time. 

Meryl: Yes. If I had known sooner, I’ve been here since January, I would’ve started then. As many weekends as I could volunteering.

Q. Does having river access so close in any way contribute to your quality of life?
Meryl: I like driving by and seeing the water. It’s nice to see a river while just driving by.

Omar: Absolutely. 

Get Your Hands Dirty For Clean Water

Potomac Conservancy would love to see you out on the shores of the Potomac. Find an upcoming opportunity to get outside for a cleanup by visiting our calendar of Upcoming Events > 

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