The Volunteer Group Experience
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Contributed by Susan Eliot Briggs
Despite the threat of rain, the weather cooperated, and November 8th turned out to be the perfect day to build a fence. An energetic group of 30 employees from Sares Regis, a local commercial real estate development and property management firm, gathered at the entrance to the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve to learn the details of the day’s project.
Ranger Rob Cala, from the San Mateo County Parks Department, enjoys working with teams of corporate volunteers and wants the day to be as fun as it is productive. He and his colleague Ranger Miranda Holeton started with an overview of the 180-acre Reserve, which boasts pristine tidepools filled with sea anemones, hermit crabs, sea stars and chitons as well as numerous trails with spectacular views. After this introduction, he then explained the purpose of the fence and the specific tasks the group would be performing. "This is a heavily visited section of the park," Cala said, "and we needed a strong, as well as beautiful indicator, that keeps people on the trail and discourages them from getting too close to the eroding cliffs."
To make the volunteer day run smoothly, Rob and several other rangers, prepped the fence line by digging 60 holes for the posts and ordering all of the wood needed to construct the 150 yard split rail fence. The park supplied all of the tools and after a quick safety discussion, the Sares Regis employees got started building the fence.
"Many of these volunteers were project managers and clearly understood how to get a construction project done," smiled Cala. "At one point, they were doing such a good job that I said they didn’t have to make the measurements exact to the millimeter, a centimeter would be just fine." Cala went on to say, "I was impressed by their level of professionalism and most importantly by the fact that they genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves."
Christina Donovan, at Sares Regis, coordinated the day for her company. "We were looking for a project where we could be outside and give back to our local community. Many of our employees have a connection to the coast and being in the real estate industry, it was wonderful to get a chance to be hands on and do the construction ourselves."
Preparation for the project started earlier in the year when Donovan reached out to the Parks Department about possible projects. "In the last few years we have been combining our grants from the Sares Regis Foundation with a day of service," said Donovan. "This allows us to build a tighter relationship and make a bigger impact on the organization we are partnering with."
The day ended with the team from Sares Regis enjoying some food at the nearby Moss Beach Distillery and several of them commented that they are looking forward to going back and visiting "their" fence.
The San Mateo County Parks Department and San Mateo County Parks Foundation welcome groups of any size to come to any one of the 22 county parks to participate in much needed projects such as habitat restoration, trail maintenance and building projects. If you are interested please fill out the group volunteer form or contact the San Mateo County Parks Foundation at www.supportparks.org.