On a balmy Sunday afternoon last fall, a group of young families and other members from Temple Sholom participated in The Alliance For The Great Lakes Adopt-A-Beach™ volunteer program at the Montrose Avenue Beach.
With the cooperation of the weather, we were off to a good start for the activities, which were facilitated by the Temple’s Eco Chavura committee and coordinated with the Mischpacha group. Not surprisingly, most of the volunteers were young children and their parents.
The afternoon began with a relaxing picnic lunch, followed by a discussion led by Rabbi Shoshanah Conover. The Rabbi gathered all the volunteers in a circle, including her own family, to talk about our environment. Everyone was given the opportunity to answer the question: where is your favorite outdoor place? It was fun to listen to the young kids’ answers especially. One said the Rocky Mountains, while others replied with the beach or their own backyard. The Rabbi spoke of the gifts of nature and the importance of a connection, along with gratitude towards our environment. She then concluded with a prayer.
Excited to put on gloves and explore, the kids were now anxious to begin the beach cleanup. We weren’t exactly sure how much trash we were actually going to find. After a brief survey of the beach, it looked as if others had already cleaned up the area. To the naked eye, the beach looked pretty well groomed. Upon closer inspection, we could not have been more wrong. It really helped having a lot of kids with eyes very close to the ground. These young volunteers absolutely loved it and did a phenomenal job sifting through the sand with their tiny hands and fingers, picking up all sorts of litter.
We ended up collecting 35 pounds of trash!
There was a great sense of accomplishment once we finished. One parent commented how amazing it was to see all the kids so excited to clean the massive beach, yet how difficult it is to get them to clean their own rooms.
We finished the cleanup by late afternoon, and Chicago was beginning to live up to its nickname of The Windy City. The gentle breeze was gone and gusting winds made it quite challenging to gather our water samples and make observations. Luckily, we had two brave teenagers who agreed to venture into the cold lake, collect water samples for water quality testing, and help us measure the longshore current. The young scientists in the group were also quite interested in this part and wanted to help out as much as they could.
In the end, it was a wonderful day for the all the volunteers and a huge success. Everyone wanted to know when we could participate again in the Adopt-A-Beach™ program. We were all happy to help out The Alliance For The Great Lakes in their goal to protect and restore the world’s largest surface freshwater resource.
Greg Shanin and his family are relatively new members joining the congregation last year. Greg is a volunteer member of Eco Chavura and is also very active at his daughter’s elementary school, Nettelhorst. During the summer, Greg enjoys being a counselor at the One Step At A Time Camp for children diagnosed with cancer.