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August 2002 - Youth Groups Maintain the Reservation
Secretary Durand's visit to Alewife Reservation to kick off Biodiversity in June, did much to increase the interest of city youth in urban wild public parkland which is very accessible behind the Alewife T .With a large crowd of Friends, Durand said, "This is a very special place for youth to learn about insects, mammals, birds amphibians and reptiles and why we have to preserve them."
Job Site supervisor at Just-A-Start of Youth Build division, Charles Parker, was very pleased with the older group mentoring and cooperating with summer crews, usually working separately in work projects. A real sense of comraderie here today, setting goals for the community, and enjoying outdoor activities, in spite of the heat." Vinnie, about to graduate this year from JAS said, "I think it was pretty clean, and the satisfying work was to preventing folks from getting poked in the eyes or tripping over vines, and getting scratched by the blackberry thorns."
On the scene to help the group were MDC work crews, Sean Gallup and Keith Donnelly who led the group out to the Beaver Lodge and made sure the clipping was helpful to those families and residences living close by, who might want to see the beaver cuttings, and the lodge which is immersed in a large black willow tree at the end of the Little River pathway. They also assisted in placing posts after youth maintained the paths, in order that visitors know the origins and destination of the chosen path, for whereabouts and safety purposes.
Barry Hazard, summer youth staff of 8 years, said, "I was amazed to find out how much green space there is in Cambridge that I didn't know about. Glad I came out here."
Joel Miranda, head of Community Services at JAS said, "I was skeptical at first, but after FAR explained how it would be done, "Youth Build and the Summer Crew did very well. The trails were highly overgrown and not recognizable before we started, but now folks can go in and see the woods, marshes and river. I think our students better understand the need to help keep our green space clean. The trip was well-planned. Our City kids are not used to being in the woods. They were appalled at the homeless people's trash, and amazed to see how many people sleep there by Yates Pond. Their eyes were widely opened this Monday."
Mike Basinisi said, "I really didn't know that a river was down here." I did not mind doing the path for further recreation of those who come here, and I feel we did a decent job." Liz Wanzo said, "I don't like to clean, but this is different, and I wouldn't mind coming out to clean again. Right now, getting home to shower is next on my list."
Sara Fass, long term staff at JAS Youth Build said, "This was a great day for me. It demonstrated lots of teamwork and FAR introduced us to the natural resources and wildlife at Alewife; and we, in turn, were able to give back to the community." Our four groups were able to maintain the trails and make them passable for others. Our team got much debris, and the lunch provided by Bread and Circus was delicious.
Just-A-Start is a City program which receives federal funding and trains youth in carpentry, painting, and many job skills.
Carlos Sandoval enjoyed the view from the top of the T-station August 2nd. Along with other students from Summerbridge Cambridge, an educational summer enrichment program, Carlos was able to observe the results of spending several hours picking up trash, learning about nature and discovering the urban wild pointed out by Ellen Mass of the Friends of Alewife Reservation who invited the group to help steward the area on 8/2.
The 75 middle school students in the program participated in Dare to Care Day -- a special event of community service learning. "It's a day where the students do projects at various sites throughout the city. When they come back at the end of the day, we really notice a change in their spirits and attitude" said Matt Mattila, staff member headquartered with the camp at Tobin Elementary School this summer.
Students were especially sympathetic to the concerns of others as they discussed the plight of the homeless while cleaning up around several homeless camps. "I felt good about cleaning an area near my home," said Syed Razi, a student and local Rindge resident, living at Fresh Pond Apartments, who never knew the Reservation was there.
In addition to cleaning up local parks, students offered assistance this day at youth camps, recycling plants, government offices, adult day care, and mural painting.
"The Alewife Reservation is a great place to work in, as it is beautiful open space, green and welcoming. I live in Florida, but see that you are lucky to have this in such a crowded area. My group was impressed with the flower varieties, and terrain such as marsh and forest, all together. Little River could be improved and developed for good recreation and fishing," said Matt. "IT is a rare spot and could be a great place to learn about nature."
Summerbridge teaches local youth cooperative and investigative skills.
Just A Start Program
Friends of Alewife Reservation