Servicemembers make a difference

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman R. Michael Longoria
  • 11th Wing Public Affairs
Thirty-six Bolling Airman along with another 140 servicemembers from the Air Force District of Washington, Naval District of Washington and Military District of Washington spent four hours at Kenilworth Aquatic Garden Oct. 25 winterizing the park.

Airmen, Soldiers and Sailors from the National Capital Region spent 704 volunteer-hours cleaning up the District of Columbia national park as a joint service project for national "Make a Difference Day."

"I am very delighted with the Make a Difference Day event," said Douglas Rowley, KAQ gardener supervisor. "The military community can be proud of the accomplishments that were made here at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens this past Saturday."

"Make a Difference Day" is the most encompassing national day of helping others, a celebration of neighbors helping neighbors. Created by USA WEEKEND Magazine, "Make a Difference Day" is an annual event that takes place on the fourth Saturday of October. In 2007, 3 million people volunteered on that day, accomplishing thousands of projects across the nation.

"This volunteer effort is a way for our military to assist the community at large, in this case the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, which are right here in Washington, D.C.," said Vikki A. Torrence, an 11th Wing Airman and Family Readiness Center community readiness consultant at Bolling Air Force Base, D.C.

Volunteers were divided into four groups:

Group 1 weeded, mulched and edged the entrance flower beds and islands.  This team generated 52 bags of leaf and brush debris and spread 16 cubic yards of mulch.

Group 2 removed trash and litter from the Anacostia River and surrounding wetlands. This team removed 1,100 pounds of litter from the river wearing boots and using pickup tongs.

Group 3 removed invasive plant material from the river trail and boardwalk. This team removed vines and other plant material from the trails edge and from the newly planted trees along the trail.

Group 4 removed water hyacinth and lotus leaves from the ponds.  Some team members wore waders or boots while some worked from boats. The team removed annual aquatic plant material from the ponds and saved the national park service crew several days of work.

"The entire work force was courteous, enthusiastic and hard working," said Mr. Rowley. "I would even say they had a lot of fun, especially the groups working in the water. The volunteers worked 704 man hours, saving the park $6,336. In these times of tight budgets, that savings will help us better meet our goals of continued service to our visitors and surrounding community."

KAQ, home to the original tidal wetland in the nation's capitol, includes a variety of plants, marshes, ponds and trails.

"This park is home to wetlands, plant life and wild life that depend on a healthy eco-system to function properly," said Mrs. Torrence. "Our assistance to winterize and restore the park helps keep it as a place where thousands of visitors and schools can continue to learn and tour this natural treasure."

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