Saturday, May 8 was the sixteenth time a dedicated group of volunteers got together to participate in the Petaluma River Cleanup. Three years ago, I became chair of the committee that plans the event. I came to be chair not because I wanted the position but because every one else on the committee said they wouldn’t before I did. I was the last one left standing.

I wasn’t sure if I could find the time to be chair and having never been a chair, I had no idea what I was expected to do.

I learned that as chair most every week for the three months leading up to the cleanup, I would meet with a small group to plan the cleanup. The chair, it turns out, is responsible for calling the meetings and coming up with an agenda. Most meetings last an hour or so; occasionally longer. As the day of the event approaches, there are more meetings and many tasks that need to be done so that the cleanup will take place.

It’s not always easy to find the time to make the meetings or do the things that need to be done but the show must go on; somehow we always find the time to do what needs to be done.

After all the meetings and phone calls and after the last email is sent, the river cleanup happens. Getting the job done has taken a considerable amount of time and effort. But for all I’ve given the cleanup, after it’s over, I always feel that I’ve gotten more out of the experience than I put into it.

My favorite part of yesterday’s cleanup was having a den of Cub Scouts come to help. They had a chance to spend time in one of Petaluma’s many wild places and clean up the River while they did. It was a good feeling for me to know I had helped create an opportunity for these young boys to get involved in community service.

If you’d like to learn more about the cleanup, visit If you’d like to know how good it feels to give back to your community, Volunteer!