November 19, 2013

The Steward Program Changed My Life – 
but that wasn’t the unexpected part. 
-  Kenny, a 27-year old Salinas Resident, 
Sanctuary Steward Class of 2012
All my buddies were getting up to trouble that I didn’t want to be a part of.  They were getting locked up and making decisions I didn’t agree with.  I looked on Monterey Weekly to see what was happening locally and saw an ad for a beach cleanup.  I went and enjoyed myself, met some cool people.  Started going every month.   That’s when Ronn told me to join the Stewards class.

The first few classes didn't really seem like my scene.  Everyone seemed really Santa Cruz and hippie and green.  I didn't feel like I fit in, but my dad encouraged me to just stick it out.  I’m so happy that I did.  I realized that first impressions are not always correct.

My favorite part of the Stewards Program is finding new beaches and beautiful spots to hang out! Also getting to meet new people.  We can often get focused on how different we are.  But at a beach cleanup, we’re all doing the same thing and are at least interested in the same goal.  

Joining the Stewards program changed my life -- which was kind of the point.  
But the unexpected part was that I could create change in others.

A few weeks ago, my friend from Salinas inspired his family to pick up their waste.  Before, Adam thought I was crazy when I yelled at him for throwing his cigarette butts in the street.  But after watching my actions and realizing that I was serious, Adam started making changes in the way he dealt with his butts.  

He went camping at Arroyo Seco with family and friends.  He went around picking up all of their butts and the butts from nearby camp sites.  At first, just like he did to me, people made fun of him.  Called him a hippie.  He kept at it though.  His family started helping and stopped throwing their butts on the ground.

I also enjoy the DockWalkers program.  I can relate to the working-class fisherman.  Often environmental regulations are misinterpreted, come with a stigma and feel like they are top down without involving those who they will impact the most.  I like speaking with fishermen, hearing their stories and discussing the importance of regulations.
Kenny on the right at a Dockwalker event this year in
Moss Landing with fellow Sanctuary Steward John Scally
and SOS program manager, Rachel Kippen.
I selfishly volunteer! 
Whenever I stop volunteering for a while, there is not as much good in my life.  I volunteer because it gives me good karma.  
You get what you give!

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