Recently, Collette Foundation volunteers spent time in Miami, FL to give back at the Tourism Cares for Miami event. There were over 300 volunteers in total from throughout the travel industry who took on three different projects: clearing debris from the presently closed Miami Marine Stadium, planting trees at Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, and planting sea grass at North Point.
It is always a unique and rewarding experience to join together with colleagues and other tourism professionals in rejuvenating tourism sites in need. Helping to protect the environment and wildlife along the way provides tremendous satisfaction in the work we do. These are the projects:
Miami Marine Stadium: The stadium opened in 1963 and was once a venue for boat races and concerts until 1992, when Hurricane Andrew caused damage. As a result, the venue was considered condemned and has been closed ever since. Over the 20 years of abandonment, trash and debris had accumulated. In one day, the Tourism Cares Volunteers cleared away 6 large dumpsters of trash to begin the restoration and eventual reopening of the site.
Virginia Key Beach Park: In 1945 Miami-Dade County opened Virginia Key Beach as its “colored only” beach. It was closed in the early 1980’s and, after being closed for 26 years, was reopened to the public in 2008. This historic park has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The trust that now runs the park has worked over the past several years to restore the ecosystem that was damaged over the many years of neglect. Tourism Cares Volunteers were tasked to plant over 800 trees in hopes of returning indigenous vegetation to the property to assist birds in their yearly migration.
North Point: This important part of the key had begun to erode. As part of the ecological efforts on the key, the beach needed stabilizing. A dune was built, but grass needed to be planted to reinforce the sand. Tourism Cares Volunteers planted over 10,000 sea grass plants along the dune to help secure the dune from erosion.
This is my 10th year participating in Tourism Cares’ give back events and this one was the best one yet. Yes, it was hard work, and seemed to be a daunting task in the morning. But it turned out to be a tremendous success in the end, and all three groups finished their tasks.
Tourism is in our hearts, and it gives us a warm feeling knowing that we have done our part to give back. We all went home with new friends and an unmeasurable sense of accomplishment, ready to do it again. When saying our goodbyes, we would all say to each other…“See you at the next one!”
Author: Cassie Stetkiewicz