Will Work For Free
A Blog About My Experiences in Volunteer Work

Sutro Stewards Volunteer Work Day with REI and Bay Area Ridge Trail Council

For what ever reason, I keep on going back to work with The Sutro Stewards. A year or so ago I did my first volunteer day with this group and have probably made the monthly commitment about 7 times since. Like a lot of these volunteer days there is some regulars, new comers and the organizers. Something about this group though has resonated with me as a place I feel comfortable and have always had a good time.

On the first Saturday of every month The Sutro Stewards, led by Craig Dawson who founded the organization in 2005 meet on Mount Sutro above UCSF Medical Center. A lot of people think Mount Sutro refers to the area above the Cliff House by Ocean Beach, but alas that is a different Sutro area. Adolph Sutro was a very wealthy and prominent early San Franciscan and owned many areas of the city.

On this particular day, the Sutro Stewards were joined by representatives and volunteer workers from REI and the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council to make this volunteer day something out of the ordinary. Through this larger partnership, 12 locations and over 700 volunteers were spread out across the Bay Area to work toward completing an all connecting ridge trail through the bay area.

The usual sleepy crowd of about 15 to 30 people which is expected for a Sutro work day was dwarfed by about 100 volunteers flooding the woodland parking lot above UCSF. It was something to see, that many people. It really made me proud to be a regular attendee of the work days, it was cool having all these new people join in on the fun and be amazed by the beauty and expanse of trails on Mount Sutro.

It is tough to organize that many volunteers and I wondered what our level of productivity was going to look like. Others shared my thoughts. But once everyone was given tools and organizers and leaders gave a brief but thorough safety talk, all hands were on deck and the work was persistent.

We put on gloves, grabbed tools and collectively created well over one hundred yards of brand new trail. Cutting into the foliage and removing weeds, fallen trees, thick bushes and every other matter of overgrown greenery that stood in the way of bringing an existing trail back from the dead.

Afterward, everyone reconveened at the recently built community center on the hillside and a free lunch was provided by chipotle Mexican Grill. REI presented The Bay Area Ridge Trail Council with a check for $25,000 and a raffle sent people home with a few new toys. It was the perfect testament to what can be accomplished with volunteer work and comunity effort, and of course the weight that a company like REI can swing. A lot of the people I met who had never been there had heard about the event through REI’s event calendar. This is a fact that I feel really speaks well of REI, despite their large status they still work to protect and promote the landscape in which their merchandise is intended to be used. So good for them.

Usually the Sutro events end with free pizza and a keg of beer for volunteers, a touch that has my self and many others coming back again and again. But this special event was refreshing and a lot of fun. It was awesome walking the length of the newly forged trail after all the people had left, a lot had been accomplished.

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