by Senior Airman Amber E. N. Jacobs
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
3/19/2013 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- About 200 Teams Shaw members scoured the Shaw Wateree Recreation Area on their fourth annual beautification day near Camden, S.C., March 16. Volunteers came out to Shaw's lakeside site to rake, trim, paint, pick up litter and maintain landscaping.
The Wateree Recreation Area is composed of 25 acres of land and about one mile of shore line. It hosts more than 50,000 people a year, and with a staff of only five people it is difficult to maintain the grounds without the help from volunteers, explained Curt Marshall, 20th Force Support Squadron manager of the park. The beautification day really kicks off the season by cleaning up and maintaining the grounds after the winter season, he said.
The Wateree Recreation Area beautification day was created in 2010 after several winter storms flooded the property on three separate occasions leaving the area overrun with debris, trash and branches, said Mary Marshall, 20th Force Support Squadron publicist. A single customer came up with the idea of having volunteers help with the winter storm cleanup. Throughout the last several years, the cleanup has become an annual spring tradition and is the largest volunteer effort at the site, she added. Initially, the program started off with only 57 volunteers, but over the last four years the effort has grown into more than 200 people participating in the yearly restoration. While most of the volunteers are active-duty members from Team Shaw, family members, retirees and local groups such as the Girl Scouts come out to support the effort as well.
"Volunteering gives individuals an opportunity to give back," said Lt. Col. Dalian Washington, 20th Force Support Squadron commander. "As military members we have a volunteer ethos, so this event gives people a mechanism or avenue to act on that ethos to volunteer. It has been amazing. Not only do people come out and volunteer but they bring their own equipment and supplies. One lady purchased flowers with no expectation of anything in return, but a 'thank you."
All of the volunteer contributions at the site this year are expected to save the Air Force approximately $10,000 in pay, Mary Marshall explained. Efforts like this not only save a massive amount of payroll dollars and man-hours, but they instill a sense of pride and ownership of the facility, Curt Marshall added. It also shows that the Airmen take pride in what is offered to them.
Wateree has a new addition this year -- a community vegetable and herb garden. The community garden will be a seasonal effort for visitors to tend to and enjoy. "This is a community effort, when folks forget to bring tomatoes for their salads or burgers they can come out and take one," said Curt Marshall. "Plus, we want to teach the children who come here how to garden. I learned as a tiny tot how to garden from my grandfather, so it will help teach them about gardening skills and the life cycle of food."
For more information about the Wateree Recreation Area visit www.20thfss.com or call 803-432-7976.