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Mills swim team battles weather for day of service

The Mills College swim team just couldn’t stay dry during the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend.

Members of the team volunteered to serve on the day the federal government has deemed a National Day of Service, taking the idea that the holiday was “a day on, and not a day off” to heart. The team braved cold and rainy weather conditions to help restore trails and meadows in Shepard’s Canyon Park.

The park, which is located in Montclair, has served as a collection site for construction equipment over the years, though it is not an official dump site, according to head swim coach Neil Virtue.

“People in the surrounding community decided to take back the land and stopped the dumping,” said Virtue. “They work year long on the projects but they get the most help on Martin Luther King Jr. day.”

Participating teams were asked to wear gloves and sturdy shoes. Their tasks at hand included building an approach trail to a new bridge, path upkeep, pulling up invasive species to protect native plants, maintenance to Tori gate and casting wild flower seeds at the scenic overlook.

Other participants besides our swim team included advocates from around the surrounding Shepard’s Canyon community.

“We wanted to establish a relationship with a place near by. We are taking ownership over a part of the community,” said Erin Lucas, assistant swim coach and a Mills graduate.

The team volunteered their time as long as the weather would permit. Around 1 p.m. work ceased due to the increasingly bad weather.

“We set up an alternative activity to do for the girls while we were there,” said Lucas, “because it was pouring rain. It was really cool though, because none of them took advantage of it. They all took the rain and the mud head on.”

“I felt encouraged to see a large number of people ready to work even though they could easily just be sitting within the warmth of their homes. It made us realize that if these people could work in the rain, then we definitely could work in the rain alongside them,” said first year Desirae Tongco.

“I liked feeling like a part of a bigger group. I was proud of the team for sticking through the pouring rain. I am thankful for their attitudes and work ethics,” said Virtue.

Senior Amelia True said, “I think the remarkable thing was that even in the rain, and in the smaller than last years turn out, we were able to accomplish all of the tasks that we set out to do.”