All my buddies were getting up to trouble. 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 someone 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 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 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, my friend 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, he 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.
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!