Roger Masson: Miami Service 2020


Rubell Museum. Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/ CC BY 4.0.

Hi, my name is Roger Masson, and I am 19 years old. I was born in Miami, but I spent 11 years up in the city of Alachua, Florida where I grew up and spent most of my childhood. Being part of this class has been a true gift; I have grown to cherish this city much more and understand its rich history.

For this project, I was fortunate enough to volunteer on three separate occasions with two unique institutions. In total, I volunteered for twelve and a half hours. The first location I helped at was the Chicken Key, situated just a canoe-ride away from the Deering Estate. I volunteered on October 14, 2020 and on December 2nd, 2020, in the form of an extensive trash-collection. The next institution I volunteered at was the Bakehouse Complex, in Wynwood. Here, I was able collaborate with my classmates to assist a local artist. 

Before the pandemic, I felt pretty active since I was volunteering, and I made it a point to be as connected as possible with the opportunities to help out in my community. For the past nine months, however, I have been afraid to continue with this passion due to the current health crisis given that my grandmother also lives with me. This class allowed me to partake in volunteering again and demonstrated that it is possible to continue volunteering in my community when the necessary precautions are taken and respected. I was able to safely engage with my classmates on both instances and discover new passions. Although my major is not directly related to the activities I partook in, these events where enrichening on a personal level and served as opportunities to step out of my comfort zone and make more of an effort to branch out.

Chicken Key Cleanup: 

On October 14th and December 2nd of 2020, Professor John W. Bailly informed us of the opportunity to perform a cleanup at Chicken Key during our scheduled class time. What made this experience even more exciting was that our divided class, due to covid-19, was finally able to meet together and collaborate.

Bakehouse Art Complex:

On October 18th, Professor John Bailly connected our class with the artist, Lauren Shapiro to help her finish her project bring awareness to the critical state of coral reefs.

Describe specifically what you did and on which days. This should read as a personal and academic diary. Include photographs documenting your experience from start to end.

October 14, 2020, Chicken Key Cleanup:

Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

I arrived at the Deering Estate at 10:00 A.M., anxious to embark on my first canoe ride. Luckily, I got paired up with a new friend, Brittany Sanchez, who had experience canoeing and assured me that I had nothing to worry about! In preparation for our ride out to Chicken Key, I made sure that I placed my cellphone in a secure location and got ready to set sail.

We arrived at Chicken Key around 10:40 a.m., giving Brittany and me plenty of time to achieve our mission to make this key as clean as possible and alleviate some of the damage caused by pollution.

In no time, we were able to fill up our canoe with four trash-bags inundated with miscellaneous items like shoes and plastic bottles—among other things. We also collected an enormous blue banister that was stuck in the branches next to where we tied our canoe. Additionally, we picked up a wooden pallet, many containers, and more random items that did not fit in the trash bags. 


Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

After this arduous task, our class was able to enjoy a special lunch together and share what interesting things we picked up.

October 28:

Bakehouse Art Complex:

After volunteering at Chicken Key and “getting our hands dirty” to make an environmental difference and working to minimize the accumulation of trash at this location, it was neat to be able to partake in a project with a similar aim– but through the use of clay. 

Lauren Shapiro’s vision was to bring awareness to the severe conditions that are currently threatening the existence of coral reefs. Due to my brief experience with clay, it took me a while to get the hang of making shells out of clay. 

Kathalinna and I worked together and after many failed efforts, we were able to create a container full of clay shells!

Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

After doing creating enough shells, we were ready to begin attaching them to the unique canvas in this case, which represented a coral reef. 

Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.
Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.
Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.
Roger, Kathalinna, and Victoria. Photo by Professor John Bailly / CC BY 4.0.

This was such a cool project, not only because of the important message behid it but also because of our ability to contribute as a class. It was special to see that Lauren Shapiro incorporated her community in this work of art.

December 2:

On December 2nd, we returned to Chicken Key as a class for the second time. During this visit we only had a two-hour class period, but we were still able to pick up a decent amount of trash.

Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.
Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

Due to our time constraint, we ventured out to the mangroves located south of Chicken Key on Biscayne Bay. I was in shock of the overwhelming amount of trash that gets lost in this area. I began to feel dizzy at our time of arrival at the mangroves, but luckily my classmate was generous enough to offer me a protein bar which helped tremendously. Moments after, I was quickly able to pick up enough garbage to fill two trash bags. There were so many objects obviously out of place, such as flip-flops and water bottles among other items that should have been properly discarded. 


Given our current global situation, the opportunities to volunteer in person are exceptionally scarce. It has been a true blessing to have been part of this course that not only offers the chance to do so during class time but promotes doing so with the required precautions so that we remain safe and healthy. Each volunteer experience instilled a sense of responsibility to make an effort to make a difference in my community. There is so much work to be done to make this world a better place and the truth of the matter is that no action or contribution small. Moreover, I noticed that I enjoy working with a partner during these three occasions and that helped me feel more comfortable and made the workload less stressful. In the future, I am going to look for opportunities that encourage teamwork and collaboration. 

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