Luis Gutierrez is currently a junior studying English at Florida International University. He loves to watch movies, listen to old music, and play beach volleyball with his friends. He also enjoys writing and collecting vinyl records.
I was fortunate enough to volunteer with the Deering Estate located on 72nd Ave in Miami, Florida. They are a massive estate that contains the Stone House that is a preserved home that was built in the 1920’s and belonged to the famous Charles Deering. There is also the Richmond Hotel which was the first hotel in between the neighborhoods of Key West and Coconut Grove. Finally, the estate houses the Cutler Fossil Site which is an excavation site that contains remains of Paleo-Indians. It is all around an extremely historical place that is beautiful to walk around and experience.
WHY: I did not select this specific volunteer opportunity because it was one of the class meetings I had with my professor. Though I did not select it, I had an absolute great time and bonded with my fellow classmates and professor.
I connected with this opportunity through my professor, John Bailly. He managed to get our whole class to contribute in this service project and I am very thankful we were able to provide service with such a lack of challenges and obstacles.
WHERE & WHAT:
Our class met on October 6, 2021 around 10:00am at the water which is located further into the Deering Estate. When I first walked over, I saw a group of students already there along with rows of canoes on the shoreline. Once the professor noticed that everyone was here, he began to talk about the importance of what we were doing that day. He also spoke on tips for paddling and that we needed to have a partner. The person in the front of the canoe would act as the engine while the person in the back would be in charge of steering. Unfortunately, we had more people than canoes so my canoe needed to have 3 people inside of it. Once everyone got into their canoes we immediately set sail to Chicken Key which was around 3 miles from the Deering Estate shore.
We arrived to the shore in like 35 minutes unless it was longer and it seemed fast for me. We tied our canoes to the mangroves with a long rope. Since paddling over took a lot of energy, the whole class decided to take a small break and go into the water. The water was super refreshing and gave us the energy we needed to continue our mission. Our personal goal was to fill 4 bags with trash that does not belong on the idea. We went all along the shore and found many piles of trash along with loose small pieces of garbage such as bottle caps. We filled many bags and proceeded to load them up onto the canoes. After loading them up, we went around Chicken Key and took in where we were. We relaxed for a bit and took some pictures before returning to the Deering Estate shore. We threw the trash onto a truck and then unloaded it into a dumpster. There we said our goodbyes and left with a smile on our faces.
This volunteer experience was really something special. I loved paddling with my classmates and bonding with them. Even though it was hot day, I had a ton of fun doing something meaningful and cleaning the world that we live in. In my opinion, the whole excursion was a complete success due to everything being planned out perfectly. Because of the professor doing this several times, he knew exactly what to expect and prepared us well. Taking lunch, a water cooler, wearing sleeves, and water shoes were just some of the tips that really made this trip comfortable and free of problems. The part in the volunteer experience that really resonated with me was the portion where we stopped to relax on our canoes and let the waves slowly take us to the Deering. It was a moment of pure bliss and quietness, even though one of my classmates in my canoe was playing soft music. It allowed for reflection and time to process what just happened and how small experiences like that move our society into the right direction. I’m beyond thankful for this trip and I most definitely do it again.