On the day of the project, it rained. The weather condition was not stable with heavy showers and wind. The day before was not as bad, so I prepped the equipment with the intention to host the program the next day. However, I brought rain gear just in case.  This was my first volunteer program with a completely new group. Prior to this, I have never met them.

Be gone, stubborn mustard bush!

The group showed up 30 minutes early. I was going to cancel the program. However, when the option to cancel was presented, they were excited and enthusiastic to stick to the volunteer plan. The first part was trash collection. With only 45 minutes of it, everyone was drenched from head to toe. The second part was vegetation removal of posts and sidewalks. Cars were increasing in the area and making it less than ideal for volunteer work. Despite all of the challenges, the program went smoothly. We maintained over 780 feet of pathways and posts, collected 40 gallons of trash, and collected 350 gallons of vegetation. At the end, everyone was wet and cold, but no one complained. They agreed that it was a fun, exciting and fulfilling experience.


Posing with the Golden Gate Bridge

The group’s enthusiasm and the desire to volunteer surprised me. The work was boring, labor intensive, and underappreciated, but these young adults, the so called technology savvy “millennials, were willing to dedicate their Saturday morning, under heavy rain and strong wind, to give their 110% to the volunteer projects.

Through hosting this volunteer program, I became more familiar with the volunteer program development process – inviting the group, sending the confirmation, making sure the logistics were communicated clearly, evaluating the safety of the work environment, bringing everything that was necessary for the day, studying the history of the area for introduction, hosting the program, recording the accomplishment, and sending out thank you E-mails. Also, I become more appreciative of my supervisor and feel like I can better support her. Last but not least, I become more confident – confident in myself, to be able to host a successful volunteer program, to be able to keep everyone safe while not wasting people’s time, and to get projects completed.

Preparation was the key! Thank you rain gear!

My name is Yinsong Gao (Song) and I am a Centennial Volunteer Ambassador at Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA).