FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Aug. 23, 2022) -- More than a dozen Fort Drum community members spent part of their afternoon Aug. 19 to help clear trash and debris along the Veterans’ Memorial Riverwalk in Watertown.
The project was organized by the Fort Drum Soldier and Family Readiness Division. Dani Reed, Fort Drum Army Volunteer Corps program manager, said that the project was inspired by the City of Watertown’s Adopt-A-Spot program that encourages people to take an active role in their community through beautification efforts.
“We were thinking of doing a lot more group activities for volunteers as a way of building teamwork and having a positive presence in the community,” she said. “I saw on the news that there was a new Adopt-A-Spot program in Watertown, and we started thinking of places where we could help.”
Reed said that cleaning up a site that honors veterans felt appropriate for the group of Fort Drum Soldiers and family members.
“It’s an opportunity to help the local community while taking care of our own,” she said. “This is a beautiful place, so let’s keep it beautiful.”
Veterans’ Memorial Riverwalk is located off the Black River, on Newell Street, and features a small pavilion and picnic tables, park benches and an observation deck.
Sgt. Nicholas Hall, an Army Volunteer Corps intern through the Army Career Skills Program, said that he has seen how volunteering has a positive effect on Soldiers.
“I’ve been living in the barracks for three years and I’ve consistently seen Soldiers who stay inside and never go out in the community and do things,” he said. “From my perspective with the Army Volunteer Corps, there are so many opportunities to become involved in the community. At the end of the day, my mission is to let Soldiers know they can make a difference and make meaningful change, beyond what they do for the Army.”
Hall said that it has been easier to find new Soldiers who are willing to sign up for altruistic endeavors, but he also understands that not everyone is eager to freely give up their time.
“People deserve to relax and to enjoy their free time,” he said. “I’m prior infantry and I know that time is important for Soldiers. But when you think about what is happening here today, you’re at this beautiful place in the community, meeting people and engaging with them – that’s rewarding in itself. Volunteering is not a burden, it’s a positive outlet.”