Community Service Project

Community Service Project
Ted K. Bilich (CT ’84)

Approximately 20 participants in the Truman Scholar Association’s 2009
National Conference scoured the grass of Hains Point in East Potomac Park in
southeast Washington D.C., in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 21st,
cleaning up trash as part of a service day associated with the conference.

Hains Point is located near the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia
Rivers, and is defined by the Potomac on one side and the Washington Channel
(which receives outflow from the Tidal Basin) on the other. It is a popular park
with locals who come to fish, run, bike, and enjoy the view across the rivers to
Northern Virginia and Maryland. Because of its location and popularity, the
park gets more than its fair share of trash – both from overflow of the rivers
and Tidal Basin at high tides and from careless visitors.

The Truman Scholars National Conference Steering Committee arranged to
have Truman volunteers assist the National Park Service in a two-hour clean-up
project. The participants ranged from the original Truman class of 1977 through
the current class of 2009, from as far away as Texas and New Mexico, and the
friendly conversation covered a wide variety of topics while people pitched in,
working together in informal groups. The group also included at least one
“future Truman Scholar” – my son Vidal, a five-year-old who visits the park
regularly, and who thoroughly enjoyed picking through trash that he’s usually
dissuaded from even approaching. I got a chance to connect with classmate Jim
Slaughter (NC ‘84), and we compared notes about our community and political
involvement. My son and I, moreover, were excited to meet and talk to Jeff
McLean (WI ’03), who is learning to fly F/A-18 fighter aircraft for the Navy and
will soon be heading out on an aircraft carrier. Needless to say, fighter
aircraft dominated my morning’s conversation.

Although the weather threatened the entire time, and although most
participating scholars did not have gloves to protect themselves from trash
that ranged from mundane to unmentionable, the team filled at least ten trash
bags that morning. By the end of the event, the grass in the team’s work area
was noticeably tidier, participants knew that they were leaving Washington
cleaner than when they arrived, and all involved had proven once again that Truman
scholars are always willing to get their hands dirty.

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