DRC bids farewell to Volunteer Maryland coordinator
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 10:53

Murray ended 11-month term last week

by Nicole Rodman

    Since last October, the Dundalk Renaissance Corporation’s (DRC) Jacqueline Murray has spent her days working to beautify Dundalk.
    Now, with her 11-month tenure having ended on Aug. 9, Murray is reflecting on the community she has served for nearly a year.
    A Maryland native, Murray had recently graduated from a Georgia university when she was hired as the DRC’s Volunteer Maryland Coordinator last year.
    The temporary position was sponsored by Americorps, a federal service-based organization, and the Chesapeake Bay Trust, a non-profit environmental group.
    During her time at the DRC, Murray focused her efforts on cleaning up the community and its waterways.
    One way Murray worked to clean up the community was by organizing multiple trash pick-up events.
    According to Murray, her efforts in cleaning up litter were both the most fulfilling and most challenging aspects of her job with the DRC.
    “My favorite part was picking up trash.  I found it very satisfying,” she said, adding, “The most challenging part was seeing it quickly return.”
    In addition to her litter eradication efforts, Murray also worked to improve water quality in the area.
    She developed a two-part program designed to monitor water quality while encouraging local participation in conservation efforts.
    According to Murray, who spoke with The Eagle last week, the first part of her water quality monitoring program involved “regular testing of the oxygen, pH, nutrients and clarity” of local waterways.
   

The second part, she said, involved “volunteer participation to monitor the storm drains, outfall pipes and streets for pollutants that could wash into Bear Creek.”
    As part of the water quality program, Murray recruited more than 150 volunteers from across Dundalk to help her stencil storm drains with a message reading “Only Rain Down the Drain.”
    By emblazoning this motto on area storm drains, Murray hoped to educate residents about the fact that trash thrown on the ground could easily end up polluting local waterways.
    Another way in which Murray has worked to monitor waterway pollution is by recruiting volunteers to test the discharge that runs from outfall drains during dry weather.
    During rainy weather, water runs into hundreds of storm drains across the area and, eventually, discharges into local waterways through about 15 different outfall drains.
    If liquid is running out of the outfall drains during dry weather, it means that the liquid is likely something other than water — a potential pollutant.
    In the past year, Murray has recruited and trained volunteers to observe and test runoff at three area outfall drains.
    When pollutants are found discharging from outfall drains, volunteers inform the county of their findings.
    Though Murray has said goodbye to her post at DRC, she hopes that the outfall monitoring program will continue.
    “It’s hard to leave all of this behind not knowing what’s going to come of it,” she said, noting, “I trust that it will continue.”
    According to Murray, local citizens have reacted positively to her efforts to bring attention to local waterway health.
    “Residents have been very receptive to the cause,” she said. “They agree that Bear Creek has changed dramatically over the past half century, and I’ve heard a lot of people express concern.”
    Encouraging local residents to take part in improving the environmental health of the community has been a hallmark of Murray’s time with the DRC.
    “DRC’s greening programs are designed to improve water quality, although these rely on community participation to succeed,” Murray explained, adding, “I encourage people to get involved and to attend our events so that we can double our impact by working together.”
    Though she has finished her term with the DRC, Murray plans to maintain ties and continue to volunteer in the Dundalk community.
    Using what she has learned during her time with the DRC, Murray will continue working to help communities improve their environment.
    “I will continue networking with organizations focused on green housing renovation, watershed restoration and urban agriculture in the hope of establishing a coalition to reduce living costs and improve environmental health,” Murray noted.
    As she explained, she is currently looking for another position, ideally one that will allow her to work on watershed health and environmental issues.
    DRC staff members say they are sad to see Murray’s time in the community come to an end.
    “Jacqueline will be sorely missed by the DRC — she has recruited so many new volunteers for our greening work, which is about helping the watershed but also about rebuilding our community’s image of itself and the image of Dundalk we project to prospective residents,” DRC Executive Director Amy Menzer told The Eagle. “We are proud of her work and of the role our volunteers play in building a cleaner, greener Dundalk for everyone.”
    Murray said she will miss working with the community that she has come to know well over the past 11 months.
    “Dundalk is a strong community, very interconnected, and privileged with great waterfront parks. The people are kind, creative and generous,” she explained. “It is hard to leave unfinished work, but I’ve enjoyed getting to know the community and I will look back with joy.”