Suffolk joins Clean the Bay Day

Published 10:50 pm Wednesday, June 1, 2011

As soon as North Suffolk resident Mekenzie Wilson heard about this Saturday’s Clean the Bay Day in her eighth-grade science class, she knew it was something she wanted to do, not only to gain extra credit but also to make an impact in the community.

Mekenzie is an avid volunteer who keeps herself busy by participating in projects with her church, school and other organizations.

But Mekenzie and her parents, Renee and Ken, didn’t realize how close to home Clean the Bay would hit until Renee found out the city was hosting a site at Sleepy Hole Park.

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“We go to Sleepy Hole Park frequently,” Renee said. “We’ve seen what needs to be cleaned up down there.”

So the mother and daughter signed up to be a part of a local effort to clean the area’s waterways and surrounding areas as part of Clean the Bay Day, a larger scale event coordinated by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Suffolk litter control coordinator Hattie Lester said the day is an opportunity for everyone to be proactive about helping the environment and keeping the city clean.

“It’s our responsibility as citizens to keep the community we live in clean,” she said.

Suffolk residents can participate in Clean the Bay events 9 a.m. to noon in three locations: Sleepy Hole Park, Bennett’s Creek Park and Pughsville Park.

Suffolk has participated in Clean the Bay Day since 2005, and Lester said the city’s efforts are essential in the bigger picture.

“Suffolk plays an important part in the bigger clean up,” she said. “If we can do anything to pick (litter) up before it gets (to the bay), we are ultimately taking strides in keeping the bay clean.”

In addition to the three park sites, the Nansemond River Preservation Alliance also will host a Clean the Bay Day event on a private shoreline on Chuckatuck Creek.

Elizabeth Taraski, executive director of NRPA, said the alliance wants to motivate more citizens to participate in the event.

“We’re getting more families involved, especially families with small children,” she said. “We’re inspiring more people to be environmental stewards, starting with small children to adults.”

Because the alliance members will be on a private shoreline, Taraski said anyone who is interested in joining the effort should call the alliance’s office at 745-7447 to learn more.

Clean the Bay is an extension of a citywide clean up that took place May 14, but it is something the city hopes people will always consider, Lester said.

“A clean community results in a safer community,” she said. “It sets a precedent.”

She said she hopes people realize their behaviors can influence other community members to keep the city clean.

Each clean-up site will have two captains to facilitate the day’s activities, and the city will provide bottled water, snacks, bug repellent and sunscreen for all the volunteers.

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Hattie Lester at 514-7604 or email her at

For more information on the Clean the Bay event, visit and click the Clean the Bay link.