By Steven Courtney
Rain was not going to keep Gabriela Iniquez away from her mission on this wet Saturday morning.
Gabriela and a team of her fellow AuPairCare au pairs from around the world living for a year in Walnut Creek were determined to do their part to make their temporary community better than they found it.
International au pairs, their American host families and community members from Walnut Creek (and all around the Bay Area) spent their Saturday morning pitching in on a community service project in honor of California Coastal Cleanup Day.
The Walnut Creek au pair group, all from different countries and cultures, helped remove trash and recyclables from the Berkeley Marina.
Approximately 17 tons of trash and recyclables were collected in Berkeley last year during this one day effort and Gabriela was determined to do her part to exceed that number this year.
“I’ve been living in Walnut Creek for almost two years and I have fallen in love with the town and the people,” said Gabriela, who is from Spain. “Litter and caring for the environment is an international concern, so I thought this was a great way to do my part to make the world a better place. A cleaner place. I feel so grateful for all the nice people I have met in Walnut Creek. It’s nice to give back.”
The California Coastal Cleanup Day is an annual beach and inland waterway cleanup sponsored by the California Coastal Commission. According to the commission, 320 tons of trash and recyclables were collected statewide. It is the state's largest volunteer event, with nearly 60,000 Californians participating in Saturday’s event.
Gabriela and her fellow au pairs participated last year in California Coastal Cleanup Day as part of AuPairCare’s Better Than You Found It event.
“I think the California Coastal Cleanup day is a fun and inspiring experience for everyone involved,” says Steven Courtney, regional manager in California for AuPairCare, a national au pair agency headquartered in San Francisco that provides American host families with au pairs from around the world who provide live-in childcare. “This is the second year our au pairs have participated and there was so much excitement heading into the event this year. The au pairs understand the mission of California Coastal Cleanup Day, but also see it as a way to give back to their local host community. We call it Better Than You Found It because it gives the au pairs the opportunity to improve their local host community. A lesson we hope they take home with them to their home countries.”
Gabriela, in the United States on the au pair program for two years, spends her days caring for her American host children and her evenings in school at Diablo Valley College and enjoying the Walnut Creek lifestyle.
“When I say I love it here, it’s true,” Gabriela shares. “The shopping, restaurants, and weather are the best!”
Gabriela, a native of Madrid, Spain, shares, “If I could not return to Spain and had to find a new place to live, it would be Walnut Creek.”
Gabriela will leave her Walnut Creek host family in February to return to Spain and begin college.
“It will be hard to say goodbye to my host family, but I know we will keep in touch forever. And I am taking with me so much more than I came with thanks to my experience here.”
And leaving it better than she found it.
For information about AuPairCare or the au pair program, visit www.aupaircare.com