7801 Deercreek Club Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32256
More than 300 REALTORS®, friends, family, and members of the public gathered at eight different clean-up sites along the St. Johns River to take part in NEFAR’s Third Annual Clean-up Northeast Florida Waterways event on July 8. This year’s event invited volunteers from the community to work alongside members of NEFAR to rid several tons of garbage and litter from the shoreline of the St. Johns River between Mayport and Palatka. In all, more than 3,300 pounds of trash and debris was collected and disposed of.
The event was NEFAR’ s collective contribution to Florida Realtors’ month-long Clean-up Florida’s Waterways initiative, which encourages members of the Florida REALTOR® community to clean up lakes, beaches, rivers, creeks, and streams throughout the Sunshine state during the month of July.
Participants in the clean-up effort worked hard to rid the region’s waterways of the debris, including several tires, an automobile bumper, a baby doll, multiple sleeping bags, tarps, old buoys, Styrofoam cups, and water bottles that were pulled from the shores of the St. Johns River. JDog Junk Removal & Hauling collected the trash from all the clean-up sites.
Clean-up organizers are also in the process of applying for permits to remove a derelict sailboat from the river near the Lions Club Boat ramp, said Mark Feagle, a NEFAR member who also serves as president of the Northeast Florida Coastal Conservation Association. “If it can be removed, we will have met our goal of removing 10 tons of trash from the St. Johns River in Northeast Florida,” he said.
More than 150 volunteers celebrated their hard work during two four-hour after-parties hosted by the NEFAR Community Affairs Task Force at the NEFAR Resource Center on Deercreek Club Road in Jacksonville and at the Lighthouse Grill and Captains Cove Bar at the Crystal Cove Marina in Palatka.
During the afterparty at NEFAR, $270 was raised from drawings from prizes donated by the Coastal Conservation Association. Extra money raised from the event went to NEFAR’s Charitable Foundation and was earmarked for NEFAR’s Oyster Bar, a University of North Florida river restoration project done in conjunction with the Coastal Conservation Association.
“REALTORS are committed to the enhancement of the community,” said 2023 NEFAR President Diana Galavis. “NEFAR was proud to host another successful waterway clean up in July. More than 300 REALTORS®, business owners, and residents across Northeast assisted in picking up trash from the St. Johns River. This one-day event brought a better awareness our biggest asset, the mighty St. Johns, as well as the importance of clean waterways in our region,” she continued. “Cleaning the waterways should be an on-going effort all year long, and we encourage everyone in the community to continue this effort every day.”
REALTOR®-led clean-up crews tackled the trash pick-up at eight river-front locations, as well as on Goat Island, and near the Riverside Arts Market. Included among the clean-up sites were the Wayne Stevens Boat Ramp/Ortega; Sidney J. Gefen Riverwalk Park/Brooklyn; Knights Boat Ramp & Marina/Black Creek; Michael B. Scanlon Boat Ramp in Mayport; Crystal Cove Marina and RV Resort/Palatka; The Bait Shack at Vilano Causeway/St. Augustine; and the Lion’s Club Boat Ramp/Arlington.
More than 50 REALTORS and their friends met at Lions’ Club Boat Ramp in Arlington aboard nine individual private boats to reach the uninhabited shores of Goat Island in the middle of the St. Johns River.
Meanwhile, three pontoon boats filled with more than 30 REALTORS® left Goodby’s Creek and headed to the Riverside Arts Market to clean up the shoreline. Aboard one of the three boats in the pontoon fleet were 2023 Florida Realtors® President Mike McGraw and his wife, Beth; Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association Past President Jeff Fagan and his wife, Vicki; and 2023 NEFAR President Diana Galavis and NEFAR COO Celeta McClamma. The pontoon boat was captained by NEFAR CEO William Glenn East.
In Putnam County, REALTORS® joined forces with the Palatka High School Fishing team as well as members of the public who readily volunteered to make their portion of the river more beautiful.
Sponsoring the event were realMLS; Building Wealth Real Estate LLC; Watson Realty Corporation, Watson Mortgage Company, Glenn East on behalf of St. Johns Bass Anglers; Watson Title Services of Northeast Florida, Inc.; Golden Dog Title & Trust; JDog Junk Removal & Hauling; Jax Boat Rentals; and Current Problems.
Clean-up site sponsors included Chad Green of LCR Services; Kim Barnes of South Street Bank and Mortgage; Kim Knapp of Coldwell Banker Vanguard; Pro-Spect Inspection Service; Coldwell Banker Ben Bates; Umortgage/Andrew Cady and Kayla Tyer; Edd Cobb of Superior Inspections; Mario Gonzalez of Navy to Navy Homes; Ryan Fagan of Prime Car Wash; Southwest Council; Women’s Council of REALTORS®, and Julia Moore of Backyard Bartenders.
This year’s event was considerably larger in scope and better attended than last year’s when approximately 200 NEFAR members took part, collecting more than 2,000 pounds of trash.
“This was the largest turnout we’ve ever had,” said NEFAR member Mark Feagle, who helped organize the event for both NEFAR and Florida Realtors. “It is our hope that we can expand it even further next year.”
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