A lot, if that person is Casi Callaway. But not as much as 160,000 committed civic leaders.
When the Gulf oil spill hit, Casi Callaway was already putting her many skills – including Junior League leadership training – to bear on her job as Executive Director of Mobile Baykeeper, a volunteer organization devoted to the environmental protection of Mobile Bay in Alabama.
Where the Mobile River meets the Mobile Bay, which drains the fourth largest watershed in the U.S., is more accurately described as a delta than as a river, with more than 250 separate waterways – rivers, bays, creeks, bayous, lakes, cutoffs, branches, and sloughs – feeding into the Bay.
And now oil from the spill is beginning to hit those waterways, despite mammoth efforts by the U.S. government and BP to stop it.
What can we do, as League members?
Getting in a car or on a plane to go to Mobile won’t really help, at least for now. Thousands of volunteers are streaming in daily, often without anything to do once they get there. Under Casi’s direction, Mobile Baykeeper is training local volunteers with knowledge of area beaches and waterways to act as damage spotters. And Casi’s six-person staff is already being supported by volunteers from the Junior League of Mobile, where Casi is a member and former Training Chair.
Here’s what you can do – and do now. First, a wide range of Gulf nonprofits, including Mobile Baykeeper, are accepting donations. As Casi, who runs an organization with a budget of $400,000 says, if every single Junior League sent even $10 today, it would accomplish a lot – including supplying her trained volunteers with GPS units so they can provide clean-up teams from BP with precise information on damage from the spill.
Environmental activism has been an important focus of the Junior Leagues for decades. And as with so much of what the Leagues do every day, it all starts with the power of one.
“Mobile Baykeeper is a volunteer organization that, in 14 years, has grown to some 4,000 members,” she says. “Its mission reflects the fact that people are about Mobile Bay and its natural beauty; but it exists because volunteers gave their time, energy and determination to make a difference.”
So here’s to Casi Callaway, as she mobilizes volunteers, deals with a swarm of government agencies, takes on BP and tries to make time for her family in the midst of an environmental disaster that, for Casi and everyone else living around Mobile Bay, has just hit home.