By Linda Wang
On my flight from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco by way of Atlanta, I found myself sitting next to a young woman who I learned was serving in the military. Only 23 years old, she had served in the U.S. Army for the past five years and had been deployed to Iraq twice. She was on her way to visit her family in New Orleans. Their home was destroyed last year by Hurricane Katrina.
For the next hour and a half, we talked about her experiences in Iraq and her struggles to help her family rebuild their life in New Orleans. She described simple pleasures such as seeing jazz ensembles performing again in the French Quarter and eating beignets again at the famous Café du Monde. She had so much optimism that life was getting better for her and her family.
At this American Chemical Society national meeting in San Francisco, one of the overarching themes is recovery from and prevention of natural disasters. This year marks not only the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina but also the 100th anniversary of San Francisco’s great earthquake and fire.
In the spirit of recovery and giving back to the community, about 150 members of ACS, along with members of the ACS board of directors, took to the streets of San Francisco on Saturday as part of the “Chemists in the Community: Outreach in San Francisco” volunteer event. We cleaned animal cages and renovated exhibits at the San Francisco Zoo, cleared brush and reintroduced native plants to nearby Heron’s Head Park, boxed donated groceries at the San Francisco Food Bank, and planted seedlings at the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Many volunteers I spoke with echoed the sentiment that chemistry and the community are inseparable and that this activity was their way of giving back to the community.
What a heartwarming way to kick off the national meeting!
Here are some photos from Saturday’s activities.
Photos by Linda Wang
NATURE LOVER President Ann Nalley helps reintroduce native plants to Heron’s Head Park.
ASSEMBLY LINE Members of ACS box food at the San Francisco Food Bank.