More than sixty Beacon employees volunteered at Fort Adams on Friday, May 21 for a clean up day. Volunteers arrived and split into two groups; one half of the employees were assigned to cleaning the historic officer quarters inside the fort and the other half were charged with the task of collecting trash littering the ocean front property. The volunteer clean up day was part of Beacon's launch of our new vision and values, with a focus on impacting our community.
Beacon partnered with Clean Ocean Access, a coastal inspired organization that is cultivating friendships within the community, with a unified desire of working together, taking good care of the environment, and living healthy lives. Clean Ocean Access is a nonprofit focused on one important goal, to eliminate marine debris, improve coastal water quality, and protect and preserve shoreline access. Over the past year while dealing with the world health crisis, there has been a surge or single use plastics. Millions of disposable masks, food containers, and plastic water bottles are everywhere. At Beacon, we are dedicated to supporting the Rhode Island community and this need provided an opportunity for us to volunteer and make an impact.
Fort Adams in Newport was built between 1824 and 1857 and is the United States' most complex coastal fortification with extensive land and sea defenses. Active through WWII, at the start of the Civil War it housed the underclassmen of the U.S Naval Academy, that had been evacuated from Annapolis, Maryland. This National Historia Landmark provides a reminder to us of all the brave Americans that fought to protect our country and the shores of the Narraganset Bay in Rhode Island.
Military historian Theodore L. Gatchel said, “The forces of nature that gave the settlers of Rhode Island one of the finest natural harbors in the world, Narragansett Bay, also presented them with a military challenge." Indeed, they built an impressive fortress with stone walls, iron gates, and historic chambers to protect our harbor. Not only is it an important landmark celebrating the storied history of our country, it is a beautiful place that hosts weddings and large scale events like the Newport Jazz and Newport Folk Festivals drawing thousands of visitors.
At Beacon, we have been protecting this fortress and the Fort Adams Trust for eight years with workers' compensation insurance coverage but our commitment to Fort Adams as our policyholder goes beyond their insurance policy. We understand the unique needs and challenges of Rhode Island businesses and organizations like Fort Adams because we've been doing it for nearly 30 years. We care about Rhode Islanders, because we call Rhode Island our home, and we're committed to empowering businesses to succeed by caring for the safety, well-being and security of their employees.
As our employees scoured the property with trash grabbers and reusable bags, collecting everything from plastic water bottles to cigarette butts, it was clear that all of us were united in our commitment to this beautiful place. As we swept and scrubbed the historic officer's chambers and unrestored rooms, there was a sense of joy and camaraderie. After all, our employees had been working from home for over a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and for most, volunteering was a wonderful reunion.
By noon, employees gathered back at the Fort Adams visitor center where we had started the day to reflect about the environment, our community, and to combine all our trash collections for a weigh in. Remarkably, Beacon employees collected over 150 lbs of trash from the Fort Adams shoreline, leaving this historic landmark considerably cleaner after the morning's work. Members of the Clean Ocean Access team debriefed with employee groups to discuss their reactions and observations. At first glance, many said that the park seemed quite clean, but after searching through the rocky shoreline, they found plastic bottles, spoons, straws, glass, cigarette butts, glass, bottle caps, string, wire, and a host of wrappers and other plastic items. It was noted that facemasks and other single use plastics that were discarded during the pandemic months contributed to the ocean pollution problem. We all agreed... we can do better.
For more information about the work of Clean Ocean Access and to get involved, visit https://www.cleanoceanaccess.org.
To learn about events and programs at the Fort Adams and the Fort Adams Trust, visit https://fortadams.org.