“You have to take the initiative for yourself — not wait for someone else to come up and ask if you want to do something.”
15-year-old Sasha Youn never needed textbooks or teachers to sense the high stakes of climate change.
“Ever since she was a little kid, Sasha always loved the ocean and the waterways – the whole ecosystem. We would walk Ocean or Stinson Beach, and she always had such a heart for the animals there.”
Juliana Park couldn’t be prouder of her daughter, but she admits: Sasha’s passion for the outdoors came as quite the surprise. “I never, honestly, thought about trying to protect the environment when I was growing up. But seeing how much Sasha cared made me ask: ‘what kind of world am I leaving for her, for her kids someday?’”
So, they started shaping that world for the better — when Sasha was just a 5th grader. They searched online for Bay Area environmental non-profits and Save The Bay popped up. After reading about our public restoration events, Sasha was excited to make a difference out in the wetlands.
“Being in nature, not surrounded by a bunch of cars or noisy cities, gives me peace. I wanted to volunteer with Save The Bay to help solve pollution and climate change, to help protect our Bay because it’s where we live.”
The first time they volunteered by the shoreline, Juliana was moved “to see people ages five to 80 all doing meaningful work. It felt like, ‘wow, no matter what age or socioeconomic background you are, you can experience and do something good for our Bay.’”
The more Juliana and Sasha volunteered in the wetlands, the more they worked to reduce pollution from home as well. “We compost, we’re very mindful of trash, and we try not to buy things we don’t need because it’ll go into landfill.”
By the time Sasha took a class on Philanthropy at The Bentley School, she knew exactly which organization she wanted to support. “Save The Bay puts lots of petitions and laws in action, and because it’s a non-profit, we have to donate to them. Otherwise, they can’t do all the things they’re doing to help the Bay stay healthy.”
Inspired by Sasha’s determination, Juliana took action, too. After attending our art gallery fundraiser and Catamaran Sail, Juliana opened up her home this Women’s History Month to honor Save The Bay’s courageous women founders. “It was great for Sasha and me to hear how they weren’t scientists or engineers, they just had the heart to keep the Bay clean.”
In spreading the word about our work, Juliana sends a message about gratitude. “On a personal level, I feel sharing Save The Bay with others, showing that we have something so beautiful here, our Bay – whatever we do to protect it is enough. It’s a start!”
This summer, Sasha took a significant step in that direction, securing her very first internship as a Development Fellow with Save The Bay. She says she enjoyed the mix of restoration fieldwork and outreach projects – plus the opportunity to learn even more about our founders.
“Knowing three women founded Save The Bay inspired me to take further steps toward environmental activism, because they showed if you’re passionate enough about something, you can do anything, no matter who you are.”
***Save The Bay is deeply grateful for all that Juliana and Sasha do to protect our beautiful Bay. Ahead of our big Bay Day celebration, we are proud to present these Bay Heroes with a special Courageous Women Award at this year’s Catamaran Sail – September 29th.