Meet Gabriel and Wendy Jones- founders of Sayulita’s “Neighborhood Clean-Up Crew”. Gabe is originally from Canada, born in Winnipeg Manitoba and raised in Saskatoon Saskatchewan. According to Gabe, “these are two of the friendliest, but also coldest winter cities in Canada. I always preferred summers, and I dreamed of living by the ocean.” Gabe realized that dream when he moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, and met his wife Wendy, who was born and raised in Vancouver. Gabe and Wendy came to Sayulita for the first time on their first wedding anniversary, and immediately fell in love with it. A few years later, they decided to take a break from their busy city lives and move to Sayulita for one year. “Soon after we arrived we realized that we didn’t want to limit ourselves to one year.” As they did, they started working on a plan that would allow them to stay in Sayulita longer. Gabe and Wendy are now seven years in to their Mexican adventure of living in Sayulita, and they love it more each day. “The sense of community, the warmth of the local Sayuleros, and the quality of the people that have chosen Sayulita to be their home is the biggest reason why we love it here.”
Gabe and Wendy do a lot and give a lot of their time in helping our community, but one of the most well-known efforts they are involved in is their work in organizing and creating Sayulita’s “Neighborhood Clean-Up Crew” which helps to bring together local volunteers in the community to do neighborhood or beach clean-ups.
Gabe says: “When I first moved here I was inspired by how much volunteering was going on. We do a lot of animal rescue work with Sayulitanimals and enjoy fundraising for Costa Verde International school's scholarship program, but I was also aware that Sayulita needed help dealing with litter on our streets and beaches. At the time, Tracey from ChocoBanana was leading clean-ups, which we attended, and she inspired me. When she stopped organizing the clean-ups, I picked up the torch and have been doing it for the last 4 or 5 years. The goal of the group is simple: to bring people from the community together to tackle street and beach clean-ups, and to inspire people to keep the town cleaner and greener.”
It is clear that Gabe and Wendy’s efforts are making a positive impact on our community and inspiring others to follow suit in order to come together for a good cause. “Sayulita is made up of an awesomely diverse gathering of people from around the world, and there are always new people arriving. Bringing these people together and providing them with an opportunity to not only improve our town, but get out and meet fellow Sayuleros is a great bonus. Most of our best friends in town have been met through volunteering. My favorite moments at cleanups are when local Mexican kids join in. It is awesome to see the next generation taking an active role in helping keep the town clean, and it is great to see a shift in how people are thinking about garbage and the environment.”
Feeling inspired? Anyone can become a member of the Sayulita “Neighborhood Clean-up Crew”! The Facebook group is the best platform to go to for information on clean-ups, and anyone can use this platform to organize a clean-up of their own. “I’d love some help if anyone is out there reading this who wants to help organize a clean-up once a month. I would do anything I could to help support that. For example, if we had 4 leaders, each of whom could do one day per month, then we could have a clean-up every week!”
Thanks to Gabriel and Wendy and the volunteer work that they do through their clean-up crew, they are helping the community of Sayulita to be a better, more connected, clean, and loving place. They are, in essence, what being part of a Pueblo Magico is all about.
Please join the next neighborhood/beach clean up, organized by Gabe, this Saturday, October 13th at 10:00 a.m. in front of Don Pedro's Restaurant.
Written By: Aanya Sheikh-Taheri