I love a lot of things about Galveston. These magic winter days when the rest of the country is freezing while our beaches are full of people are a reminder of how good we have it in our little corner of the planet. This year has been especially beautiful.
For us, this is a time of renewal. We rebuild towers, set signs, revise policies and work on longer-term projects — all the things we can’t do while we’re going full steam during the season. We are briefly given time to breathe and reflect on the things we’re thankful for. Here is my list in no particular order:
• Living and working in Galveston: Where else can you get almost anywhere within 20 minutes, not have to make dinner or movie reservations, and have to work to not see the beach at least a couple of times a day? And “G-Town” is still big enough to get whatever you need right on the island. And you can’t beat the people.
• The city and the Park Board of Trustees: I always feel gratitude when I work with other lifeguarding groups in Texas, the Great Lakes, and the East and West coasts. The park board and the city of Galveston have provided a way for the Beach Patrol, as the official lifeguard group for the city, to use hotel tax revenue for the bulk of our operational expenses. Very few lifeguard services around the country and world operate this way, and it’s really benefited our beach visitors. In the time since I started, we moved from 17 employees and one full-time person to 14 full-time people and a staff size of well over 110 during the height of the season. It’s never enough, but we’re able to make around 200,000 preventative actions a year, keeping over 7 million people away from dangers that could hurt or even kill them. We deeply appreciate being given the tools to do this good work.
• Jesse Tree Survivor Support Network volunteers: Despite all our efforts and help from other groups, there are inevitably times when people slip through the safety net and die in our waters. The network is always available with support for the families in the form of translators, counselors or merely someone who listens. They bring food and shelter, find hotel rooms, work with consulates to contact family and are a link to other public safety groups.
• Wave Watchers: What can you say about people who volunteer their time to be trained and then to patrol our beaches during times or in areas we don’t cover? This dedicated support group has quickly become indispensable in our world.
• Galveston Marine Response: The spirit of cooperation between fire, police, EMS and lifeguards here on the island is incomparable to anywhere else, but nowhere is it more evident than how we respond to water emergencies.
• Beach Patrol staff: Their dedication, caring and energy are a continual source of awe and renewal for me. I have no words to express my gratitude.