Greg Hawn’s home sits on the shore of Gray’s Lake, behind a row of neatly placed rocks.
“You ask me why I want to protect the lake. Just look. This is my backyard,” said Hawn, who has lived on the south side of Gray's Lake for 10 years.
Hawn talked with park district Executive Director Jeff Nehila, expressing how the lake has not been used enough and what could be done to protect it.
“I expressed my great fondness for the lake and said, ‘Perhaps it has been ignored,’ ” he said.
Speaking with the Lake Management Committee, he offered the idea to organize a community lake cleanup.
“We really do have a treasure here. There is a responsibility that comes with that, and we need to take care of it,” he said.
Hawn, along with the park district and merchants, invites residents to join the first Gray’s Lake cleanup, rain or shine, on Saturday.
The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. at Jones Island Park, where volunteers can pick up a free T-shirt, goodie bag and food before going to designated cleanup sites.
Hawn is making sure the cleanup is a community effort and has recruited many sponsors. Veolia Environmental Services will provide Dumpsters, and Piggly Wiggly, Rudy’s Mexican Grill and Mitch’s Chicago Style Grill have donated food for the work crews.
And to create a family-friendly event, Hawn said Allen Investment will donate treasure chests filled with gold coins that will be hidden around and in the lake. Participants later will be able to redeem the coins for prizes donated by local merchants. The chests also will be filled with prizes donated by participants such as State Bank of the Lakes, the park district and Big Kahuna Scuba.
After the cleanup, crew photos will be taken. Crews also can watch as 15 to 20 divers from Big Kahuna Scuba give a demonstration. Hawn said the divers are excited because they have not explored Gray’s Lake and hope this event may create a new partnership with the park district.
“They see future possibilities in conducting scuba classes for park district or summer events they may do at the lake,” he said. “They are very happy to have been invited into this.”
Nehila credits Hawn for using his passion and working with the park district to create what will be a successful community event.
“His efforts have clearly led to a bigger community involvement,” he said.
Following the idea that it takes a village to raise a child, it takes everybody who loves the lake to take care of it, Hawn said. The lake should have guardians, and this will serve as an annual rally where people can protect it.
“This is a true asset to this community and deserves attention that we’ll preserve it for future generations,” he said.