Michael Henderson, a Southern California Edison (SCE) lineman in Orange County, had the best of both worlds at an Earth Day volunteer event at Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach.

It was a chance to spend some time with his 13-year-old daughter at the beach, while showing her how rewarding volunteer work can be.

“I thought it would be good to have a little field trip to the beach,” he said. “Crystal Cove is kind of in our neighborhood.”

The two volunteered to paint metal storage sheds at the park’s maintenance yard. They made a good team. Henderson could easily reach the upper parts of the shed with his paint roller while the shorter Savanna used a paint brush on the lower levels.

Painting was just one of a dozen tasks more than 65 Edison International employees performed at three local state parks as part of the California State Park Foundation’s 17th Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup.

Earth Day began in 1970 and is widely viewed as the birth of the environmental movement. Every year, events are held to emphasize the importance of being good stewards of the environment.

Edison International, parent company of SCE, has sponsored Earth Day projects since 2006. This year, the company contributed $30,000 to the California State Park Foundation for Earth Day projects at Crystal Cove, Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook and Chino Hills State Park.

Erika Pringsheim-Moore, director of the Earth Day Program for the California State Parks Foundation, said 27 state parks throughout California had projects.

“It really makes a difference when the parks have these extra hands,” she said, noting the state has a $1.3 billion backlog in park maintenance.

At Crystal Cove, about 30 SCE workers — many with their families — were among the 103 people who volunteered. Their hard work included:

  • Planting 500 new cactus plants.
  • Removing 20 bags of trash.
  • Removing 10 bags of debris from the beach to be recycled.
  • Filling one dumpster with concrete, pipes and other debris.
  • Power washing all of the park’s entry signs.
  • Building a new pen for two endangered desert tortoises nicknamed Fat and Lazy.

Maya Alunkal, a senior analyst in customer service for SCE in Rosemead, found herself power washing monument signs.

“I saw it as an opportunity,” Alunkal said.  “I have an environmental background and it’s good to get involved.”

Sarah Yusuf, an SCE Orange region analyst, and her sister, Farah Admani, joined the Crystal Cove curb-painting team. Their job was to paint the red curbs throughout the park.

“When we were done painting, we helped with the beach cleanup,” Yusuf said. “It was truly a rewarding experience.”

Jenelle Bader, an SCE region manager in Orange County, said the company and its workers see themselves as part of their communities.

“We believe the cities we live in are the ones where we provide service,” she said. “This is an opportunity for us to give back.”