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Towne Salute: Beverly & Eric

Aug 01, 2018 12:00AM

By Caley Breese

When Beverly and Eric DePietropaolo retired two years ago, they weren’t interested in taking a break. One day, when Beverly was reading the newspaper, she came across an advertisement from Chesapeake Bay Foundation asking for volunteers to help with oysters. After making a quick phone call, the husband and wife team found their next adventure. 

Beverly grew up in Arlington, Virginia and worked as a project manager for the software company Oracle, while Eric was born and raised in Philadelphia, and worked for Unisys in manufacturing before moving over to Honeywell. The two have been living in Annapolis since 2000, and have been volunteering with Chesapeake Bay Foundation for the past two years, assisting with their oyster restoration program.

“The big effort is really to get oysters back into the bay and that’s because oysters are one of the main ways that the bay gets cleaned,” Beverly explains. “To get them back into the bay, they really need to build up the oyster reefs, and reclaiming the shells is one of the best ways to do that.” 

Every other week, Beverly and Eric take a trip to Frederick to pick up the saved oyster shells from the back alleys of four different restaurants and bring them to the Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side. They also visit two places on Ritchie Highway in Severna Park, the Irish restaurant Brian Boru, as well as Starbucks to gather oyster shells. (Community members are encouraged to drop off their empty oyster shells at this Starbucks location to help the Chesapeake Bay Foundation).

“We’re out there looking for oyster shells with a shovel, digging oysters out of a trashcan,” Eric says. “It’s pretty interesting.” 

“A lot of credit goes to the restaurants for saving the oyster shells,” Beverly adds.

According to the couple, every time they make the trek to retrieve the shells, they usually acquire about 45 bushels. 

Beverly and Eric not only help Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the bay by reclaiming the old oyster shells from restaurants, but they are also “oyster gardeners” and grow baby oysters on their dock. They have also taken Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s VoiCeS (Volunteers as Chesapeake Stewards) program, a rigorous five- to eight-week course that teaches local volunteers ways they can help restore the bay and the impact they can make by volunteering in their community.  

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is headquartered in Annapolis, with offices in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and D.C. The organization’s motto is “Save the Bay” with a mission to do just that by advocating for the environment through public education, hands-on projects, and litigation to enforce laws that protect the bay and its tributaries. 

When Beverly and Eric were looking to get involved with volunteering, their main concern was finding an organization they were both interested in and could do together, as well as roll up their sleeves and work out in the field—even if that meant digging through trashcans.

“It was really about wanting to get our hands dirty; wanting to actually do something to help, instead of sitting on the sidelines,” Beverly says.  

“We’ve been volunteers at other places, but [Chesapeake Bay Foundation] is the most hands-on,” Eric says. 

Making their community and environment a better place to live in was another inspiration for their excitement to volunteer with Chesapeake Bay Foundation. 

“A large part of our interest is because we live in Annapolis,” Beverly says. “We love the bay, we have a boat, kayaks, we love being on the water, Eric likes to fish, we love to eat seafood—there are just so many reasons to make sure it’s sustainable and preserved.”

Eric adds: “There are so many different things going on with the bay, and to watch it grow is really fun. It’s getting better and to be a part of that is a nice thing.”

For more information on Chesapeake Bay Foundation, visit cbf.org