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Your informational guide

For questions, comments or concerns, please call 800-985-8232.


Marathon is apprx. 3 hours from MIA/FLL. We suggest the following means of transportation to get to/from the event:

Rental car facilities and shuttle services are available:

From MIA:

Rental Car Options Here

From FLL:

Rental Car Options Here

Shuttle Services from both MIA and FLL:

Keys Shuttle - Starting at around $146 Round Trip

Emerald Florida Keys (Best for Groups)

Ahoy Taxi (Best for Groups)

Marathon does have an airport where private charters are available from MIA. 

If you are interested in carpooling, check in on our Facebook group - search "Tourism Cares for South Florida" - and post your specifics for your fellow volunteers.

Our program kicks off at the Courtyard Marriott Marathon for our screening of Chasing Coral at 4:45pm. Transfer service will be available from host hotels at 4:15pm. This event requires sign-up in advance, so if you have not done so through your registration, please email geoff.dion@tourismcares.org for availability. Click here to see if you've signed up.

Immediately following the screening, volunteers are invited to register, network and take in the beautiful Florida weather on the lawn at Faro Blanco at Hyatt Place Marathon beginning at 6:30pm. Light hor d'oeuvres and beer and wine will be served. Shuttle service will be available from host hotels for volunteers not attending the screening at 6:15pm. 

For those who cannot make the reception on Thursday evening, registration will be available at the Hyatt Place on the yacht club lawn at 7:15am. 

Wednesday, May 9

4:30pm - 7pm: Special reception in Miami for early arrivals

Join us at The Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, (4020 Virginia Beach Dr, Miami, FL 33149) the site of our 2014 volunteer program, for an update on their progress and networking reception for volunteers and Miami locals. Advance sign-up required. Please email paula.brabants@tourismcares.org if you are interested in attending. Click here to see if you've signed up.

Thursday, May 10

4:15pm: Transfer from host hotels to Courtyard Marriott Marathon (2146 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL 33050) for opening event

4:45pm: Screening of Chasing Coral

Gain insight into the bigger picture of our work in Florida and the alarming rate in which our oceans are changing. Opening remarks provided by Coral Restoration Foundation. Soft drinks and popcorn served. 

6:15pm: Transfer from host hotels to Hyatt Place Marathon (for those who did not join us for the screening. Volunteers participating in the screening will walk from Courtyard Marriott to Hyatt Place)

6:30pm - 8pm: Opening Reception on the lawn at Faro Blanco, Hyatt Place Marathon (1996 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL 33050

Volunteers are invited to pick-up their registration materials, network with their teammates for the next day, hear from our sponsors and meet Tourism Cares' new CEO, Paula Vlamings - all while taking in the beautiful harbor views! Hor d'oeuvres, beer and wine served. 

Can't register on Thursday, or have a friend that can't be there? Registration will be available Friday morning at Hyatt Place. 

8pm: Return transfer to host hotels 

Still hungry? Check out this list of restaurants in Marathon. 

Friday, May 11

PLEASE remember to eat breakfast before you depart for the event! 

7am: Transfer service begins from hotels

7am: Holiday Inn

7:25am: Banana Bay

7:35am: SkipJack

Those staying at the Courtyard Marriott can walk next door to Hyatt Place. Please arrive by 7:30am. 

Please note: If you miss your scheduled transfer, all the hotels are a short uber ride to Hyatt Place. 

7:15am: Registration is available for those volunteers who did not attend Thursday evening at the Hyatt Place Marathon.

7:45am: Brief opening announcements and instruction. Refillable water bottles and to-go lunch available

8am: Volunteers board buses based on their work assignment and head to work sites!

Please note: There is one main road that connects all of the keys - so we will be on our buses between 45-55 minutes depending on your worksite. The ride is beautiful and this is a great time to get to know your team! We appreciate your patience :)

To reduce the number of cars on the road and parking at our worksites, we highly encourage volunteers to take provided transportation from the Hyatt Place Marathon. If you are headed home directly from the event and need your vehicle at the worksite, we understand and will provide driving/parking instructions. But please, if you do not need to leave straight from the event, join us for the ride to/from worksites and a drink after the work day! 

9am: Work begins!

Water and granola bars will be available at each worksite. Lunch will be picked up in the morning during opening at Hyatt Place and volunteers can eat at their leisure during the day. 

Work gloves and all the tools needed to comfortably get your project done will be available on site.

Because of the varying nature of our work, projects will have different ending times depending on distance from Marathon, amount of work planned and weather. Most groups will wrap for the day between 3/3:30pm. Our divers and snorkelers should plan to be out on the boat until 4:30pm and then will transfer back to Marathon from the marina.  

4:30pm - 7pm: Get together back at Faro Blanco, Hyatt Place

Because our projects end at varying times because of distance and diver/snorkeling boat schedule, we will hold a casual "come and go as you please" closing at the bar at Faro Blanco at the Hyatt Place. Tourism Cares staff will be there hanging out and will have vouchers available for food and drink until 7pm.

Return shuttle service will be available from host hotels to Hyatt Place on a loop from 4pm - 7pm. 

Project Concludes. We encourage you to stay for the weekend! Check out these fun things and attractions nearby. 

1)      The Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center - ORANGE & LAVENDER TEAMS

The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center is a not for profit 501(c)3 conservation organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of native and migratory wild birds that have been harmed or displaced; providing or locating a humane shelter for those birds that cannot be released; and educating the public toward the importance of coexistence with all wild bird species.

Projects include: Leopold's enclosure rebuild and exhibit entryway (Leopold is the Sanctuary's non-releasable Barred Owl. His enclosure is the oldest and we need to rebuild it basically from scratch) and a boardwalk clear-out - involves clearing out debris from beneath the Sanctuary's boardwalk and hauling the material to their on-site dumpster.

WHAT TO WEAR/BRING WITH: 

  • Your TC t-shirt
  • Your TC bandana
  • Close-toed shoes - REQUIRED or you will not be able to participate
  • Long pants strongly suggested
  • Bring a hat! 

2)      Coral Restoration Foundation - BLACK TEAM

Coral Restoration Foundation is a nonprofit ocean conservation organization working to restore our coral reefs, educating others on the importance of our oceans, and using science to further research and monitoring techniques. Hands-on, they are dedicated to creating offshore nurseries and restoration programs for threatened coral species. These programs have allowed them to take the lead in innovative nursery and restoration techniques that are implemented worldwide.

Our group will meet together at the Coral Restoration Foundation HQ in the morning in Key Largo for an orientation and education session on the coral reefs and the work they are doing. After lunch on site, we will split the group.

We will have 3-5 divers going out to the boat for an afternoon dive (12:30pm -4:30pm). Divers - your equipment rentals have been paid for by Tourism Cares. 

The remaining 12-15 volunteers will split in the classroom and warehouse to help clean trees, build mono-filament line, drill holes – all work needed to help prepare new trees to be planted.

Check out this video of the staff of the Georgia Aquarium working in the nurseries where our divers will work

WHAT TO WEAR/BRING WITH: 

  • Your TC t-shirt
  • Your TC bandana
  • Close-toed shoes
  • Bring a hat! 
  • Divers: bring your bathing suits and a towel and anything you want on the boat. We will provide you with motion sickness tablets for your comfort as well! 

3)      REEF Environmental Education Foundation - YELLOW & PINK TEAMS

Check out this video of fish ID

REEF conserves marine environments worldwide. Their mission is to protect biodiversity and ocean life by actively engaging and inspiring the public through citizen science, education, and partnerships with the scientific community.

Our volunteers will arrive to the REEF location for an orientation and classroom session in the morning. There, they will learn about the important work REEF is doing and become comfortable and familiar with what a fish ID survey is and how to get it done accurately.

After lunch on site, the group will move to the boat for afternoon snorkeling and fish ID (12:30pm – 4:30pm)

 Please note: Volunteers may purchase the fish ID survey gear to take with you for future dives. They can continue to help REEF around the country!

WHAT TO WEAR/BRING WITH: 

  • Your TC t-shirt
  • Your TC bandana
  • Bring a hat! 
  • Bring a bathing suit and towel and anything you want on the boat
  • We will provide you with motion sickness tablets for your comfort as well! 

 

  5)      Conch Republic Marine Army - ROYAL BLUE, GRAY & LIGHT BLUE TEAMS

The Conch Republic Marine Army is a grassroots, volunteer organization dedicated to the restoration of the Florida Keys’ waterways after the impact of Hurricane Irma.   Conch’s have a special kind of unrelenting drive.  And optimism.  They do not back down, nor do they quit.  When they see neighbors who need assistance, they help.  Unconditionally.  When they see a need, they volunteer.  And so an army was created.  An army of people, both from within the Republic and outside of the Keys, who have come together to restore what Irma took away, and to make everyone’s lives better.

 We will be working with Brian Vest, the founder of CRMA on a shoreline and kayak debris clean in Big Pine.

WHAT TO WEAR/BRING WITH:

  • Your TC t-shirt
  • Your TC bandana
  • Bring a hat!
  • Layers are suggested to shield you from the sun - bring a long sleeved shirt
  • Close-toed shoes or  water shoes if you want to work in the water. Bring sandals with you as well
  • Bring a suit and towel in case you want to jump in the water! 

 6)      Habitat for Humanity of the Middle Keys - LIME GREEN & KELLY GREEN TEAMS

Habitat’s Critical Home Repair program is an extension of their mission to build strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter. Habitat for Humanity of the Middle Keys’ Critical Home Repair program is an outreach initiative to assist Irma damaged homes for low and moderate-income families.

 Volunteers will be working in/around Marathon on home repairs – everything from hanging dry wall, to building fencing, to painting. Needs change on almost a daily basis. We will have more info on the site – and the actual family you are helping – before the event day.

WHAT TO WEAR/BRING WITH: 

  • Your TC t-shirt
  • Your TC bandana
  • Bring a hat!
  • Close-toed shoes are REQUIRED
  • Long pants suggested
  • Long sleeves suggested  (at least bring with you as layer to have)

  7)      Habitat for Humanity of Key West and the Lower Florida Keys - WINE & RED TEAMS

More than building homes, Habitat builds communities, hope and the opportunity for families to help themselves. Habitat for Humanity builds and repairs houses using volunteer labor and donations. Their partner families purchase these houses through no-profit, no-interest mortgage loans or innovative financing methods.

 Volunteers will be working in an area of Big Pine known as “Habitat Landing”, a grouping of houses that Habitat is rebuilding/repairing.  Volunteers will be working on home repairs – everything from hanging dry wall, to building fencing, to painting. Needs change on almost a daily basis. We will have more info on the site – and the actual family you are helping – before the event day.

WHAT TO WEAR/BRING WITH: 

  • Your TC t-shirt
  • Your TC bandana
  • Bring a hat!
  • Close-toed shoes are REQUIRED
  • Long pants suggested
  • Long sleeves suggested  (at least bring with you as layer to have)

 8)      Grimal Grove - WHITE & PURPLE TEAMS

Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAiNrHpUI6E&t

The Grimal Grove is a small farm and botanical garden. Its primary purpose is to grow food for the community. The secondary purpose of the grove is it is a community resource: botanical garden, tours, research, education, the arts, and events. The Grimal Grove is the first agricultural venture of its kind in the Florida Keys in the last 50 years. It
has a great historical significance as well as a crucial agricultural impact. The
Grimal Grove is the backbone of a growing cultural awareness centered on a local
food movement in the Florida Keys.

 Volunteers will be helping with a number of projects on the farm – from planting, to general clean-up to simple building projects.

WHAT TO WEAR/BRING WITH:

  • Your TC t-shirt
  • Your TC bandana
  • Bring a hat!
  • Close-toed shoes
  • Long pants suggested
  • Long sleeves suggested  (at least bring with you as layer to have)

For a list of work site assignments, click here

Shuttle service will be provided from host hotels to event locations on both Thursday and Friday. To alleviate traffic, emissions and parking issues, we highly encourage volunteers to grab a seat on our transfers. 

For Friday, we still strongly suggest taking a Tourism Cares ride - to keep us all together and reduce the number of cars at each worksite. 

If you plan on leaving for home/airport before our casual closing at the Hyatt Place and cannot take our provided transfer, please email geoff.dion@tourismcares.org for specific driving and parking instruction based on your worksite. 

Please see the schedule for specific transfer times. 

The opening reception on Thursday is casual. 

For the volunteer day, Tourism Cares will provide you with a moisture-wicking UV protection t-shirt. Please see each individual work project for a listing of what to wear and what to bring with you including proper foot wear, bathing suit, etc. 

Please note: Some of our worksites will not have a private place to change clothes before boarding the bus for the return transfer. We encourage you to jump in the water if you can, but please keep that in mind! 

May in the keys is typically hot and humid. Hydration is key during this event - so please make sure to drink plenty of water! 

Although it will be hot, we suggest wearing/bringing breathable layers to protect you from the sun. 

The event will take place rain or shine and we will provide ponchos in the event of inclement weather. 

We will make sure you don't go hungry during our event! Hor d'oeuvres will be served on Thursday evening. Dinner is on your own that evening if you are still hungry after the event. Faro Blanco does have a full menu, and there are restaurants close by around Marathon. 

For Friday, breakfast is on your own so please eat before arriving to the Hyatt Place. 

Granola bars will be available for a snack and a sandwich lunch will be provided. Vouchers will be handed out at the end of the day to order anything you'd like at Faro Blanco back at Hyatt Place that afternoon. 

We would strongly suggest leaving any valuables at the host hotels during our work day on Friday as we cannot guarantee there will be a safe place to store them while you work and there will not be enough room in the vehicles for luggage. 

We will provide a small backpack to keep your necessary belongings with you for the day. 

  • Layers! We know it's hot, but the sun is strong in South Florida in May. Consider bringing SPF clothing, specifically long sleeved, to protect you from the sun
  • Water shoes - some of our projects are in/around water
  • Clothing and shoes you do not mind getting dirty 
  • Hat
  • Raincoat
  • A smile and positive attitude :) This is going to be so much fun! 

Please post from your worksite on your own social media sites! Use hashtags #TC4SoFla and #TCVolunteers. Follow and tag us at @TourismCares

We are doing our best to be as sustainable as possible during our event in the Keys.

We are eliminating plastic - so all volunteers will receive a refillable water bottle and water stations will be available at each worksite. Want to bring your own water bottle? We encourage it, our bottles can be used at future events going forward.

Our name badges are made of recycled materials - and they can be reused. If you don't want to bring yours home as a memento, please give to your team leader at the end of the day so that we may use them at a future event. 

We will provide blue recycling bags to all groups - no matter what your project, if you see plastics laying around, grab a blue bag and fill it. Our leaders will work with the city to have recycling picked up separately from the trash. 

We encourage carpooling and utilizing our provided transportation. We don't want 150 cars on the road! 

Our lunches will not be bagged or boxed - we ask our volunteers to grab what they'd like for lunch and utilize your backpack to hold your stuff. Anything we don't take in the morning will be donated! 

We are using coral safe sunscreen at all worksites - when chemicals from sunscreens, shampoo, leave-in conditioner, moisturizers and more end up in freshwater sources, the balance is disrupted. These ingredients may cause physiological changes in aquatic organisms and may become lethal at high concentrations. We're going to keep our corals safe!

We have 150 attendees joining us from 55 different companies from 25 states across the United States.

Please note: We will not have a print-out of this list included in registration this year to reduce paper. Click here to download our full attendee list (as of 5.3.2018)