Volunteer Spotlight, Sammy Alba and Rubin Orta

Sammy Alba, smiling at the camera, wearing his volunteer uniform.

Sammy Alba and Rubin Orta

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

For 30 years, Sammy Alba and Rubin Orta have been united in service to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park by a love for fishing. Each week both volunteers have shown up regularly to maintain the park’s coveted fishing piers. Over the decades, Sammy and Rubin became fast friends. Both men would tend to coastline and picnic areas, tell stories, and end their days by fishing on the piers they cleaned. As their comradery and park service progressed, their experiences lent themselves to act as impromptu interpreters of the park, relating park history to visitors and handing out the occasional fishing tip.

In recent years, however, Rubin lost both of his legs and now uses a wheelchair. Suddenly, Sammy’s friend in service was less able to participate in the regular maintenance tasks they once did together. Others might have been discouraged, but not Rubin Orta. Sammy Alba now drives Rubin to the pier of his choice where they clean and still fish together. To this day, guests and staff know them as champion story tellers and stewards of park history. They are truly two gifts to Bill Baggs Cape Florida, two friends in service, keeping the platforms clean and in good repair for fishermen to enjoy while telling a fish tale or two to any who are interested.

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Rubin Orta, on the pier fishing.