Keep Oklahoma Beautiful

On February 13, 1945, Pfc. Manuel Perez, Jr., led fellow members of the United States 11th Airborne Infantry Division in an assault on an enemy strong point during the Philippines campaign. Perez succeeded in destroying a heavily defended pillbox, and for his actions that day he was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest decoration our military can bestow upon a soldier. Tragically, Pfc. Perez was killed in action a month later, but his name and legacy live on in a small park in south Oklahoma City, near his 1923 birthplace.

Regretfully, Manuel Perez Park at SW 14th and Harvey has long been neglected. With the coordination efforts of local Keep America Beautiful affiliate, Keep Oklahoma Beautiful and OKC Beautiful, 16 volunteers along with 9 staff and board members, participated in ridding Manuel Perez Park of litter, mulched around grand beautiful trees, and planted flowers around the monument lauding Pfc. Perez. Additionally, this crew gave the park benches and big toy a fresh coat of paint.

America’s leading beer brand, Bud Light in partnership with Keep America Beautiful (KAB), brought the volunteer project “Do Good. Have Fun.” to Oklahoma City. Lisa Synar, Executive Director of OKC Beautiful (OKCB) and Executive Director Jeanette Nance of Keep Oklahoma Beautiful (KOB) joined together and with the permission of Oklahoma City parks department, chose this neglected memorial as the project. Local area adults were recruited to register with Bud Light online to help, “Do Good. Have Fun.” The event was held this past Saturday, May 31, 2014 from 8:00am to Noon. Afterwards the group enjoyed lunch together with a little refreshment contributed by Bud Light.

Keep America Beautiful is the nation’s leading nonprofit that brings people together to build and sustain vibrant communities. Keep Oklahoma Beautiful is the statewide affiliate and OKC Beautiful is the local affiliate. These two work together to empower Oklahoma citizens to preserve and enhance natural beauty, ensure a healthy environment and to improve the image and appearance of the communities within which we live.

Helping in this small community just south of the beautiful Sky Bridge over I-40, meant so much to the families surrounding the park, several of whom came out to help. At the end of the day, “we did a good thing” said Lisa Synar, of OKCB. “To witness the teary eyed thank you of the small group that has worked so hard to save this small park was a blessing beyond measure,” said Jeanette Nance of KOB. During the clean up at the end of the project a woman, her child, and her mother drove slowly by, rolled down the car window and said to the group, “I grew up playing here, this is an amazing thing you have done, thank you so much!”

Keep Chicago Beautiful Engages Volunteers for “Do Good. Have Fun.” Playground Restoration

Nearly 100 volunteers joined Bud Light, Keep Chicago Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful at Calumet Park District in Chicago, Ill., to beautify a community park and #dogoodhavefun.

The volunteers descended upon the park amidst cheering from the Chicago Bulls’ Luvables, and were then brought in for a quick team huddle and warmup before the day’s work began. Volunteers worked in smaller groups — some worked together to rejuvenate and repair the basketball court; others worked on fixing up the running track; while the remaining  volunteers worked on removing litter, pulling weeds from the tennis court, and cleaning up the area surrounding the park playground.

Volunteers worked long and hard to get the job done. One of the day’s biggest surprises was the appearance of Chicago Bulls legend Toni Kukoc and current Chicago Bulls small forward Jimmy Butler. Kukoc and Butler graciously took the time to shoot some hoops with the volunteers, play a little one-on-one as well as take pictures and sign autographs.

After the event, volunteers were then invited to Murphy’s Bleachers pub next to Wrigley Field to enjoy some food and Bud Light, as a reward for their hard work.

Check out these photos from recent Bud Light/Keep America Beautiful “Do Good. Have Fun.” events, and look to see if an event is taking place in a community near you this summer!

Orange County Coastkeeper, Costa Mesa, CA

Thanks to a KAB/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant, Orange County Coastkeeper opened the Coastkeeper Garden, a demonstration garden featuring six native plant communities, drought-tolerant vegetation, and a natural playground. The grant helped us establish an active docent program, launch a series of free workshops, and complete construction on our natural playground. The garden sits on a parcel of land behind a community college that was previously vacant, untended and unused. The space is now flourishing and vibrant, helping to connect youth to the natural environment and inspiring local residents how to save water and reduce water pollution.

The natural playground, in particular, has been a positive and meaningful addition to the community, providing a unique venue for children to play and explore. We’ve had hundreds of young visitors come to enjoy the deer grass maze, willow tree tunnel, and log pathways. We’ve also hosted a number of events designed to promote nature connection and creativity, including adobe brick building, pumpkin painting, and for older kids, making succulent arrangements.

Our sustainable landscaping workshop series has had a great start. These hands-on workshops are offered free of charge, and inspire local residents to plan, design, and maintain their own drought-tolerant gardens. Our vision is that every visitor to the garden will carry away the message that water and energy conservation can be simple, cost-efficient, low-maintenance, and beautiful.

Keep Genesee County Beautiful – Flint, MI

It was a cold and rainy 37 degrees on Nov. 11 when the final touches were completed at the KAB/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant-supported baseball field in Hardenbrook Park. The  press conference and thank you’s started at 11:30 a.m. with managers from the Flint Township and Burton Lowe’s store on hand as well as a half dozen alumni from the park’s sponsor, the Flint Northern Class of 1974. We watched as the final layer of ball diamond meal was worked into the ground. The bleachers, players’ benches and trash receptacles were in place, and repairs on the backstop had been completed. Now that most of the leaves had dropped, we could clearly see the 450-foot fence line that was the result of the labor of Lowe’s Heroes and Keep Genesee County Beautiful’s community volunteers in September.

The talk quickly turned to planning a ribbon cutting event in the spring at the first baseball game. This generated talk of future baseball tournaments, kick ball games and tee ball games. And, of course, the alumni group added that this means there should be a party and a cook out and other reasons to gather the surrounding community together to celebrate. After the media had left and the bulldozer continued to finish the job, the rain turned into snow, reminding us all that we had the whole winter to plan for the spring kickoff and the renewal of another City of Flint park!

-View a YouTube video of images taken during the Hardenbrook Park cleanup and park improvement project.
-Watch local news coverage of the event on ABC12
-Read local news coverage of the event at the Flint Journal

Keep Akron Beautiful — Akron, OH

On Aug. 21, 2013 after months of planning, the Lowe’s Heroes from Fairlawn and Alliance, Ohio, banded together to carry out a park spruce-up project at two City of Akron parks: Davenport Park and Erie Island Park. In just a few hours many tasks were completed.

At Davenport Park, Lowe’s volunteers replaced lumber and stained all of the dilapidated benches by the park restroom and on the t-ball fields. Children were virtually unable to sit on these benches, so we completely refurbished them. Next, the Lowe’s Heroes volunteers stained all of the picnic tables, benches and bleachers in the entire park. They labored alongside City of Akron Arborist Bill Hahn and planted 10 trees. As if that wasn’t enough, they proceeded to spruce up all of the park signs! The Lowe’s team ripped out all of the old, dying plants, tilled and added more soil, and planted a beautiful array of flowers. The park sign spruce-up also included a new coat of brown and yellow paint to make the City of Akron park sign POP!

At the Erie Island Park ball fields, the Lowe’s Heroes spread gravel around the new picnic tables so that the area would be easy to walk through. They also created a new planting bed, roto-tilled, added new soil and planted alongside the Keep Akron Beautiful crew.

Six City of Akron parks received new trash and recycling receptacles, including Davenport Park and Erie Island Park/ball fields, where the projects took place. These receptacles will encourage recycling and were exclusively placed in parks that have youth sporting activities happening in the park. The six parks receiving these receptacles include: Copley Road Soccer Complex, Davenport Park, Erie Island Park/ball fields, Lane Field, Patterson Park and Prentiss Park. All of the sports teams that practice or play in these parks were given an education about what to deposit into the trash container and what to deposit in the recycling container. Keep Akron Beautiful is encouraging players, coaches and fans to make the right choice in depositing their waste and NOT littering in the parks! Educational materials were given out, and all of the recycling bins have a sticker affixed to them to remind citizens what is appropriate to throw in the bins. Each team was also given a supply of trash and recycling bags, so they are able to do a litter sweep after each practice or game.

Keep Akron Beautiful appreciates all of the assistance of the City of Akron Parks Department, as well as the Fairlawn Lowe’s store. We are so proud to show off all of the good being done in our community! Thank you, Lowe’s for funding our $20,000 Community Improvement Grant and to the Fairlawn Lowe’s store for choosing us as your “Lowe’s Heroes” project. We are so proud of the work we have accomplished, and will continue to accomplish through our new recycling program.

Keep Genesee County Beautiful – Flint, Michigan

The excitement is growing as we begin the countdown for a new baseball field via our KAB/Lowe’s Community Improvement grant. Two years ago, this park was nothing but waist high grass where no one could play. The Flint Northern Class of 1974 alumni decided to adopt the park that was in their neighborhood when they were children. The grass was mowed, the playground and basketball courts were painted and they started to hold community events and programs for children at this inner city park.

This year, this volunteer group became Park Tenders with Keep Genesee County Beautiful. Then we received additional funding through the Lowe’s grant and the plan moved forward. This grant will pay for a new baseball field (including bleachers, player benches, waste receptacles and bases), repair the backstop and basketball court and replace the fence at the park entrance. On Sept. 14, volunteers from Lowe’s and Park Tenders will work side by side to remove overgrown brush and invasive trees from the fence line, creating a “see-through” park, making it safer for everyone.