Keep Virginia Beautiful’s “30 Grants in 30 Days” was a great success in 2013! Our nearly 3,000 volunteers worked tirelessly to make the 30 projects a great success, cleaning up 14,057 pounds of debris; planting 705 plants and 109 trees; and installing 25 gardens. Keep Virginia Beautiful would like to thank Lowe’s and Keep America Beautiful for their sponsorship of our “30 in 30″ program in 2013!
Keep Ohio Beautiful and The Home Depot Foundation visited the Chalmers P. Wylie Columbus VA Ambulatory Care Center on Oct. 17 to create a peaceful green space for veterans and their families. The Columbus VA initiative is among several similar projects funded by a grant to Keep Ohio Beautiful from the Home Depot Foundation.
Approximately 80 Home Depot associates from 14 Home Depot stores in central Ohio worked to help enhance outdoor space for the veterans. The volunteers installed multiple projects, including: 1) A paver patio with a pergola, which will be used for entertainment and education for outdoor programs and events; 2) A patio with seating and plantings for veterans and their families to relax and visit while they are at the Medical Center for treatment; 3) Two raised planters where veterans can plant and care for annuals and vegetables; and 4) A buffer zone comprised of 25 arborvitae trees around the grounds to make it an inviting space for veterans and their families.
“These projects provide veterans with increased access to new and improved gardens, but also an opportunity to be actively engaged in horticultural activities with the introduction of raised beds and planters, and have peaceful visiting areas with the addition of the patios,” explained Michael Mennett, executive director of Keep Ohio Beautiful.
The green space around the Columbus VA Ambulatory Care Center is used for a variety of activities, such as exercise, picnics and patient rehabilitation through horticulture therapy practices. A comprehensive garden program was developed to allow veterans to grow plants from seed and distribute the grown vegetables to other veterans. With the new raised beds, veterans who are physically compromised will now have an easier time participating in this activity.
“I would characterize the veterans’ sentiment towards this project as one of gratitude, and when individuals and organizations honor their service through projects like this, there is a genuine sense of appreciation for their efforts,” said Keith Sullivan, director, Chalmers P. Wylie Columbus VA Ambulatory Care Center. “With the help of Keep Ohio Beautiful and the Home Depot Foundation, the new greening projects add to our ongoing Relationship Based Care Initiative that aims to care for the veterans’ mind, body and spirit through a caring and healing environment.”
After the work was completed, Keep Ohio Beautiful held a dedication ceremony with remarks from speakers Dan Weisenbach, vice president, Keep Ohio Beautiful; Frank Graves, RPSM, Ohio Valley northern division, Home Depot; Keith Sullivan, director of the Chalmers P. Wylie Columbus VA Ambulatory Care Center; Rick Isabel, Mayor Coleman’s cabinet member and veterans affairs coordinator; and Mayor Kim Maggard, The City of Whitehall.
“The Home Depot Foundation shares a passion with Keep Ohio Beautiful to help make a difference in the lives of the veterans at the Columbus VA Ambulatory Care Center,” said Kelly Caffarelli, president of The Home Depot Foundation. “We were thrilled to be part of their efforts by lending a hand for this project that will benefit so many veterans and their families.”
Keep the Midlands Beautiful staff and volunteers were joined by employees from TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, and Alliance for Community Trees (ACTrees) on Oct. 25 at Martin Luther King Jr. Park to participate in TD Tree Days, a cooperative effort to plant new trees in local communities in need.
As part of TD Forests, the bank’s environmental initiative to reduce paper usage and increase protected forest habitat, TD Bank and ACTrees are partnering with local community organizations for TD Tree Days. The tree-planting events will take place from Maine to Florida during September and October in communities and neighborhoods in need. The native tree species to be planted are drought resistant, consume little water, help with storm water retention and more. Volunteers planted 75 trees at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, a community park that provides recreation and open space relaxation to the surrounding neighborhood. Martin Luther King Jr. Park is one of only 18 locations selected for this nationwide event.
“Keep the Midlands Beautiful is excited to receive one of only 18 grants in the nation that will benefit our community. Planting 75 trees in a community park will help the park by bringing shade, improving neighborhood aesthetics and helping with water management and air quality” said Jacqueline Buck, executive director of Keep the Midlands Beautiful.
“TD Bank is showing their commitment to our community by funding programs like this and partnering with organizations like ACTrees brings immeasurable benefits to our neighborhoods.” Buck added. “Finally, this event would not be possible without the support of Graham Taylor and the City of Columbia Parks and Recreation Department.”
In the coming days, the work of one of Keep Mississippi Beautiful’s largest beautification projects will blossom, literally.
Our organization partnered with several nonprofits to sow more than 1 million flowering bulbs, the first of which should be blooming as fall nears. This effort was funded by donations by KMB and other groups and it armed 26 communities across the state with boxes of flowering bulbs, including dahlias, gladiolas and peonies.
From the Coast to the Delta to northeast Mississippi, we worked with America Responds with Love, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Mississippi Beverage Association, Mississippi Municipal League, our affiliates and many other partners to make this possible.
Planting trees, shrubs and flowers has obvious perks. Plants improve aesthetics, help clean air and water, and provide shade and sanctuary.
But the benefits of beautification efforts are bigger. They lead to higher property values and can truly transform a neighborhood.
For example, tree-scaped business districts average 12 percent higher revenue than treeless areas. When a tree is planted within 50 feet of a home, it can increase the home’s value by 9 percent. And homes within a quarter mile of a park boast a 10 percent higher value.
Research shows people prefer natural landscape to hard-scapes, even showing that urban residents dislike treeless, empty spaces. When trees were added, more people took advantage of that urban place. A study also showed that exposure to public green spaces also builds a stronger sense of unity among residents.
It’s pretty amazing what a green thumb can do for a community. And it makes sense why one of our key objectives is community greening.
We’re affiliated with Keep America Beautiful, and like us, our state is home to affiliates that serve cities, counties and even a reservoir. With 30 affiliates and four new ones about to be on the roster, our network has made a big impact across the state.
In September, Keep America Beautiful and its many affiliates will celebrate National Planting Day, an event in which groups like us gather together to beautify communities.
If you live in Mississippi, I encourage you to see if your community has a Keep Mississippi Beautiful affiliate. If it does, join in and see how you can help clean and green your community. If it doesn’t consider joining us for a volunteer project or look into starting an affiliate in your community.
-Sarah Kountouris is executive director of Keep Mississippi Beautiful.
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.
The Youth Tree Team program at Keep Indianapolis Beautiful is wrapping up for the summer. High school students from around the city worked to mulch, water and maintain more than 5,000 trees each week. The students carry 2 buckets of water ( 80lbs! ) to each tree once a week. It’s a lot of hard work, but there is also a lot of fun to be had.
During the summer, the high school students work three days a week, then on Thursdays they participate in enrichment activities. Activities this year included rafting on the White River, creating art out of nature at the Indianapolis Art Center and learning how to follow a compass during an orienteering lesson.
The teens also took an overnight wilderness trip in the woods where they hiked, participate in leadership and team building activities and learn how to identify trees.
This year, 61 high school students and 16 adult leaders participated in the program, but the work doesn’t stop with the end of the summer! During the fall and early winter, the students return on weekends to help water, mulch and plant trees around Indianapolis.
On a chilly Saturday morning in November 2012, a group of Lowe’s Heroes assembled with KIB staffers along Fall Creek waterway to plant 71 large, Indiana native trees, as part of a native habitat restoration effort along this Indianapolis waterway. Planting trees as “green infrastructure” lessens the pressure on our city’s combined sewer system, reducing overflow events into Fall Creek, and improving our the quality of our waterways.
Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. (KIB) has had a wonderful experience partnering with Lowe’s locally. KIB received a 2012 grant from Keep America Beautiful and Lowe’s to plant 180 trees as part of our Fall Creek restoration project. Lowe’s brought out 40 extremely hard-working volunteers, who were all in good spirits despite the cold, damp morning, and they got the trees planted in just about an hour and a half! Several Lowe’s employees also told us that they learned the proper way to plant a tree!
Altogether last fall, volunteers and KIB staff planted a total of 183 trees along Fall Creek, despite the severe drought in central Indiana, which compressed our planting schedule. Thank you again to Keep America Beautiful and Lowe’s for the wonderful support of trees and “green” in Indy!
On May 4, OKC Beautiful Teen Board Members gathered together to clean up and landscape the grounds of two local temporary housing shelters for homeless women and children. The goal of the project was to enhance the lives of the residents of the homes, while giving the Teen Board the opportunity to give back to individuals in need. Providing a beautiful environment tells the community that someone cares and helps to promote local pride. Teen Board Members removed dead trees and shrubs, did lots of weeding and, by the end of the day, each house had beautiful new landscaping to enjoy. During the day residents from the local shelters came out to help the members, especially the youngest members of the shelters. The children at one shelter were especially excited to get a new tree for their front yard to replace a dead one. The OKC Beautiful Teen Board would like to thank Lowe’s for its Community Improvement Grant that helped make this project possible.