Keep Mississippi Beautiful, Madison, MS

Cities today often operate on shoestring budgets, making the community improvement work of volunteer-based organizations like ours highly valuable. We plant trees, clean up litter, encourage recycling and enhance our surroundings – all efforts to improve the quality of life for Mississippians.

This year, as part of our Great American Cleanup State Kickoff, we worked with Keep Ridgeland Beautiful to transform a small park into a community resource.

Nestled in the historic McLaurin Heights neighborhood, Keep Ridgeland Beautiful board members discovered the park a few years ago and saw it as an opportunity for improvement by adding a picnic area, seating and improved recreation features. This cleanup helped Ridgeland take this park to the next level.

“We’re so thankful to all of the volunteers and partners who came together to make this project possible,” said Jan Richardson, chair of Keep Ridgeland Beautiful. “These upgrades to Midway Park are a blessing to the nearby neighborhood.”

One neighbor at the event told us, “I plan to keep an eye on this park and make sure its users keep it up.” It’s great to see how engaged the neighbors are.

During the cleanup, about 85 volunteers helped install grills, picnic tables, benches, trash, recycling receptacles and even a pergola. Students took the lead on building the pergola as part of a Technology Student Association construction challenge.

The basketball court was resurfaced leading up the cleanup, and volunteers striped new lines, cleaned backboards, put up new nets and added another goal. Volunteers also added wood chips to the park’s playground, where city employees installed to spring riders for young children.

We can’t forget our many volunteers with green thumbs. We spruced up the park with six new trees, dozens of shrubs and flowers, and fresh pine straw to enhance the aesthetics and soil of garden beds. They also picked up litter near the park, including a neighboring wooded area.

And finally, the park got an official sign, which will help ensure Ridgeland citizens know about this local place.

We’re thankful for the volunteers who gave their time and to our many sponsors who helped us make this work possible. Sponsors included: Keep Mississippi Beautiful, Keep America Beautiful, Keep Ridgeland Beautiful, City of Ridgeland, Bulldog Construction Company, Bufkin Mechanical Inc., Waste Management, Ad Camp Inc., Southwest Distributors, Troy-Bilt, Brown Bottling Group, MMC, Colonial Heights Baptist Church, Audubon Homeowners Association, First Ridgeland Baptist Church, Mississippi Railroad Association and Ridgeland City Garden Club.

It’s amazing how we can improve and enhance places, like Midway Park, when working together. Projects like this one are happening across Mississippi as part of the Great American Cleanup, a nationwide clean sweep. More than 200 Great American Cleanups will happen in Mississippi from March to May. Let’s keep up the good work in keeping Mississippi beautiful!

Keep Clinton, MS Beautiful – Clinton, MS

In 2013, Keep Clinton, MS Beautiful received a grant from Keep Mississippi Beautiful and Waste Management Inc. The grant enabled us to construct a Community Garden located at the Clinton Community Christian Corporation. This garden will provide fresh vegetables for low to moderate income residents. It will also aid in the education of the value of fresh vegetables and good health. In a state with a significantly high obesity rate, this garden underscores the importance of healthy lifestyle and food choices. The garden will create an environment by which obesity and hunger are combatted through community partnerships and healthy lifestyles. Classes and cooking demonstrations will continue in coordination with the ongoing maintenance of the garden. The garden is a significant investment in the future of our communities’ ability to meet the needs of our residents while also providing a transformative experience for the children and families benefitting from the garden.

Keep Mississippi Beautiful

By Sarah Kountouris, Executive Director, Keep Mississippi Beautiful

Kamien Way was once a bit tired. And because its proximity to downtown it was definitely not a place that the city of Cleveland, Miss., wanted visitors to see.

But now that’s changed, thanks to help of 350-plus volunteers who turned out for our Great American Cleanup State Kickoff in early April.

Volunteers transformed the alley into a place merchants and visitors can use. And they also spruced up local parks and removed litter from the Delta town’s streets.

Keep Mississippi Beautiful partnered with Keep Cleveland Beautiful, and many other groups who helped make this event possible. A special thanks to Keep Cleveland Beautiful’s executive director, Lisa Cooley, who was the driving force behind this successful event.

Most of our volunteers were from Delta State University, and we were so excited to have the younger generation be a part of the cleanup effort. Plus, it’s neat to see all of the social media buzz they bring with them!

Lisa said it best: “It’s very refreshing to see kids get involved, especially with the hope they will be environmentally responsible adults one day.”

Other partners included: the City of Cleveland (i.e. public works, fire department, parks commission), Joe Reed Dirt, The Sherwin-Williams Company, Sanders Seed, Heidi’s, Sonic, Lenny’s, Keep Cleveland Boring, Bolivar County Literacy Council, Guaranty Bank, Master Gardeners, Cleveland Rent-All, RES, Entergy, JLP Law, Troy-Bilt, and many others.

The alley was the cleanup’s signature project, during which we cleaned up debris, trimmed overgrown plants and painted bare walls. We have plans to add a few murals, and this cleanup effort paved the way for those additional projects. With this work complete, the alley is another asset to the city’s cute downtown, providing parking space and a gathering place. The vision is one day to hold events in the alley, such as concerts and festivals.

This event serves as a foundation for future improvement projects for the alley. As Lisa put it: “The community is so excited about the project. I’ve already had numerous calls about when the next cleanup will take place! We’re excited to see what happens next!”

Learn more by visiting keepmsbeautiful.com.