Keep Charlotte Beautiful, an Affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, Improves Our Quality of Life
I believe that sometimes people view Keep Charlotte Beautiful (KCB) as the cleanup group or they just key in on beautiful and think we are out planting flower gardens. KCB, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, goes much deeper than that. We focus on our mission of improving the quality of life in Charlotte County by engaging volunteers to keep our community clean and free of debris, conserving resources and beautifying our public spaces.
Do we do cleanups? Oh yes! As strange as this may sound, cleanups help prevent litter. One of the reasons given for littering is that the area is already dirty so people think it is ok to not properly dispose of their trash. Our two biggest cleanups are the Great American Cleanup in the spring and the International Coastal Cleanup in the fall. There were 660 people signed up for this year’s coastal cleanup, a 60% increase over last year and KCB has already been contacted by groups wanting to sign up for next year. I believe this is due in part to the concern over the health of our oceans and our volunteers really are taking the “act locally, think globally” to heart.
We assist with adoption programs Adopt-A-Road-Charlotte County, Adopt-A-Highway-Florida Department of Transportation, and Adopt-A-Shore. These programs allow local businesses and community groups to show their community pride by putting their name on the area that they are taking responsibility for. These programs are absolutely free. We provide the supplies and signs and in return the group does four cleanups per year and reports the results.
For us cleaning up our neighborhoods and public spaces not only makes them more beautiful but also improves property values and tourism turning our healthy places into healthy profits.
Part of KCB’s mission is conserving resources so one of our biggest programs is the Recycle Bowl, a friendly competition between schools, to see who can recycle the most leading up to America Recycles Day. This year KCB set the schools up with posters and book marks featuring Recycle Often. Recycle Right. purchased with the Waste Management Think Green Grant. Charlotte County Solid Waste provided recycle bins and milk carton recycling containers. We had 10 schools participate this year with nearly 1000 students and teachers bringing in just over 40,000 pounds. Almost all of lead teachers reported significant increases in recycling during the month.
Community Greening is my personal favorite because not only do they make our community beautiful but they also require collaboration from many sources and are a source of pride once done. Most of our work in this area consists of working with groups who are putting in pollinator, school, therapeutic, or community gardens. Last year we had a Boy Scout, Malik Victor, redo the memorial sign and garden at the entrance of Northwest Port Charlotte for his Eagle Project. Another scout, Ben Sloan, installed garden beds in a group home for the residents to use. And one of our schools, East Elementary, who lost their trees during Hurricane Charley was able to replace them with our assistance.
The thread through all of our programs is that we are looking to educate our community members and bring them together so they may take the actions that they want to see in their communities-to make their neighborhoods a better place to live. In doing this, we will be healthier people, living in healthy places with a healthy profit.
Rhonda Harvey is the Executive Director of Keep Charlotte Beautiful.