Cleveland/Bradley Keep America Beautiful has been working with other organizations this summer to carry out its namesake mission — to keep Cleveland and Bradley County “beautiful.”
During the nonprofit’s monthly board meeting Wednesday afternoon, its members discussed cleanup and recycling projects that it has had a hand in leading or helping.
Executive Director Joanne Maskew said today will mark the last day a group of students from out of town helping with projects to beautify the city. Students attending a Student Life camp that is using Lee University as its location have been volunteering to help clean up properties with KAB.
She said she oversaw a group from Fort Worth, Texas, Thursday as they cleaned up properties on Wildwood Avenue and Wildwood Lake Road that had been foreclosed upon because of taxes not being paid, doing everything from picking up large amounts trash to mowing grass.
“The grass was up to my waist,” Maskew said. “We have emptied four city trucks.”
KAB members have also been working to clean up a property on Bryant Lane, along with members of the Ocoee Region Builders Association and Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland.
Another new partnership has seen KAB helping find funding for a project being spearheaded by local nonprofit Impact Cleveland to clean up the area around its Blythe Avenue location.
“They are working to clean up the area, and we are applying for grants to help,” Maskew said.
The local KAB affiliate is eligible to apply for a variety of grants from the national organization to go toward community cleanup projects.
KAB grant money has already gone toward helping with a new recycling program within the Family Support Center on Blythe Avenue, a building that houses several nonprofit organizations. Recyclables will be collected from the center, and the local Coca-Cola Refreshments plant will take them in as part of its community recycling program.
The board’s attention then turned to the topic of pay for the executive director.
Though the local Keep America Beautiful is an affiliate of a national nonprofit organization, it receives funding from the city of Cleveland, and Maskew is considered a city employee.
Maskew updated the board on changes to her wages this year, explaining that she will not receive a raise.
“Is that fair?” board vice president Shane Lawson asked, pointing out that all other city employees are set to receive raises within the year.
Maskew clarified that she has been given extra insurance benefits. She said the city currently pays for individual health insurance coverage for its employees, but most employees are required to pay for family coverage on their own. However, the city government has paid for her to receive family coverage, and she said she preferred that over a raise.
The board also discussed reports from individual KAB committees that focus on everything from education to business and industry. However, none of the committees had been able to meet due to either summer breaks or other extenuating circumstances. Board members were set to hear a report on the Coalition for Community Improvement from Criss Caywood, a board member and Cleveland Police Department codes enforcement officer, but he could not attend due to the illness of his father, Bradley County Commissioner Terry Caywood.
While the education committee did not meet, board president Shari Horton said she has continued to receive positive feedback about an activity KAB volunteers did with children in local schools. Children got the chance to plant sunflower seeds during the school year as they taught them about how plants grow.
Horton said she heard that one sunflower which had been transplanted into the ground outside the school had grown “as tall as the building.”
As the summer continues, the board is making plans to continue its volunteer projects.
On Saturday, June 28, there will be a “Treasure and Trash” event to clean up the area around Charleston Park. Volunteers will meet at the park in Charleston to help out, from 9 a.m. to noon. Maskew said a variety of different people have helped with such events in the past, from individuals needing to complete community service hours to church groups looking for ways to help their community.
On Friday, Aug. 1, volunteers will be converging on East Cleveland between 9 a.m. and noon for a neighborhood cleanup event along Blythe Avenue. Volunteers from KAB and other organizations are set to assist neighborhood residents as they work to make it a cleaner place to live.
For more information about KAB’s projects, call 423-559-9789 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.