Blog post written by Erin Stewart, Executive Director, Keep Brazos Beautiful, Inc.
Keep Brazos Beautiful has been proudly serving Brazos County since its formation in 1980. The non-profit was established after Jack and Dorothy Miller organized a very successful cleanup for the community and wanted to continue the beautification efforts. To this day, Keep Brazos Beautiful strives to educate and engage Brazos County citizens to keep our community clean, green, and beautiful.
Almost exactly a year ago, Keep Brazos Beautiful, along with the rest of the world, found itself in an unprecedented set of circumstances. At first, it was believed that the challenges of COVID-19 would be brief. However, it was soon very clear that in order to continue to serve the community, adaptations needed to be made. Keep Brazos Beautiful board members and staff began strategizing ways to continue to achieve our goals while keeping the safety of our community as the number one priority. The plan that was developed has unexpectedly made our organization more productive than we have been in many years.
The first goal was to continue to educate our community, especially children, on the importance of recycling, keeping our community litter-free, and gardening. In May of 2020, a program called Beautiful Things #AtHome was launched. This weekly program made fun projects available that could be picked up outside of the Keep Brazos Beautiful office, contact-free, and taken home to complete. All the project kits were offered at no cost to the public. In the beginning, participation was at about 41 children, but by the end of the program in November, we were regularly serving over 200 children a week! Since the program was so successful and effective at engaging students, in the Spring of 2021 the program will begin again.
The second goal was to continue litter cleanup initiatives. The Litter Toolkit, a program we have had for many years, was adjusted to meet safety criteria and was promoted as a safe way to give back to the community. The Litter Toolkit allows for small groups and families to check out cleanup supplies to perform a cleanup anywhere in Brazos County at any time that is convenient for the volunteer. Keep Brazos Beautiful then coordinates all trash collection and waiver requirements with the Cities prior to the cleanup so all the group has to do is show up. The program was already fairly popular with our community, but during the last 12 months, we have been able to expand our cleanup efforts by over 200%! This program has been so important to the success of our mission this year, especially since all our major cleanup events, such as Texas Trash-Off, had to be canceled.
Keep Brazos Beautiful continues to look for ways to make the organization even more efficient and adaptive so that we can continue to serve Brazos County. The continued support from our funding partners, community, and volunteers has been remarkable, and our accomplishments would not have been possible without them.