Keep Phoenix Beautiful (KPB) is a nonprofit organization funded by the city of Phoenix Public Works Department. For nearly four decades, it has activated volunteer projects around the city, cleaned up litter from neighborhoods, provided recycling education in schools, and assisted with recycling at special events, according to the KPB website.
KPB is one of 650 affiliates of Keep America Beautiful (KAB.org), which aims to “inspire and educate people to take action each day to improve their community environment.”
“We maintain two community gardens in the urban core of Phoenix,” said KPB President, Tom Waldeck. “From pulling weeds, cutting grass, and maintaining garden beds, there is always work to do. We also partner with local parks to do projects around the city.”
Its Phoenix gardens are located at 19th Avenue and Camelback Road, as well as in the Sunnyslope community.
When COVID-19 hit, KPB had to shut down everything. Instead of gathering for its regular clean up events, it decided to create take-home clean up kits. Cindy Moss, the KPB program director, said the cleanup kit program is called “My Beautiful PHX” and allows families to reserve and borrow a bucket of supplies.
“The safety of our volunteers is our top priority. Since there are still risks, we thought it would be good to encourage people to still do cleanup projects in small groups with their friends and family. And we would give them the tools to do that,” Moss said.
The organization recently met at Steele Indian School Park to celebrate “National Cleanup Day” and distribute 100 cleaning kits to residents. Moss said they are slowly starting to get back into action and their kit distribution was the first one out of the “COVID-gate”.
“I am always in awe and so inspired by our volunteers and how much they help us,” Moss said. “They are truly the heart and soul of our organization and go above and beyond what they are asked to do.”
KPB volunteer projects are “family-friendly” and suited for all ages.
“Volunteers can bring their kids or their grandparents. Everyone is capable of keeping Phoenix beautiful,” Waldeck said.
Waldeck is excited to host upcoming volunteering events after having to cancel any that were previously scheduled. On October 17, small groups will be doing a garden clean up at each location with a “limit of ten volunteers per garden.” On October 23 and 24, KPB plans to install a new fence at its Pierson Street garden with Love Tito’s in small groups.
“From 8 to 10 a.m. on October 17th, we want to get ready for fall planting,” Moss said. “We’ll be doing things like preparing garden beds, filling them with soil, doing some planting, preparing compost, possibly some painting and art projects. There will be plenty of room for social distancing.”
KPB will continue to post upcoming projects and volunteer opportunities on its website, Facebook, and Twitter.
“The part I love most about my job is working with volunteers. They are so inspiring to me. I get to meet great people, and it’s always a positive experience. I hope we can continue to host cleanup events for the community despite the pandemic,” Moss said.