On April 22, we will celebrate Earth Day – an annual event created in 1970 to raise awareness of the need to protect our planet’s natural resources for future generations. In Genesee County, there is an agency that works very hard to protect this area’s natural resources.
Founded in 2004, Keep Genesee County Beautiful (KGCB) has a mission to “encourage, educate and engage residents in creating beautiful, clean and sustainable neighborhoods, parks and open spaces throughout the City of Flint and Genesee County.” In January 2016, KGCB became an official program of the Genesee County Parks & Recreation Commission and also collaborates and has a partnership with the City of Flint.
“Our volunteers are authentic, caring and passionate people who believe in Flint, believe in their neighborhoods and their public spaces.”
Nancy Edwards, KGCB Director
According to Nancy Edwards, KGCB Director since 2018, the organization’s goal is to improve communities, their environment and quality of life by offering support to citizens who selflessly cultivate change in their neighborhoods. “Our vision is to have life-enriching neighborhoods, parks and open spaces in Flint and Genesee County,” she reports. “We provide support to volunteers doing clean-ups and support for public space clean-ups.”
There are several programs within KGCB including: Cultivating Our Community, Bag It, Community Clean-Ups, Illegal Dumping & Blight, Recycling, Adopt a Park, and Hazardous Household Waste Collection. In the Cultivating Our Community program, KGCB works with volunteer groups to maintain gateway gardens to the City of Flint and other gardens in public spaces, Edwards says. In the Recycling program, the agency supplies residents with correct information about how and where to recycle items, as each community has its own recycling program.
The City of Flint does not have its own parks & rec program, so KGCB recruits volunteers to maintain Flint parks. There are 1,881 acres of park land in Flint – 70 parks. “Adopt a Park is our biggest program,” Edwards shares. “Many people don’t understand that the city is not doing the upkeep. It is neighbors, families, friends, neighborhoods – people who care about their community and want the public spaces to be beautiful and usable. We aren’t the ones out there picking up the trash; we coordinate the efforts.”
Edwards is also the Recreation Program & Grant Officer for Genesee County Parks – Michigan’s largest county park system – and has worked for Genesee County Parks since 2004. Grants and donations fund the programs, including grants from the Ruth Mott Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (among others) and they are an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, the largest community improvement organization in the U.S. “People value the work we do and they help fund it,” Edwards says. A staff of four people oversee the KGCB programs, as well as a social media staff member.
Edwards is a person who likes to get things done. “With me, it’s little talk and a lot of action.” One big accomplishment for KGCB was the replacement of every playground in every city park, approximately 37 of them.
Making it all possible is a group of many dedicated volunteers. “We couldn’t do what we do without volunteers,” says the Director, adding that KGCB is interested in connecting with people who have a skill or talent they would like to share with the community. “I love our volunteers. They are authentic, caring and passionate people who believe in Flint, believe in their communities and their public spaces,” Edwards notes. “Volunteers are the heart of our program. They make it work.”
|# of Cleanup Events||# of Vols.||Total Vol. Hrs.||Value of Hours||# of Trash Bags||Lbs. of Trash||# of Yard Waste Bags||Lbs. of Yard Waste|
|Cultivating Our Community||385||188||2,093||$54,768||214||5,350||488||19,520|