Keep Denton Beautiful celebrates 30 years of giving back to the community and environment

Keep Denton Beautiful celebrates 30 years of giving back to the community and environment

Keep Denton Beautiful celebrates 30 years of giving back to the community and environment
July 12
19:59 2017

Across Denton, efforts of progression in sustainability and environmental awareness are made visible by the Keep Denton Beautiful organization.

KDB, which is affiliated with Keep Texas Beautiful, has been awarded the Governor’s Community Achievement Award five times since its start back in 1987.

Looking through the past 30 years, Keep Denton Beautiful has transformed into a resource for educational and environmental standards for the Denton community.

“Our mission is to engage our community in creating a clean and beautiful Denton,” Event and Outreach Coordinator Autumn Natalie said.

The 29-year-old University of Oklahoma alumna worked with Plano’s Sustainability Department for six years after graduating college with her degree in environmental science before she joined the KDB team.

Although she has only been working with KDB for one year, she said she has witnessed many successes within the program.

“Our efforts would not be realized without the help of our volunteers,” Natalie said. “Last year, more than 6,000 volunteers donated over 13,000 hours to our programs.”

Over the last two years, KDB held 288 events and activities and 136 liter cleanups, which consisted of 22.12 tons of litter removed from the city, 328 miles of local roadways cleaned, 33 tree planting activities where 2,102 trees were planted and 40 neighborhood and school beautification projects.

“These efforts all contribute to our goal of inspiring positive change, and providing the resources our residents need to leave a lasting mark on the beauty, health and quality of life in Denton,” Natalie said.

Natalie said they have had trouble getting the word out about programs before, but have since retooled marketing strategies to make sure Dentonites know about the great opportunities.

“We are continually within excellent standing and recognized among the top affiliates in the state and county,” Natalie said.

KDB has a certain vision in mind to uphold these standards.

“Our vision is a clean, beautiful and vibrant city – and as you can tell from our assortment of projects, we walk the talk,” Program and Volunteer Coordinator Celia Spilotro said.

Although Spilotro has only been an official staff member at KDB for one year out of the organization’s 30-year timeline, Spilotro said the whole point of the organization is to keep moving forward.

“Continuing this movement has brought so much beauty, health and happiness to the town we all love,” Spilotro said.

Spilotro is a UNT alumna with a B.A. in economics, but said her passion lies in community building and sustainability. Her interest in green initiatives started at UNT through a sustainability internship. She said she has worked in both the government and nonprofit sectors on environmental projects and programs.

KDB has had many successful efforts in sustainability, such as Yard of the Month, Great American Cleanup, Community Tree Giveaway and the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program.

But the Community Tree Giveaway is held closest to Spilotro’s heart.

“This was my first major event with KDB, and it was an honor to serve the community through such an impactful event,” Spilotro said.

The Community Tree Giveaway is KDB’s annual initiative, which provides Denton residents of the community with their very own trees.

Spilotro said last year during the Community Tree Giveaway, the organization gave away 700 trees.

“That’s a lot of trees,” Spilotro said. “You can tell this event is a success not only because of the impact and longevity of the program but through its integration into Denton culture.”

KDB program intern Kristina Brewer has been with Keep Denton Beautiful for about the same amount of time as Spilotro and Natalie and said by working closely with the two, she has been able to see progress and the impacts the organization has on the community.

“In the short time I’ve been an intern, I’ve noticed lots of community involvement,” Brewer said.

Brewer leaves in a few weeks, as she plans on going back to UNT for her master’s degree in nonprofit management. She said her experience at KDB has inspired her to continue her education in the field.

“I was so used to the college volunteer environment,” Brewer said. “We’re not a small community, but it has that small town feel.”

KDB has used that “small town feel” in order to influence various residents within the community.

“Denton residents from any walk of life or skill set can take advantage of our programs,” Spilotro said.

Businesses are eligible to receive delivery and tree plantings for free through KDB’s “Trees Mean Business” program.

Students can rack up community service, volunteer hours and socialize while utilizing KDB’s Special Cleanup program and Garden Workdays.

Neighborhoods and groups within the community benefit from funds provided by KDB that are aimed towards environmental and beautification projects, such as pocket gardens, murals and recycling programs.

“You can see the impact of this organization in the form of ash receptacles and Big Bellies on the Downtown Square, and mural projects on once graffiti-ridden sidewalks and bridges,” Spilotro said. “The best part of it all is these were ideas and projects members of our community put in place.”

Spilotro spends a lot of time on the Square, and often meets people from the community. She said she thinks the organization’s greatest achievement over the years has simply been becoming a household name.

“When I meet people from the community and tell them where I work, their eyes spark with recognition – I could see a story from behind their smile,” Spilotro said.

Though many members of the community will recognize the name, Spilotro said it is important to know the beauty of a community is not a luxury.

KDB is a sounding board for true, people-led change.

“All that is required for [residents] to be involved is a little bit of time,” Spilotro said. “Give us a little bit of time, and you’ll get a new friend, a sunrise, some fresh air, an experience and maybe even a skill. More importantly, you’ll give our community a well-kept garden, a freshly-planted tree, an inspired 3rd grade student [and] a little free sidewalk. That’s worth a lot.”

Featured Image: On the corner of Bonnie Brae and Scripture Street in Denton, a mural lines the sidewalk sponsored by the nonprofit organization Keep Denton Beautiful (KDB). The mural was completed by Artist Shay McAnally in March 2016 as part of a beautification program from KDB called “Artscapes” to discourage graffiti in high-traffic areas in Denton. Katie Jenkins

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Nina Quatrino

Nina Quatrino

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