KAB Helps Neighborhood Network in Middlebury

By Johanna Barnowski, Intern

Middlebury, the first settlement in what is now Akron, is a neighborhood that surrounds much of downtown Akron, yet it is often ignored. Organizations such as Neighborhood Network have made it their mission to change this in order to build community and give hope to Middlebury residents.

Neighborhood Network is one of the main organizations that have made Middlebury a priority. They are a backbone group that brings together organizations, businesses, and residents to establish events that make a difference in this community. Neighborhood Network’s mission is to, “Build a unified voice to renew our community,” according to Marissa Little, Neighborhood Revitalization Coordinator. Little has been a forerunner in advocating for Middlebury and facilitating ways to make change in Akron.

Keep Akron Beautiful has been able to take part in the revitalization and beautification of this community through the use of our Community Pride Trailer and our Litter and Illegal Dump Trailer. The trailers are stocked with landscaping, litter removal, and other supplies that have been vital to the success of these projects.

Volunteers working on yard with Keep Akron Beautiful trailer

Volunteers working on Excelsior with KAB trailer

Our trailers aren’t our only valuable resource though! Little said, “We couldn’t do our work without the supplies from the trailers, but that’s not the only way Keep Akron Beautiful helps us. They provide the valuable resource of knowledge. They have expertise and are a huge help when it comes to planning a cleanup and problem solving.”

Keep Akron Beautiful has also assisted with other Middlebury beautification events. Most recently, our Community Pride Trailer was able to provide over 200 volunteers with cleanup and landscaping supplies at United Way Day of Action’s project “Middlebury Blitz” – in coordination with The Well Community Development Center.

This year, they have used KAB trailers to cleanup .23 tons of litter and debris in April with Hitchcock Flemming & Associates on Roselawn/Excelsior, 5.68 tons in May around Bettie St., .38 tons in June with Hoban High School at Corley & Beaver St., and 150 lbs. in June with Buchtel CLC on Excelsior. Collectively, these volunteers put in 476 man hours on these projects!

volunteers sitting with trash they cleaned up

Volunteers with cleanup from Corley St.

Neighborhood Network has recently merged with Habitat for Humanity of Summit County in order to bring in new groups of volunteers, increase revitalization services, and spread awareness of their mission. Little said that the merger with Habitat for Humanity of Summit County has, “increased the capacity of how many people we can serve. They bring expertise and abilities that we don’t have on our own.”

Neighborhood Network realizes the importance of a community having pride and hope. They work to reinvest value and dignity into Middlebury in hopes that the individual lives and community health of this neighborhood will grow and flourish.

Little says, “Building community helps the residents know that they are not alone in this. They aren’t isolated in this fight. It is a constant effort to build pride and identity in this community, but it is growing.”

Neighborhood Network will continue to develop Middlebury to help the people feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves – where they can find pride and hope. Keep Akron Beautiful is thankful that we get to work alongside such a wonderful organization and see firsthand the transformation happening in a neighborhood that is so close to home.

Neighborhood Network has partnered with several local organizations to create a team called the “What’s Next Committee.” They are creating a survey for Middlebury to find neighborhood assets and challenges, and are hosting several community events to empower the neighbors to steer decisions happening in their own back yard. Keep up with Neighborhood Network’s Facebook Page  to see the survey when it’s ready, and for upcoming events. Neighborhood Network will host Night out Against Crime on August 1 from 5p.m. to 7 p.m. (intersection of E Market and S Arlington)!

Red, White and Green – How to Have an Eco-Friendly 4th of July

By Johanna Barnowski, Intern

Summer holidays are a great time to celebrate and spend time with family and friends. If you plan on having a party, here are some tips to make your holiday more eco-friendly!

1. Decorations

Backyard barbecues don’t require a lot of decorations, but it’s hard to resist those red, white and blue centerpieces and banners in the $5 and under section at Target. This year, make your own decorations by upcycling!

You can reuse your old k-cups to make a wreath or pop a painted cup over bulbs in a string of lights.

Using living centerpieces is also quick and easy! Pick up a mini tree, wrap the bottom in burlap, tie a ribbon around it and you’ll be set.

Save your decorations for next year or swap with family and friends!

2. Reusable Dishware

It can be easy to pull out the paper plates and plastic cups when you have a large group, but the downside is there are long-lasting consequences for our environment. It is best to use reusable dishes. If you want to use disposable dishware, you can still wash and reuse it at your next party.

Another fun alternative is having your guests bring their own plates! Everyone would be responsible for their own dishes, and the hodge-podge of plates makes it interesting.

3. Use Large Water Containers

We know it’s important to drink water, but it doesn’t have to be out of plastic water bottles! It can be convenient to buy disposable water bottles, but it would save so much waste to use a water jug and reusable cups instead.

Just like with the dishes – guests can bring their own cups!

4. Plan Your Recycling

If you are going to use recyclable dishware, make sure you plan ahead to have a designated recycling bin.  Make sure your bin is clearly marked so your guests know to use it! For information on recycling in the city of Akron click here.

Happy fourth of july Photo.


United Way Day of Action

By Johanna Barnowski, Intern

United Way Day of Action took place on June 21. Through United Way of Summit County, 1,400 volunteers worked on 41 different projects across Summit County. The United Way Day of Action is a way for community members to make a lasting difference and invest in a better future for Greater Akron.

Women hand each other rakes as they work doing mulch

Volunteers working together at Talbot-Whitney Park

Keep Akron Beautiful was able to take a part in two of these projects through the use of our Community Pride Trailer and our Litter and Illegal Dump Cleanup Trailer.

Two women landscaping next to Compass Coffee sign

Volunteers landscaping in front of Compass Coffee at The Well CDC Cleanup Trailer.

Our Litter and Illegal Dump Cleanup Trailer was on site at The Well CDC for “Middlebury Blitz” in the surrounding neighborhood of Middlebury. The Well CDC is dedicated to making Middlebury a thriving community of flourishing people. Middlebury Blitz had a turnout of around 100 volunteers ready to make a difference!

Man pushing wheelbarrow of mulch

Volunteer mulching at The Well CDC

Middlebury Blitz accomplished several different projects such as litter cleanup, landscaping, and building an outdoor stage/patio. These projects will make a lasting difference in Middlebury as they help The Well CDC accomplish their mission.

Men building and half built patio

Patio/stage beginning and progress at The Well CDC

Park sign "city of akron talbot-whitney" park with park in background

Our Community Pride Trailer was on site at The City of Akron Talbot-Whitney Park and East Akron Neighborhood Development Corporation (EANDC). This project had a turnout of around 60 volunteers. They worked hard doing landscaping, mulching, litter cleanup, building benches, painting benches, painting playground equipment, planting flowers, and staining fences.

The volunteers (including kids!) were able to completely transform these areas. These projects will help revitalize and strengthen this community.

Keep Akron Beautiful is thrilled that we could assist United Way of Summit County, The Well CDC, The City of Akron, and EANDC by equipping their volunteers with the tools they needed to make change in these communities. Visit The Well CDC, EANDC, and Talbot-Whitney Park to see all that was accomplished from these two projects during United Way Day of Action!

pile of trash bags and debris at park

people feeding vines into truck to chomp them

KAB Welcomes Summer Intern

By Johanna Barnowski, Communications Intern

In high school, I volunteered with Keep Akron Beautiful on “Super Saturday” during Clean Up Akron Month. I never would have guessed that three years later I would be doing a summer internship with KAB. My name is Johanna. I am a senior at The University of Akron studying Communications focused in Public Relations, with a minor in English. I am a member of the Public Relationship Student Society of America, where I have served as Events Coordinator and New Member Recruiter. I’ll be graduating this coming December. Post-graduation I hope to work for a nonprofit organization with a cause that I care about.

intern Johanna Barnowski sitting

I live in Green and grew up in the Akron area. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. I love seeing more of the world, meeting new people, and trying new things. I especially love trying new food! One of my favorite places I’ve been is Italy, where the pasta changed my life. I’m also very passionate about coffee!

I never expected to end up in the field of Communications. I didn’t know before how many different areas and jobs you can do in this field. I am passionate about advocating for and helping others. This not only includes people, but it also includes places and things – like this Earth! This is something that I am able to do in this field, and even in this internship.

About a week ago, I volunteered with KAB to execute their annual Community Appearance Index. This gave me the opportunity to see some of the sites KAB takes care of, and to see many parts of Akron that I have never been to. Participating in this made me think about how much KAB does for this community, and what the city of Akron would be like without this organization. I’m excited to see what else KAB does, get more involved in this community, and get real-world experience.