This is Not a Goodbye, But a “See You Soon”

By: Nalee Vang, Communications Intern

When I was a little girl in the 4th grade, I attended Glover Elementary school in Akron, OH. I was only 10 years old at the time, and I’m going to be honest here and say that I don’t remember much of my 4th grade years, except for a few memories here and there. One of those very memorable moments was when Pam Ray, Education Specialist at Keep Akron Beautiful, came to my class and presented on the topic of Arbor Day, a national holiday that celebrates tree-planting. We learned so much about how to take care of trees and the different types of trees in local areas all around us.

I distinctly remember the day I brought home my little seedling. I was so excited to plant it in my very own backyard. As soon as I got home from school that day, I didn’t wait for anyone to help me. Instead, I ran outside to my backyard, dug up a hole and set my seedling in place, making sure to pack the soil tightly around it. As I stood up, covered in dirt, a smile grew on my face. I was so proud of that little seedling and I thought to myself, “One day, it’ll be the biggest, baddest tree there ever was!” The very next morning, my little seedling tipped over from the heavy wind the night before. I was devastated.

Jacqui, myself, Helen, Pam, Cindy & Elaine on my last day at KAB.

Jacqui, myself, Helen, Pam, Cindy & Elaine on my last day at KAB.

Fast forward some 14 years later and here I am, writing this blog post from the KAB office itself. I have been the Communications Intern for KAB since January 2015 and, with what feels like the blink of an eye, today is my last day. From the very beginning, I was welcomed in with open arms. Jacqui Flaherty-Ricchiuti, CEO, immediately showed me the ropes and from there, I wrote blog posts, handled the social media and the monthly newsletter with help and supervision from Helen Dauka, Communications and Volunteer Coordinator, and Cindy Pantea, Communications and Office Manager. I am so glad that I was given such big responsibilities from day one because it has given me the chance to learn and grow as a person. Not one day was wasted and I even had the opportunity to tag along with Pam on one of her classroom presentations! It was incredible to hear the Arbor Day presentation and having the chance to re-live the moment when I heard about KAB for the very first time.

Now, I have to be honest (again). I was never really the recycling type and I’m ashamed to say that I was quite the litter bug, but after being a part of the KAB team, I have been so inspired by the volunteers who take the time out of their day to clean our neighborhoods, parks and the community. Also, all the hard work and energy that the KAB staff spends on every project and program is truly amazing. After everything that I have learned here, from great work ethics to litter prevention, I have been inspired to work just as hard as the KAB staff and volunteers to prevent littering and recycle items in an effort to keep Akron beautiful!

I am so grateful for the opportunity to have interned here. Not only have I learned how to reach our volunteers and community members through social media and content, but I have also adapted eco-friendly ways that will help make a positive impact on the natural environment. As I go about my last day here at KAB, I can only strive to be as hard working and inspirational as the KAB staff and hope that my efforts as an intern have helped the organization as much as they have helped me.

Thank you, KAB, for being so kind and welcoming during my time here!
I’ve had the best time being a part of the team!
I’ll miss you all so much!

P.S. – I was able to receive another seedling, Thanks to Pam.
Here’s to hoping this seedling will grow!

Revisiting Dreamscape 2014: Steve Williams and David Jesse

By: Nalee vang, Communications Intern

In our last “Revisiting” blog post, we had the opportunity to follow up with the 2013 Dreamscape winner, the Akron Rotary Camp. Don’t miss out on that blog post; read it now!

In 2014, lucky homeowners, Steve Williams and David Jesse, won the Dreamscape raffle, which allows the winner to have the landscape makeover of their dreams worth over $10,000! Craig Graf and Lisa Graf of Graf Growers Garden Center and Landscaping were the lead landscapers. Many renovations were done including planting trees and flowers, light fixtures and installation of a maintenance-free fence and a pergola. For details of the whole process, read “Dreamscape Makeover Provided Finishing Touches to West Akron Home“.


The results were amazing, and seeing the transformation through photos really showed how much work was put into this Dreamscape makeover. We wondered how Steve and David have been keeping up with their exciting change, so we did some catching up of our own with Steve:

Nalee Vang: What was your initial reaction after finding out that you won the Dreamscape Makeover?
Steve Williams: Well, first, [was] shocked.  We absolutely never thought we would be the winners! Then, our thoughts turned into what we would change in our yard now that we had the chance.

NV: The transformation in the ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture was beautiful. What was your favorite part of the makeover?  
SW: Working with Grafs to design the space and then watching the transformation unfold. It was amazing to watch the craftsmanship that the crew from each firm brought to the project.

KAB-Dreamscape-DrawingNV: How has the makeover changed your home?  
SW: We now have this amazing outdoor living space. We spend more time outside, when the weather permits, relaxing, enjoying the space and entertaining.

NV: Has there been any challenges keeping up with the renovations?  
SW: Well, once the renovation was underway, we realized we would need furniture for the space as well!  Thankfully, we found some wonderful pieces that give it the feel of an outdoor living room, which complimented our existing patio area perfectly.

NV: Looking back at the whole process, what are some reflections or thoughts you have that you want to share with us?
SW: The staff of Keep Akron Beautiful were wonderful and did a very good job of keeping us informed about what would happen along the way.

NV: Were you pleased with the results?
SW: Absolutely!  We could not be more pleased with the outcome.

NV: What is some advice for future winners?
SW: Be prepared for A LOT of change in a very short time!  It can seem overwhelming at times, but hang in there, because the end result is SO worth it!

NV: Would you recommend purchasing a ticket for the Dreamscape Makeover?
SW: Most certainly.  By purchasing a ticket, you help continue the excellent work being done to beautify our community at Keep Akron Beautiful.  Winning was just a bonus!


The Dreamscape Makeover Raffle is Keep Akron Beautiful’s annual fundraiser that was developed 12 years ago to help support our public land beautification program, Flowerscape. We are so happy that Steve and David enjoyed their Dreamscape experience with us! Now, you have a chance to win your very own Dreamscape Makeover too! Purchase a ticket now!

Food Waste: Ways to Reduce & Eliminate the Problem

“Food waste is an incredible and absurd issue for the world today.”
Jose Lopez, Nestle’s head of operations.

By: Nalee Vang, Communications Intern

According to the World Food Day Website, 40 percent of food grown or raise in the United States and roughly a third of the food produced worldwide never gets eaten. Even more surprising, one in six Ohioans is food insecure, yet in Ohio, agriculture employs one in seven. How could that be? Food waste has become one of the biggest problems here in the U.S., and it remains an issue that warrants our undivided attention.


The Waldt family of New Jersey, avid gardeners and composters, are surrounded by groceries representing the 1.2 million calories the average family leaves uneaten every year—more than enough to feed another mouth. The food was later donated to a nonprofit. PHOTOGRAPH BY ROBERT CLARK, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC


Courtesy of


There is some degree of measurable food waste in every step of food production. In the field, weather, overproduction, market uncertainty, and consumer demand for the “perfect” fruit or vegetable on display all contribute to food waste. Perishable food often bruises, decays or is damaged during shipping, packaging or storage. From there, food continues to be wasted at the retail market level where it goes unpurchased or is mishandled. Then there is the consumer, often the biggest wasters of food in the home.

WE are the biggest contributors, but WE also have the power and potential to eliminate food waste by practicing a more sustainable life. What can you do at home, on the farm, in your school or community to reduce food waste?

Learn, track, share, engage. Begin with making a decision to reduce your personal food waste. Track your habits related to food with a journal to see trends and how you can develop solutions and implement change. Share your information with friends, family and community members and raise awareness.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Look for ways to reduce food waste in other places like your home, farm, backyard, garden, school or community. Feed leftover vegetable and fruit scraps to backyard poultry or recycle by composting. On the farm, practice grazing management strategies that make use of ruminant (four stomachs) animals that are able to process forages that we monogastrics (one stomach) cannot.

Plan meals. Take an hour of your time each week and plan a weekly menu. Make your weekly grocery and farmers market shopping list and only purchase what you will eat. Shop and buy locally or regionally. Considering preserving or freezing garden extras to use at a later date when not in season.

Volunteer or donate. Through actively volunteering for your cause, you will gain valuable knowledge first-hand experience about the food waste challenges faced by community organizations in your area. Also check out local food banks, pantries and hunger organizations, food donation stations and centers. They work had to reduce food waste and redistribute safe and edible food to populations in need.

Familiarize yourself. Learn more about “hot topics” related to food waste and be more educated in these issues. To learn is to know and to know is help solve the issues.


Courtesy of


Where Can I Recycle My Hazardous Household Waste?

By: Nalee Vang, Communications Intern

HHWBanner*image courtesy of

When it comes to recycling, it is important to know what items are considered hazardous household waste (HHW). The fact of the matter is, we are using a lot of items in our household that fall into that category and we might not even know it! Thankfully, Summit ReWorks has all the information you need and we want to share it with you!

Not recycling HHW can be harmful to the environment and anyone who comes into contact with it. “Certain types of HHW have the potential to cause physical injury to sanitation workers, contaminate septic tanks or wastewater treatment systems if poured down drains or toilets, and present hazards to children and pets if left around the house.” When you recycle HHW, it also conserves resources and energy that would be spent producing more products.

For Summit County residents only, Summit ReWorks provides a safe and convenient option for recycling any hazardous waste. The HHW Recycling Center (HHWRC) will be open from 2 PM – 8 PM during the months of June – September, so gather up any HHW you may have around the house and be prepared to drop them off!

Accepted HHW materials fall into these categories:


Courtesy of

Automotive Fluids
Paint & Related
Household Cleaners
Lawn & Garden
Garage & Workshops
Scrap Tires
Beauty Products
For detailed items under these categories, make sure you visit the Summit ReWorks’ HHW page.

Products such as nail polish remover, window cleaners, bug spray and glue are all common household items that are used in our everyday lives. Can you believe that these products are considered HHW? Proper disposal of HHW can really make a difference in your community and in your home, so do your part and recycle your HHW!