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!

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!

Revisiting Dreamscape 2013: Akron Rotary Camp

By: Nalee Vang, Communications Intern

Spring has sprung, which could mean many things here at KAB: clean-up projects, volunteer programs and fundraisers. One event, in particular, involves an ultimate outdoor makeover. For 11 years, the Dreamscape Makeover Raffle has served as our annual fundraiser to support our public land beautification program, Flowerscape. Valued at $10,000, the lucky winner of this raffle receives a front or back yard makeover professionally designed by talented local landscapers.

Dream01In 2013, Ivette Immormino of Rocky River drew the winning ticket but transferred the prize back to the KAB Board of Directors and ultimately to the Akron Rotary Camp at Rex Lake. Running the camp for emotionally and physically challenged children is camp director, Dan Reynolds. At the time, the camp was just finishing up their capital campaign renovations, making it the perfect timing for an outdoor makeover! The gateway at the Akron Rotary Camp

dreamscape 2013went from a grassy, dirt drainage ditch to a large flower bed planted with annuals and perennials, outlined by landscaping rocks to improve the water runoff issue at the camp. Topsoil and compost were donated and blown into the beds and after prepping the two large new planting beds and crews from a canoe rack with lumber were donated by National Industrial Lumber Company. The canoe rack served a larger purpose of freeing up the picnic tables in the pavilion at the camp, which were housing the canoes when not in use. Now, the children can safely put the canoes away and launch the canoes from a new beach the crews added. Lead landscaper was Nick Roth of Nick’s Landscaping of Ohio, LLC, who transformed the camp into a more functional, accessible environment. You can find more details on the makeover here.

Recently, we got in touch with Dan to talk about the Akron Rotary Camp’s Dreamscape experience and what it’s like today:

Nalee Vang: What was your initial reaction after finding out that you won the Dreamscape Makeover?
Dan Reynolds:
We were extremely grateful!  As a grassroots nonprofit in the community, we put most of our resources into serving our kids.

NV: It was really cool to see the transformation in the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures.  What was your favorite part of the makeover?
DR: The best part of our makeover was creating some functional spaces for our campers.  Our new boating area not only looks good but works well too.

NV: How has the makeover changed the Akron Rotary Camp?
The makeover happened at the tail end of our capital campaign renovations. We had some great new indoor spaces for our campers but the area that was made-over was very overgrown.  Now, we look great inside and out!  Most importantly, we have another accessible area at camp where we can work with our campers to help them accomplish something that they never thought they could do or would have the opportunity to do.

Dream02NV: Has there been any challenges keeping up with the renovations?
DR: Most of the areas are low maintenance and have required little TLC.  With the help of volunteers, we are able to mulch and sand our dreamscape design annually.

NV: How was the reaction from the kids and/or staff after revealing the makeover?
Everyone loved it!  Our campers are always so happy to see something new and different at camp. The staff is always grateful when we make accommodations that can help make their jobs easier.

NV: Looking back at the whole process, what are some reflections or thoughts you have that you want to share with us? Were you pleased with the results?
We are very pleased with the results and have identified future areas for the next Dreamscape. I just really want to thank Keep Akron Beautiful and all of the volunteers that made the project possible.  I know it is a big commitment every year to do a yard make-over but it means so much to the property owners and in our case, our campers, staff and camp volunteers.  It’s a shot of self-esteem and pride.

NV: What is some advice for future winners? Would you recommend purchasing a ticket to for the Dreamscape Makeover?
Of course, everyone should buy a ticket for a chance to win – no matter where you live! Advice to future winners: have fun and enjoy the process.  Have an idea for what you want to fix up or change and then let the designers work their magic. It’s a blast!

Dream03It was so much fun to have worked with the Akron Rotary Camp in 2013 on their well-deserved Dreamscape makeover. Here at KAB, we are thrilled to see the kids enjoying camp after the big transformation! Remember, this could be you!

Buy your tickets to enter the drawing for your very own Dreamscape makeover NOW!