When the newly reformed Keep Victoria Beautiful hosted its first highway cleanup last year, about 80 community members came out to lend a hand. Our recent Earth Day cleanup was over 240 strong, and I have a feeling they’re only going to get bigger.
It’s no surprise that the program has grown so much. When I started with Keep Victoria Beautiful back in March 2021, Victoria was just beginning to emerge from the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic. People were eager to come together and reach out to their neighbors. This willingness to help is what makes Victoria beautiful, and KVB provides an outlet for residents to help each other, their local neighborhoods and the broader Victoria community.
Our residents’ natural desire to work together can be felt especially at our neighborhood cleanups. These cleanups often serve as a rallying point as generosity flows into and through the neighborhood, with residents helping their neighbors and learning about resources from our community partners.
Our monthly business beautification awards are another reflection of our community’s enthusiasm for growing and flourishing together. Local business owners who take good care of their own properties play an important role in making Victoria a more beautiful place to live. Award winners are chosen from community nominations, and we’ve noticed that business owners feel a sense of pride and appreciation for being recognized.
To encourage even more beautification projects, KVB recently launched a beautification grant program. The program is generously funded by private donations, with initial funding coming from the Victoria Chamber Ambassadors, H-E-B and LyondellBasell. We plan to announce our first round of grant recipients soon, and we look forward to seeing the projects that will be made possible with just a little help.
Sometimes, all KVB needs to do is bring together people. Earlier this year, I noticed we were getting a lot of calls from people who were interested in starting community gardens. I decided to convene a meeting so that all of these people could talk to each other and share resources. This initial meeting developed into a new collaborative program called Grow Victoria, with residents helping each other to imagine, start and support community gardens around Victoria.
I often hear from residents who aren’t able to attend cleanups but would still like to help in some way. For these people, we have created a new KVB membership program. It will be up and running on our website soon, and residents will be able to make a one-time online donation or pay a small membership fee to be formally recognized as supporters of KVB events and initiatives.
Our next cleanups will be the citywide Fall Sweep on Sept. 24 and a neighborhood cleanup in the north part of Silver City on Nov. 12.
If these dates don’t work for your group, you can pick your own day. KVB will provide you with all supplies and a location that needs attention, and then we will arrange for pickup of any bags and large debris.
To join our volunteer list, donate, nominate a business for a beautification award or apply for a beautification grant, visit www.victoriatx.gov/kvb.
If you are interested in cleaning up a location or helping with a particular initiative, please reach out to me at 361-485-3235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christy Youker is the community appearance manager for the City of Victoria.