In my job I get to hang out with some pretty neat people. Particularly, volunteer leaders, who are not only neat, but who work to make their neighborhoods neat. They make their neighborhoods the best they can be.
At Keep Liberty Beautiful, we try to support these neighborhoods and their forward-thinking leaders by providing a program to support their efforts. This Keep Liberty Beautiful program — NEAT Neighborhoods — acknowledges their efforts and can provide supplies, tools and recognition for their projects.
If you are interested in improving your neighborhood and you have never met Shevelva Beard, it is the first thing you need to do. Ms. Shevelva recruited her neighbors a few years ago to start a neighborhood improvement effort in Forest Lake Estates. The Forest Lake neighbors do neighborhood-wide cleanups. They also do regular planting projects and entrance improvements. They are proud of their neighborhood and are trying to keep it clean, attractive and safe. The word "safe" may not seem to fit with "clean and attractive," but research referred to as the "broken windows theory" supports the theory that more often than not clean and well maintained neighborhoods are safer with fewer incidents of vandalism and other crimes than neighborhoods that are run down.
There are many other neighborhood leaders in our county who make those changes where they live. Maria Fragosa in Pine Ridge and Karen Bell in Lexington are two other longtime neighborhood leaders. Manuella Keel faithfully cleans up the pond next to her neighborhood each week and has identified illegal dumps in nearby woods. Patricia Nash in Timber Ridge and also Kathy Poole in Oak Hampton are leaders in their neighborhoods.
Hinesville City Councilwoman Vicky Nelson has taken the lead in two neighborhoods in her district and Councilwoman Diana Reid is leading an effort to improve Freedom Court. Pearl Axson volunteered as soon as she moved back to her hometown of Riceboro to be improve the community.
There are also men, like Earl White on Barry McCaffrey Parkway area, who work to keep the streets and areas around them clean.
These are just a few of the true community leaders that are making a difference yard by yard and neighborhood by neighborhood.
The NEAT Neighborhoods provides support and recognition to these neighborhoods.
N — They never take the appearance of their neighborhood for granted.
E — They encourage homeowners to take pride in their yards, roads, and entries to their community.
A — They always keep their yards and streets clean.
T — They tell everyone that they care about where they live.
Wouldn’t we all prefer to live in a NEAT Neighborhood? The program recognizes neighborhoods’ projects each quarter.
We provide an entry sign that highlights a project for a quarter. It is a small gesture, but one that, I hope, encourages all who enter the neighborhood to help keep it attractive. We can also loaning supplies and equipment and, at times, resources for improvement projects.
You can join in activities where you live or start an improvement effort in your neighborhood. Every neighborhood needs that one person who will step up and encourage others to take ownership of their community. Our goal is have as many neighborhoods as possible participate in community improvement efforts.
We all seem to take better care of things when we assume ownership. It seems to be the same for communities, for roads and streets, and for neighborhoods. When we take ownership of public areas, surprisingly, everyone seems to respect those areas and to treat them better.
Like I said, neighborhoods that are taken care are of are not only cleaner, but statistically have less vandalism and other crimes. That is an excellent reason all by itself to step up and make a difference.
Any neighborhood interested in holding a cleanup or an improvement day can give us a call at 912-880-4888 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org when you begin planning a project. A beautiful community is waiting for you to make it happen.