Gillette’s streets are clean from litter, in large part because of the efforts from residents who brave Wyoming’s weather to pick up trash and organize cleanups.
Now those efforts will be backed up by the national organization “Keep America Beautiful.”
In February, the city started the process of becoming a chapter affiliate for the national program, and in two weeks, it will have achieved that status.
The “Keep Gillette Beautiful” chapter will have its final certification training and entrance reception at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Gillette College Technical Education Center. At that time, Gillette will be the second community in Wyoming — after Casper — to join some 604 affiliate communities in 42 states across the nation in a pledge to keep the community beautiful.
After the City Council gave its thumbs up for city Sustainability Coordinator Michael Foote to move forward in February, the city paid out a one-time fee of $3,000 to get started, which essentially paid to bring a trainer to Gillette twice. To maintain its membership in the organization, the city will need to pay a $200 annual membership fee. That is a fairly nominal amount when considering the opportunities that open for grant money.
Once Gillette obtains an affiliate status, it will become more competitive in grant applications offered through the national organization.
The grant applications of non-affiliates of the Keep America Beautiful program get shuffled toward the bottom of the pile, while affiliates sit on the top.
A natural progression
Becoming a chapter affiliate of the national program has been a long process.
“We’ve been working for a while to establish a Keep America Beautiful here in Gillette,” Foote said. “Once we had the council’s blessing, we were able to get to work and accomplish all of our tasks this summer.” The chapter is run through the city, with Foote as the acting program manager. But he’s joined in the committee with several city employees, along with interested community members.
A chapter essentially would organize those efforts and formalize the volunteer process. It would give the city a mechanism for people to provide community service, which in turn, would increase volunteers because people would have something to rally around and get involved.
As part of the certification process, the committee had a training session with a trainer from the national organization on June 7. They learned how to create a network of volunteers and work with other local volunteer groups, Foote said.
The second part of that volunteer management training will happen Nov. 14, which will be the benchmark that truly launches Gillette into a functional affiliate chapter, he added. If people want to participate in that training session, they need to register with Foote.
The training allowed Foote and the committee to meet people and representatives of groups who the committee can reach out to when volunteers are needed. It’s about developing a stronger volunteer base, which it’s doing with the help of Serve Wyoming, Foote said.
“It’s really for our community to learn how best to work with volunteers,” he added. “It’s a win-win.”
As relationships are developed with volunteer groups, then a network of volunteers is formed who can combat dirty streets or any number of other challenges that can face the city and its outlying areas.
Becoming a Keep America Beautiful affiliate was a natural progression for Gillette because it already had a strong volunteer mentality and established programs that advocate citywide cleanups and recycling.
“We actually felt like we were doing pretty good. There’s always room for improvement, but we were doing pretty good,” Foote said
After working throughout the summer, the committee submitted its proposals to the national organization on how it plans to proceed with Gillette’s programs.
“It was somewhat intense, but also flowed very well,” he said. “Everybody stepped up and did their part. We had so much in place already, it was just a matter of looking for an opportunity of putting it under one umbrella.”