On the way to keeping Yazoo beautifulBy CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,
Yazoo City is one step closer to becoming a more beautiful place to live thanks to the local volunteer organization, Keep Yazoo City Beautiful.
Organized in 2016 by the city of Yazoo City, Keep Yazoo City Beautiful is a local chapter of Keep Mississippi Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful.
Currently heading the organization is Director Sheila Trimm-Young, who together with the Yazoo City Street Department, is making an impact on keeping local streets free from litter, while also promoting other beautification projects around town.
"Our simple goal is to have citizens care for pride of place," said Trimm-Young. "If they are positive about where they live, they are going to keep it clean, and their children are going to keep it clean."
Keep Yazoo City Beautiful came about several years ago, when local senior citizens in the Lee Street area of Yazoo City started making regular efforts to clean up their neighborhood. Since then, clean-up efforts have been taking place all over Yazoo City as volunteers tackle problem areas in each Ward.
Working with the street department, members of Keep Yazoo City Beautiful and other volunteers tour specific areas around town in each ward, and vote on the areas that are most in need.
Trimm-Young said that Keep Yazoo City Beautiful currently hosts two Community Clean-Up days per year, where volunteers can show up and work in a specific area of town.
"Twice a year we clean up," she said. "Once in April, and then again in October. It's always on the third Saturday. We meet at the Boys and Girls Club and we work from 8 a.m. until Noon."
Citizens of Yazoo City do not have to wait until these clean-up days, however, if they want to make a difference at their school or neighborhood.
Trimm-Young said that people need only to call her and let her know they are planning a clean-up effort, and she will be glad to meet them.
"Feel free to call me or Danny Miller at the Yazoo City Street Department," she said. "We will provide you with bags if you need them, as well as gloves, and trash pickers."
Trimm-Young said that over the last couple of years that they have received a great deal of support and partnerships on clean-up days from groups such as Beulah Land Missionary Baptist Church, Tulane M.B. Church, New King Solomon M.B. Church, as well as students from the Yazoo City High School Girls softball and basketball teams.
She also said that other groups and organizations have hosted youth cleanup days, including Hillcrest Baptist Church and Parkview Church of God.
"When I saw that Hillcrest bus pull up with 33 kids to help me clean for a few hours, it brought tears to my eyes because I was so joyful," said Trimm-Young.
Some of this year's projects for Keep Yazoo City Beautiful include a Youth of the Month, a Yard of the Month, and also 4x4 Neighborhood Cleanup Days.
"We focus on the children from January until June, because they are in school already and have that extra energy to get out and get involved in the community," Trimm-Young said. "We do everything from just going around planting flowerbeds to cleaning up a street or around a store."
Keep Yazoo City Beautiful also documents service hours accumulated by students who need them to graduate high school or to apply for college scholarships.
"On Clean-up days, I keep a sign-in sheet of student information and the name of their school,: said Trimm-Young. "Once the clean-up day is over, I fill out the certificate and turn in the forms directly to the schools so that the kids can get credit for the hours they completed.
Keep Yazoo City Beautiful chooses a Yard of the Month between the period of July through December as a way to motivate residents in different streets to clean up their yards.
"We go into different neighborhoods that need that extra incentive to clean up," said Trimm-Young. "I find one yard and talk to the homeowner who has kept their yard clean, and they get to keep the sign in their yard for one month, and we take a photo. It's an incentive for someone else to get up and clean their yard as well."
She also added that Keep Yazoo City Beautiful encouraged people in the city to do 4x4 Neighborhood Clean-up days on their own streets, focusing on at least the first four blocks within their surrounding neighborhood.
"I would like to see all neighborhoods do it," Trimm-Young said. "It's not impossible. We have got enough churches, and we have enough kids to implement this in every neighborhood that we have. We just need to get up and get out there."
In the future, Trimm-Young said that Keep Yazoo City Beautiful would like to work directly with the Alderman in each ward to target problem areas, enabling more citizens to take part in cleaning up Yazoo City and making it a better place for everyone.
"The benefit is better schools, better neighborhoods," she said. "It's a better chance of people coming into Yazoo and buying homes on your street and opening more stores, because they see that we care enough to keep it clean."
In the years since Keep Yazoo City Beautiful was organized, they have been awarded several grants to fund projects, and have also receive certificates for attending leadership seminars and training to improve the local chapter.
In 2016, Keep Yazoo City won the President's Circle Recognition Award from Keep America Beautiful, for achieving standards in excellence in their community projects.
Keep Yazoo City Beautiful is also funded by sponsors and donations from local residents and businesses. Funds for this 501c3 organization are governed by the City of Yazoo City and all donations received are documented accordingly.
"If anyone or any local businesses would like to sponsor Keep Yazoo City Beautiful, we would be very appreciative," Trimm-Young said. "We are most in need of clean-up supplies such as rakes, bags, gloves, vests, and trash pickers."
For more information about Keep Yazoo City Beautiful, or to donate, sponsor, or set up a clean-up day, please call Director Sheila Trimm-Young at 662-590-8148, or visit the Keep Yazoo City Beautiful Facebook page.