Looking Back At 2021 With Gratitude

By: Leigh Patterson

Happy New Year, everyone!  The year 2021 was another wild ride wasn’t it?! As society was trying to recover from the effects of the pandemic, we used phrases like “new normal” and mastered the art of zoom calls as people continued to work from home, trying to just make do in this weird new world.

Even though 2021 was far from normal, I am very pleased to report that KALB had a great year, and was able to accomplish many good things in our community despite the pandemic. The main reason we were able to do so much is because we had an outpouring of community support, without which we would have accomplished little to nothing.

One of the areas where we saw so much growth last year was in our cleanup efforts. There were at least ten cleanup events throughout the year that KALB either hosted or supported. Nearly 600 volunteers total were actively engaged at these events, and over 75,000 lbs. of litter and debris were removed from roadsides, public lands, and waterways in Athens and Limestone County. We are truly grateful for all of the volunteers and partnerships who helped to make these cleanup efforts successful.

In March of 2021, we hosted our second Household Hazardous Waste Collection event in Limestone County. This event gave residents another chance to dispose of household chemicals, old paint, fluorescent bulbs, fertilizers, gasoline, and more in a safe way, keeping these items out of the landfill and our waterways. We appreciate everyone who worked together to make this event possible, including the Limestone County Commission, City of Athens, and the Huntsville Solid Waste Disposal Authority.

KALB was thrilled to bring back our Earth Day and Outdoor EXPO in 2021, after having to cancel it in 2020. Big Spring Memorial Park was filled with vendors and exhibitors who showcased earth friendly products, handmade items, or educated the public about various environmental topics. Steve Trash, an eco-magician, performed three shows, and taught about the importance of recycling while interacting with the audience in a fun way. We are thankful to the Limestone County Water and Sewer Authority for their sponsorship to bring Steve to Earth Day! Limestone Pediatric Dentistry sponsored a petting zoo for the event as well. A great time was had by all!

We also partnered with the Athens-Limestone County Public Library and held a Pollinator Day program, focusing on the importance of pollinators and native plants. Part of the program was held in the new Library Gardens, where KALB had a part in providing some of the native plants in the pollinator garden through funding from Keep Alabama Beautiful/Toyota.

Through the Limestone County 4-H program, KALB was able to get back into the classroom this fall! We went into the 5th and 6th grade classes in the county schools and played Environmental Jeopardy with each class. The students had a good time, and hopefully learned a few things too.

By the end of 2021, the Athens-Limestone Recycling Center (part of KALB) was able to bring back recycling to a mostly normal state again, and for this we are truly grateful. For residents living in the county, our recycling center is the only means that they have to recycle, and we appreciate the continued support of those residents that utilize the center and the community collection trailers.

We are also very thankful for those that supported our fundraising efforts last year through sponsorships, membership, donations, or volunteering. Being a non-profit, we rely on these fundraising events to keep us going. Without community support, we could not continue to do what we do, which is helping to keep our city and county a cleaner, greener, and more beautiful place to live, work, and play.

We look forward to 2022, as we already have events on our calendar. Be on the lookout for what is coming up in the new year, including another Household Hazardous Waste Collection, River Cleanup, Earth Day, and more! Please visit KALBcares.com for more information on our upcoming events, projects, and programs.

By: Leigh Patterson

Executive Coordinator – Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful