Environmental Service with a Side of Smiles

Article Author: 

Kay Shanda, CAC AmeriCorps Member 2017-2018

Keep Sevier Beautiful (KSB) has been providing me with smiles and laughter since the day I stepped into the office to start my AmeriCorps year with them as their Program Coordinator. For starters, the office I stepped into was not going to be our office for long, which caused a lot of craziness. Within the first month of serving with KSB, their entire office moved into a new building across town and my organization skills were put to the test immediately with the sudden influx of boxes with unknown items inside.

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It was an entertaining process going through each box and determining where everything should go in our new space. It made the start of my service year very exciting and definitely created good friendships with the other staff members.

Halfway through the move, I had a quintessential moment when I realized that I would truly love serving at KSB. Several family friendly KSB events were coming up and we wanted to send out flyers to every student in the county to help advertise. The advertising idea was great, but we did not consider in the beginning how much counting and sorting flyers that would take. So the Executive Director and I sat on the floor in our yet-to-be-furnished new office and sat for several hours counting and sorting flyers. While that may have been one of the more mundane tasks I have done with KSB it has been one of my favorite moments so far. The Executive Director and I felt like we were slightly losing our minds staring at the mountains of flyers, but suddenly we just started laughing at the ridiculous situation we had put ourselves in. We laughed so hard that we cried and I knew that if I could find enjoyment at KSB with such a simple task, that the larger tasks would be even better, which has proven to be true.

Continuously I was impressed with not only the quantity of work that KSB does for Sevier County, but also the quality. Every event and project that we work on makes such a strong positive impact in the community. I knew I had finally showcased that impact 22308592_1738482239495827_4967467060701986241_nwhen helping out with the KSB Halloween Costume Swap event. People from across the county donate gently used Halloween costumes throughout the fall and in return earn a voucher for a  new-to-you costume that can be exchanged at the event with the goal of reducing and reusing throughout the county. On the day of the event we laid out all of the donated costumes and I saw countless children finding their perfect costumes, except for one girl that could not find anything her size. I could see the disappointment in her eyes and was struck with a level of determination that I’m sure bridal consultants understand well. I had to find her the perfect costume. Under a pile of costumes still in packages, I was able to find a witch costume that looked like it would fit her. While crossing my fingers, I asked her to try it on and to everyone’s delight, it fit her perfectly and she ran off grinning to show the rest of her family. It was only a small gesture on my part, but I was thrilled to know that the little girl as well as the other children at the event would have a wonderful time trick or treating.23376297_1769727126371338_8043750443923863600_n

Since then I have helped out with some amazing projects such as the Wears Valley Fall Fest, the Light the Way 5K, various plantings, litter pick up events and leading the Teen Advisory Board (TAB). Each project has environmental component, since part of KSB’s mission is to dedicate themselves to litter prevention, beautification, recycling, and education, which is what drew me to this organization in the first place, but I have remained loving my work with KSB for a greater reason. Throughout my time so far, the consistent theme that I have witnessed are the positive changes KSB has made paired with smiles and laughter from not only the staff, but also the volunteers we work with, the community we are a part of, and even from myself. KSB has taught me about the importance of incorporating joy and happiness into the service I do not only for the 21032759_1697832503560801_8708529205940637723_npersonal benefit, but also for the community, which is a lesson I will try to implement in all of my future projects.

I have been smiling and loving the environmental service I have done at KSB since day one, which has motivated me to stay here for another year. I am looking forward to my future opportunities with KSB to make an environmental impact and I will always appreciate the lessons they have taught me and will continue to teach me while we work on making changes throughout our community.

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This blog post is a collection of personal reflections and expressions. All opinions represented are those of the author and do not represent the official opinion or views of the Knoxville – Knox County Community Action Committee, CAC AmeriCorps or any other party referenced.