Submitted by Keep Pickens Beautiful
The Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation (KGBF) will honor Vered Kleinberger with a Carolyn Crayton Volunteer of the Year Award this spring. The nonprofit will present the distinction at its annual affiliate conference on Jekyll Island on May 7.
Each year, KGBF celebrates individuals, groups, and organizations that exemplify efforts to protect the state’s environment through litter prevention, waste reduction, recycling, and beautification. The Carolyn Crayton Volunteer of the Year Award, named in honor of Georgia’s first affiliate leader, recognizes a passionate individual who has dedicated an extraordinary amount of time and effort to improving the local environment.
Kleinberger has served on the Board of Directors for Keep Pickens Beautiful (KPB) for 15 years. In that time, she has worked on various projects and initiatives to help reduce litter in our community and beautify our county. In 2020, she accepted the position of board president, and immediately began rebuilding the foundation of the organization. Since 2020, Kleinberger has volunteered more than 900 hours per year to revitalize KPB. Under her leadership, KPB has:
•Expanded office hours so they are open five days per week from 11-3 and have hired an incredible and dedicated staff.
•Developed databases to manage the Adopt-A-Road program enabling adopters to report and track their cleanup efforts from their digital devices.
•Developed databases to manage KPB memberships and community supporters.
•Adopted the Edible Pickens program from a group of residents that began the project in 2011 to functionally beautify the community with foodscaped gardens. These enhance the environment and help address food insecurity by providing free food while educating residents about how to grow their own food.
•Rebuilt the website and expanded all marketing efforts to both inform residents about KPB’s activities while also increasing engagement to build community.
•Increased the number of free, hands-on educational and volunteer opportunities sponsored by KPB throughout the year.
•Received a grant from Keep America Beautiful for the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program to install cigarette receptacles throughout the county – in 2023, more than 8,000 cigarette and cigar butts were collected and sent for recycling, and 400 portable car ‘butt buckets’ have been distributed.
•Grew KPB’s social media presence through informative and engaging posts – the Facebook group grew by 700% and Instagram was recently added and already has more than 250 followers.
“I have stayed involved with KPB all these years because I always saw the potential for what it could do for our community. The organization is built on a solid foundation thanks to all the dedicated volunteers who came before me, and I’m proud to help bring it to the next generation. KPB has the ability to work with every person, household, business, and organization since everyone can benefit from waste reduction, recycling, beautification, and education. I’m proud of what our board of directors and staff have accomplished and I’m honored to be a part of this incredible little organization,” Kleinberger said.
Kleinberger was chosen for the Carolyn Crayton Volunteer of the Year Award following a local nomination process and the recommendations of a team of representatives from multiple environmental agencies. In total, nine individuals or organizations were selected in unique categories.