A number of Keep America Beautiful affiliates partner with major league and minor league sports franchises. Keep America Beautiful affiliate Keep Columbus Beautiful (KCB), for example, has long-standing partnerships with its local NHL franchise, the Columbus Blue Jackets, as well as MSL’s Columbus Crew SC.
The Blue Jackets opened its 2016 season with a 6-3 loss on Oct. 13 to the Boston Bruins. But the Blue Jackets’ staff and season ticket holders had a big win when they participated in the Columbus Blue Jackets Beautification Day, its annual service project with KCB organizing the event.
The 2016 project was a very special effort, according to Sheri Palmer, KCB’s program manager, because “Miss Marie,” a long-time resident and community leader of the American Addition was the beneficiary of the Blue Jackets’ help.
With its origins dating back to 1914, African-Americans from the South often migrated to the American Addition.
“The American Addition is one of Columbus’ oldest African-American communities – somewhat set in its own world. For many years, it was not connected to city facilities and services,” Palmer said.
“Miss Marie” – Marie Moreland – runs a community center within the Addition on the city’s North Side and has strived to teach local youth gardening and pride. She singlehandedly developed the American Addition Community Garden with wood structures, a gazebo, stage, trellis, stone pavers, and more. This was all accomplished with donations and grants.
Unfortunately, over a two-year span, Moreland lost her husband and sister, and suffered a heart attack. The upkeep of the green space got away from her. The physical structures needed painting and the weeds started to take over.
But thanks to the Blue Jackets and other KCB volunteers, the park was transformed back to the beautiful space it was in the past.
“No one can ever do something that we have done. No one person. It takes the whole community,” said Moreland.
“The Columbus Blue Jackets and their volunteers worked hard and felt great about their efforts,” Palmer said. “And they all fell in love with Miss Marie, who was overwhelmed by their help. Columbus is about us. That’s why we have the ‘us’ in Columbus.”
Listen to Marie Moreland and Sherri Palmer talk about their experience here.