After moving to Venice in 2008, Judith Keeler noticed a group of volunteers regularly working in John Nolen Park, near her new home. Intrigued, she inquired about the group and learned about Venice Area Beautification Inc., a nonprofit organization created 20 years ago with the goal of making the Venice area a more beautiful place to live, work and play.
“It seemed like such a neat idea,” she says. “There was a huge part of that park not being used. They told me to come down to one of their meetings, and I did. I started to see people using the park more — parents with their kids, people like my father. I realized what an asset this organization is to the health and well-being of this community.”
The organization was founded 20 years ago to garner volunteers to help complete a landscaping project along U.S. 41. Since then, the organization has grown to include an average of 25 regular volunteers, including Keeler, who says she was hooked from the beginning.
Now president of the nonprofit organization, she enjoys the variety of projects she is able to work on, all of which help beautify her city. Over the years, with the help of volunteers and partnerships with organizations such as the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Venice Area Beautification Inc. has completed projects including the Venetian Waterway Park, West Blalock Park and Arboretum, as well as public art installations and other improvement projects.
“I enjoy working with and meeting people who share that spirit of volunteerism that makes this community special. I think it gives people a sense of accomplishment when they’ve completed whatever their assignment is, and you can see the immediate results of your work,” Keeler said.
To learn more, visit Gulf Coast Gives.
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