Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s leading nonprofit that builds clean, green and beautiful communities, and Waste Management (NYSE:WM) announced that Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, the Niagara County Chapter of NYSARC, was awarded a Waste Management Think Green® Grant of $5,000. The Agency’s Think Green® Grant is one of 39 awarded to Keep America Beautiful community-based affiliates and partner organizations across the country.
The Waste Management Think Green® Grants are part of the environmental services company’s commitment to encourage the development and sustainability of environmental solutions that improve a community’s environment. The merit-based grant program supports projects that are implemented to address local community needs.
Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara used the Think Green® Grant to create a handicapped accessible observation deck on the Kimberly Woodruff Memorial Nature Trail at the Agency’s location, 2510 Niagara Falls Boulevard in Wheatfield. The deck floats so as not to disturb the wetlands. Varieties of birds, deer and other woodland animals are easily visible to visitors on the deck. Additional in-kind funding for the project was provided by the builder, Stan Swogier of Swogier Construction. The trail is fully handicapped accessible and open to the public.
“We are humbled by the huge philanthropic effort over the last twenty years put forth by individuals, social and garden clubs, organizations, and area businesses, to raise the funds to create the nature trail and the addition of a wonderful new greenhouse to ensure that horticulture therapy and vocational training will be offered to the people we support now and for years to come,” remarked Kellie Spychalski, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara.
Bob Bracikowski, the agency’s greenhouse coordinator, is always seeking ways to enhance the experience of all visitors to the nature trail and an accessible observation deck is a crowning achievement,” observed Peter Drew, Associate Executive Director of Day, Employment and Supportive Services for Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara.
“The horticultural therapy program at Opportunities Unlimited is outstanding and a personal favorite of mine,” said Lori Caso, Public Affairs Manager and Spokesperson for Waste Management. “I was happy to nominate it for a Think Green Grant. When I stood on the observation deck, I was amazed at what a tranquil spot they had created.”
The Agency’s horticulture therapy program is vital to improving the body, mind and spirit of individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. Individuals with developmental disabilities must be enrolled in one of the agency’s day habilitation programs to be eligible to participate in the horticulture program which encompasses a working greenhouse, gardens and nature trail.
“We are proud to be amongst the longest running horticulture therapy programs for people with developmental disabilities in New York State. As such, it has always been my goal to expand the programming we offer our individuals. I deeply appreciate the efforts of Keep America Beautiful and Waste Management to ensure that this program will expand the opportunities for people with disabilities and the community,” commented Bob Bracikowski, Greenhouse Coordinator, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara.
2015 is the ninth year Waste Management and Keep America Beautiful have collaborated on community-based grant initiatives. During that time, Waste Management and Keep America Beautiful have awarded more than $1.3 million in grant monies to affiliates and partners in support of more than 205 community service projects and programs.
Lori Caso, Public Affairs Manager and Spokesperson for Waste Management, enjoys the view from the new deck. Inset photo — Caso joins builder Stan Swogier, Sindia and Michael – greenhouse volunteers, and Bob Bracikowski on the deck.
About Keep America Beautiful
Keep America Beautiful is the nation’s leading nonprofit that brings people together to build and sustain vibrant communities. With a national network of community-based affiliates, we work with millions of volunteers who take action in their communities to transform public spaces into beautiful places. Through our programs and public-private partnerships, we engage individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their community’s environment. Waste Management has supported Keep America Beautiful programs for many years, including as a sponsor of America Recycles Day and the Keep America Beautiful/Ad Council public service advertising campaign – “I Want To Be Recycled.”To learn how you can donate or take action, visit kab.org. Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, view us on YouTube.
About Waste Management
Waste Management, Inc., based in Houston, Texas, is the leading provider of comprehensive waste management services in North America. Through its subsidiaries, the company provides collection, transfer, recycling and resource recovery, and disposal services. It is also a leading developer, operator and owner of landfill gas-to-energy facilities in the United States. The company’s customers include residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal customers throughout North America. To learn more information about Waste Management, visit www.wm.com or www.thinkgreen.com.