Mansfield Neil Rhein didn’t start out trying to create an organization to clean up Mansfield. He just wanted to try to clean up Mansfield, and slowly but surely, the Keep Mansfield Beautiful organization sprouted up like a weed.
The group became official in September of 2008. It started out with Rhein driving around town and complaining to his wife.
“She got tired of hearing me complain and said well why don’t you do something about it?” he said.
He approached the town manager at the time, which was John D’Agostino, with the idea of forming a committee to look at the litter situation and other ideas for cleaning up and beautifying the town. D’Agostino put Rhein in touch with John Holiver, and they formed the Mansfield Beautification Committee, which later became Keep Mansfield Beautiful. He and Holiver formed the committee with the Mansfield Department of Public Works, D’Agostino, Jay Barrows and other individuals to start the first Great American Cleanup of Mansfield (Great Mansfield Cleanup).
“We were hoping to get 200 people that first year,” he said. “We probably had more than 700.”
From that, Rhein realized that he was one person of many in Mansfield who wanted to keep the town clean and looking good. He started a standing committee of nine Mansfield volunteers, which was approved by the selectmen.
“One of our first goals was to become an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, which is a national organization,” he said. “It’s the largest community service organization in the country. In September of 2009, we officially became Keep Mansfield Beautiful. That’s how we wanted to brand ourselves to the public. The Mansfield Beautification Committee sounded to official, too bureaucratic.”
The group is now currently organizing the fifth annual Great Mansfield Cleanup. Last year, 750 volunteers came out and did their part.
KMB has also organized the Trash Can Be Beautiful campaign, in which town trash barrels were painted to give waste receptacles a more pleasant look. They also work in the downtown area, buying trash barrels and benches, with funds donated by Covidien.
“That was kind of our first non-litter project,” Rhein said. “But we’ve done a ton of other stuff since then.”
Other KMB projects included the Downtown Flowerpots campaign, the Route 106 Mural, Adopt a Spot, the recent Mansfield Green renovation and the Litter Busters.
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