KIC turns 30
Boxes of cards fill the KIC office, waiting to be sorted by volunteers.

Courtesy photo

KIC turns 30

Story By: LIZ FINNEGAN
2/21/2019


ISLIP TOWN—There’s now a whole generation that cannot remember their local schools and neighborhoods before there was Keep Islip Clean. The iconic environmental organization has changed the landscape of Islip Town in a very positive way. And now that KIC is 30, there’s a lot to celebrate.

“We’re in the process of planning a ceremony,” said KIC executive director Nancy Cochran. “It will be one that represents what we’re all about.”

KIC began back in 1989 in the wake of the Islip garbage barge debacle. Though supported in part by Islip Town, it is in fact a separate entity that’s affiliated with the national organization Keep America Beautiful. They receive assistance through government and corporate grants and individual donors. KIC’s mission is pretty basic: they propose to clean up litter, promote recycling, add to the beauty of all 18 hamlets within the town and spread awareness about the importance of a litter-free environment through educational programs and various projects that are all upheld by volunteers.

Cochran said that the 6,000 volunteers who donate their time to work with KIC every year do so by participating in the numerous KIC-organized cleanups that begin in the spring, and many others take on the task throughout the year with the Adopt-A-Spot program, which they assume the responsibility of maintaining.

“There are a lot of young people doing school and community service,” Cochran noted. “There are scouts and civic organizations that do it, too.

“It runs the gamut of age groups, with families, schools and even corporations getting involved, too.”

Junior commissioners that come from the various districts within the town participate in a number of ways, such as taking on environmental projects. One of them, the Greeting Card Recycling project, has been in effect a number of years and is currently underway. It involves collecting the decorative front flap of a greeting card that is eventually sent to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children in Nevada to be remade into new cards. Though the collection is now complete, volunteers will begin sorting and preparing the cards to be shipped.

The high school commissioners also have taken on the project called Evolve, which involves collecting used ink cartridges. “It’s also a little fundraiser,” Cochran said. The funds garnered from the program last year were used to build a raised garden at Brookwood Hall for handicap gardeners interested in participating in Project Bloom. “It was heartwarming,” she added. “I was so proud of the kids. And Project Bloom has exploded,” noted Cochran. “We grow 7,000 plants every year.” The plants are used to beautify public gardens around the town.

In addition to increased participation in the popular KIC programs, Cochran, who has been with the organization for the past 13 years, said KIC is doing more with education.

This year, a grant through the company, Nature’s Bounty, has helped KIC to kick-start their educational programs. “Through the grant, I was able to buy and distribute to schools for free a professional-level curriculum for early learning,” said Cochran.  “It’s all good stuff.”

Nancy Donohue, KIC chairperson, said in the two-plus decades she’s been involved with KIC she’s seen less litter and graffiti around the town and an overall improvement in the way people view their community.

“KIC has been a vital part of many communities that strive to make theirs a better place to live,” she said.

The next monthly KIC meeting is being held tonight, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. at Brookwood Hall. All are welcome to attend. For more information about KIC programs, call (631) 224-2627 or go to the website www.keepislipclean.org.