When Jennifer Jehn became president and CEO of Keep America Beautiful in January, she got a very important phone call during her first hour on the job.
The caller was a woman who paved the way for me, Jehn told attendees of an awards banquet Wednesday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission and to honor founder Carolyn Crayton and the organizations many volunteers.
Jehn said the call from Crayton meant a lot, given Craytons contributions on the local, state and national levels.
Together, we will continue to keep America beautiful, Jehn said.
Crayton herself was honored by a proclamation from Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert, who declared Wednesday as Carolyn Crayton Day in the city. Reichert also presented keys to the city to Jehn and Gretchen Corbin, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
Crayton recalled the formation of Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful, when she attended a conference in New York for Keep America Beautiful in 1973. In January 1974, she approached the leadership of Macon and Bibb County, which jointly approved extending an invitation to the then-president of Keep America Beautiful.
Macon immediately became the first Georgia city to establish its own Keep Beautiful Commission and became a test site for Keep America Beautifuls Clean Community System.
Crayton thanked those in attendance for their contributions to Keep Macon-Bibb Beautifuls efforts.
Im overwhelmed looking out and seeing all of you, she said, later adding, We all realize our work must continue.
Several of the speakers noted Craytons influence. Mark Stevens, chairman of the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission, said Crayton is a woman everyone always says yes to when she asks for help.
Corbin said Macon has been a model community for beautification efforts, specifically the work of the commission and the International Cherry Blossom Festival, which Crayton co-founded in 1982.
When Carolyn speaks, we all listen, Corbin said, adding that Crayton also serves on the board of the Department of Community Affairs. Her leadership has not only been in Macon, but also with the entire state office.
Current Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful President and CEO Pam Carswell said its important to recognize the contributions of volunteers.
Were a nonprofit organization. If we didnt have the volunteers for our beautification projects, we could not work, she said, noting such efforts as organizations adopting different parts of Macon to keep clean.
Among the 26 awards presented Wednesday were the Carolyn Crayton Award, presented to Mark Stevens, and the William A. Fickling Sr. Award, presented to Bill Underwood.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.