Mary Jo Tellin

Keep Grapevine Beautiful executive director

Mary Jo Tellin wants people to know that Keep Grapevine Beautiful is about more than picking up empty bottles or food wrappers on the street.

“We’re heavy into beautification, recycling and then, of course, litter,” said Tellin, executive director since 2009 of the group that is dedicated to maintaining the appearance of the city.

Keep Grapevine Beautiful started more than 20 years ago and has since blossomed into a full-fledged entity that is behind more than 150 projects each year, Tellin said.

The group’s work has received recognition and awards during the last five years, Tellin said. It won $250,000 last March from the Governor’s Community Achievement Award to go toward beautification projects along any Texas Department of Transportation highway in the city, she said.

“The money goes right back into the community,” Tellin said.

Keep Grapevine Beautiful also works with Eagle Scout candidates to complete community projects, Tellin said. The organization helped some two dozen Eagle scouts complete their community project requirements, Tellin said.

“What [Eagle scouts] bring to the city is amazing,” she said.

Maintaining a clean appearance goes beyond simple aesthetics, Tellin said.

“There have been a lot of studies that show in places with litter, people will litter. If there’s a clean area, you keep it clean,” she said.

That clean appearance makes people want to come back to the city, including its parks and other outdoor amenities, she added.

Volunteers also have a strong sense of ownership when they participate in projects such as those hosted by the group, Tellin said.

“A project could be anything, like two people going down to the shore to pick up bottles,” she said. But projects could also involve the group’s regular annual events that are much bigger, such as its EPIC Earth Day Experience on April 5.

The community has responded to Keep Grapevine Beautiful’s mission, with volunteers and man-hours increasing during the past seven years. A total of 2,740 volunteers put in more than 16,000 hours in 2013, up from 995 volunteers donating 2,694 hours in 2007, according to Tellin.

“The people here are volunteers—they’re civic-minded,” she said. “Keep Grapevine Beautiful is an awesome resource for them.”

When one volunteers his or her time to Keep Grapevine Beautiful, Tellin said one can learn its motto fairly quickly.

“Have fun, be safe and get it done, in that order,” she said.

Residents, businesses and groups can register to volunteer online, and Tellin’s list of projects is always growing.

“Nothing stays on this list very long,” she said.

And the community has responded.

Tellin said one her biggest problems is promptly replying to volunteer requests.

“When somebody comes and asks to help you, they have so many charities to choose from. They chose us,” she said. “We have to respond and say thank you.”

While the group does more than pick up litter, Tellin makes sure its goal is a simple one.

“We want to create an environment for citizens that is green and clean,” she said.

How to volunteer

Keep Grapevine Beautiful is always looking for volunteers, Mary Jo Tellin said. To volunteer, visit, or call Tellin at 817-410-3490. The organization matches individuals, families, students, retirees, businesses and community organizations to projects. Timing is flexible, Tellin said. “Volunteers dictate the schedule,” she said. The busiest time of the year for the group is March through June, Tellin said, with about 65 percent of its projects occurring during that span. September through early December also tends to be busy, she said.

Volunteers needed

Don’t Mess With Texas Trash-Off: 8 a.m.—10 a.m. April 5, downtown Grapevine. Volunteers will join to clean up Grapevine’s historic district in this statewide campaign. All ages and skill levels are welcome. Some bending, lifting and walking is required.

Color Up 5K: Starting at 9 a.m., May 10, Meadowmere Park. Volunteers are needed to check in runners and offer other assistance during the race.

Mom-N-Me Tea: shifts from 9 a.m.–noon, noon–3 p.m., 3–6 p.m. and 6–9 p.m. May 10, Mitchell House in Grapevine Botanical Gardens, 411 Ball St. Three volunteers are needed per shift for set up and clean up. Black pants and a white top are required.

EPIC Earth Day Experience

EPIC stands for Engage our community to reduce usage, Preserve and reclaim natural space, Influence purchasing choices and Cultivate a sustainable earth and air quality.

Events include: children’s “plant a tree” zone, a recycle rally, a guest speaker, food trucks and vendors selling eco-friendly products

This year’s guest speaker is CNN Hero of the Year Chad Pregracke, president and founder of Living Lands & Water, a nonprofit river clean-up organization. He will speak at 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

  • April 5 from 8 a.m. —7 p.m.
  • Main Street Grapevine (at the gazebo)
  • Free to the community
  • 3,000 expected attendees


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