Stephanie Rzonca usually finds herself serving the community as Community Development Director for the Town of Rutherfordton, a Farmers Market volunteer, and as the Executive Director for the Main Street Program in downtown Rutherfordton. Rzonca is a graduate of Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainable Development, making her committed to serving both the current and future generations of the county. She has been involved with organizations established to support local families and communities from a young age, and her passion for helping others and the local environment has moved with her from Fayetteville, NC to her new home in Rutherford County, NC.
"Improving the quality of life for citizens and making a difference in my community, whatever form that may take, is important" Rzonca said. "There is an innate sense of doing whatever I can to make the community better within me."
Rzonca was one more than 650 volunteers who participated in Keep RC Beautiful's Spring Litter Sweep during the month of April. She has only been in Rutherfordton for a year, so having an organization to support gave her a way to get involved with a team and become more familiar with the area.
"I had an avenue to support the local area with Keep Rutherford County Beautiful," Rzonca said.
As an town employee, Rzonca already had a passion for keeping the local area clean. Her co-workers helped fuel the desire to work alongside Keep Rutherford County Beautiful under the team name "Minty Fresh." Her team consisted of Town Manager Doug Barrick, Town Clerk Mara Short, Finance Director Sonya Outling, and police officers Clint Ingle and Joey Holland.
"Working for the municipality means that we all care about the town," Rzonca said. "As a staff, we care about the community and it really matters to us."
The group cleaned areas along Cleghorn Street, Court Street, Elm Street, and Collett Street in Rutherfordton. The group contributed to the overall total of seven tons of trash collected in the county.
Getting involved with Keep Rutherford County Beautiful prompted Rzonca to look for litter on her own time, and she plans to participate in more clean-ups in the future.
"I plan to be more directly involved with the group to encourage others to get personally and professionally involved in keeping the area clean," Rzonca said. "Now I pick up trash on my routine walks because I started to take notice of the litter around me."
Going forward, Rzonca hopes that events like the Spring Litter Sweep prompt more involvement from residents. The large turn-out for the sweep makes Rzonca hopeful for the future, and she wants everyone to stop thinking of themselves as bystanders to litter.
"It is beneficial for everyone to see themselves as a participant in the community," Rzonca said. "No man is an island; everything that we do has a direct impact on others."
If you found this story inspiring, join the movement for a cleaner, more beautiful Rutherford County. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and empower our citizens to take action every day to improve and beautify their community. Find us on Facebook @KeepRCNCBeautiful, or email us at KeepRCNCBeautiful@rutherfordcountync.gov.