Community leader takes matters in her own hands

Kathy Griffee, president of the North Amber Meadows Homeowners Association, prunes a bed of flowers and grass at a neighborhood park on a recent morning. 

Staff photo by Graham Cullen

When Kathy Griffee wants something done, she said she does it herself.

That's why, for the last 10 years or so, her neighbors in Amber Meadows have watched as she mowed and weeded foreclosed properties, planted flowers and stained benches in neighborhood common areas, painted parking spaces, cleaned up trash corrals, and spoke out at city meetings.

Her voice and volunteerism have benefited the entire city, said Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak.

"I wish we had a ton more people like her," Kuzemchak said.

Griffee's actions to combat such problems boost property values and pride in ownership, Kuzemchak said.

Griffee has lived in Amber Meadows for 34 years. She became president of the North Amber Meadows Homeowners Association's board of directors about 10 years ago, a title she still holds. She is also one of the founding members of the city's Neighborhood Advisory Council 3.

Griffee has helped the city address gang and drug activity, code enforcement issues, blighted and overcrowded properties, and oversized vehicle parking, said Beth Conny, a NAC 3 coordinator.

In the last 10 years, on average her homeowners association of 109 town houses has had about 20 foreclosures at a time. Griffee and other neighbors make a point of maintaining the properties, to keep the neighborhood looking good.

Griffee's energy seems bottomless, Conny said.

"She is just all heart and all energy," Conny said.

Griffee said she does not seek praise in her actions, especially since so many of her neighbors help out as well. She said she has faced a lot of flak for trying to enforce rules in her community.

"I joke that I need Kevlar and a helmet walking to work," she said.

She said she keeps at it because she takes pride and ownership in her neighborhood.

One of Griffee's first projects was the trash corrals.

When the association had the corrals, she said people would throw trash over the corral wall and miss the cans, attracting all kinds of critters.

"I would go out with my rubber gloves on and pick it up," she said.

The association was paying about $200 monthly to maintain and clean the corrals, and yet they were still causing problems.

Griffee said some of her neighbors may still be mad at her about her decision to get rid of the corrals.

Of all the issues she fights for, Griffee is most passionate about solving issues that come when homeowners rent out their properties.

Griffee said she still believes residents who rent their property should be required to register with the city.

They would need to provide basic contact information at the time, so the city would know whom to contact for safety issues and code violations, she said.

"It protects our property values. It makes it look nice," she said.

You can tell Griffee cares about her community, Conny said.

"If it weren't for her, heading the HOA and keeping it alive, I don't know what would happen to her area and all around that neighborhood," Conny said.

Follow Jen Fifield on Twitter: @JenAFifield.

Know of a person who would make a good Slice? If so, please send your suggestions to citydesk@newspost.com or call us at 301-662-1178 and ask for a city editor.

(4) comments

mwjr58

I lived in this community for 7 years and was blessed by all of Kathy's efforts. A well deserved article about a wonderful lady[smile]

Dwasserba

She's right about registering rental properties.
We maintained a yard of a house for sale whose owners moved out of state, then it was "lease to own," problematic, but we never lost contact so had an avenue to communicate about the status of their property as it went thru a couple tenants. Gotta have registry.

kimberlymellon

[beam]

Cowell

Hat tip Ms. Griffee!

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