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Vocational students grow with the Naperville Park District

Volunteers always have played a key role in the success of the Naperville Park District’s mission. From parent coaches to Santa House elves, volunteers support a variety of Park District programs. 

The role of a volunteer is expanding to include people of all abilities who want to gain valuable work experience while helping with maintenance and other tasks. 

Students from Metea Valley High School help at the Garden Plot gleaning in Oct. 2015

Partnership with High School Vocational Programs

Thanks to a partnership with School Districts 203 and 204, high school students with special needs who are enrolled in the vocational program volunteer regularly at the Park District. During a typical week, 3-5 high school students accompanied by adult coaches spend an hour each day cleaning the classrooms at the Alfred Rubin Riverwalk Community Center or at the Barn. They clean the floors, carpet, tables, chairs and counters.  The environmentally friendly cleaning supplies are safe to use, even if they accidentally are sprayed or spilled on the skin.

Alfred Rubin Riverwalk Community Center

 “In the beginning, the students were shy and unfamiliar with the tasks,” said Marco Vazquez, a staff member who works with the vocational students. “But now they know what to do. They know where the supplies are and the routine, and gradually were able to cut 30 minutes off the time needed to complete the work.”

Craig Maki, manager of the custodial staff, has seen the program grow in the past five years. “The students are gaining independence, confidence and experience,” he said. “We started at the Barn and then were able to expand to the Riverwalk Community Center as well.”

Volunteers in the Parks and Golf Courses

Other volunteers with special needs work outdoors at the Park District, removing invasive plants at Sindt Woods, sweeping the skate park at Frontier Sports Complex, and caring for the flower beds at Naperbrook Golf Course.

District 203 Special Education students help pull garlic mustard at Pioneer Park

Superintendent of Golf Operations Kevin Carlson spoke highly of a young man who helped with a variety of tasks at the golf courses. “He was full of energy and loved keeping busy,” said Carlson. “He planted flowers, weeded beds, filled divots, raked leaves, or cleaned.  He even assisted with our Chamber of Commerce outing, setting up tables and cleaning up, staying until 10 p.m. to help. He also loved golf, so would often play nine holes after he finished working.”

Naperbrook Golf Course

“It’s encouraging to see parents, teachers and park district staff work together to give kids the opportunity to learn valuable skills and gain experience for a future job while also making a difference at the Park District,” said Volunteer Coordinator Lynnette Hoole.

Employment Success Story

Craig Maki is especially excited about the success of one Neuqua Valley High school student with autism who joined his team as a paid, part-time employee earlier this year. The student, Liam Kirstein, cleans several buildings, helping with tasks such as emptying trash and recycling and cleaning table tops. 

“Liam has made great progress in his work and is a valuable member of our staff,” said Maki. “He is friendly and gets along well with his co-workers. I had the privilege of writing a recommendation for him for a residential program at the University of Iowa, and am pleased that he was accepted and will start next year.” 

Part-time employee Liam Kirstein works with recreation support staff Brian Eaton

Future Opportunities

The Park District plans to continue to provide opportunities for teens and adults of all abilities to gain skills and experience, both as volunteers and as employees. As the District grows, new facilities such as the Fort Hill Activity Center will help expand the opportunities for involving interested volunteers and new employees with a range of experience and abilities. 

 


Connect your business’s brand with a well-known and respected one like the Naperville Park District’s and reach a large, active and diverse audience.

To learn more about our sponsorship opportunities contact
Stacey Fontechia Sales and Sponsorship Manager at 630-848-3575 or at sfontechia@napervilleparks.org.

Looking for an opportunity to have a positive impact on people’s lives while building a fun and dynamic career? Consider the Naperville Park District! It takes all kinds of skills, knowledge and talent to serve the recreation needs of the Naperville community. If you’re passionate about the outdoors, staying active, having fun and encouraging others to do the same, then check out our part-time and full-time career opportunities.

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Funds raised through the Naperville Parks Foundation support the Naperville Park District’s Fee Assistance Program. The Naperville Parks Foundation supports the recreation needs and desires of the residents of Naperville – encouraging health and wellness, fitness, family time, and fun. The Foundation supports the mission of making recreation of all kinds accessible to everyone across the community, regardless of socioeconomic circumstances.

On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 Naperville Park District officials heard the good news for which they have been waiting for many months: the District has achieved national accreditation through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

The decision was announced at the NRPA national conference in Atlanta following a formal hearing before the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

Naperville is only the second park district in Illinois to earn this distinction and the 104th nationally accredited agency in the nation; there are more than 10,000 recreation agencies in the United States. The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies accredits a handful of park agencies each year that have completed a multi-step process involving a self-review by the agency, a site visit, and an evaluation and formal report by the Commission.

“We are extremely proud to bring this honor to Naperville,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “It’s an affirmation of our high standards and also an encouragement to continue bringing high quality recreation and parks experiences to our community.”

The Park District’s accreditation process began approximately one year ago and included an extensive self-evaluation by staff and a 5-day visit from CAPRA reviewers this past July. Maintaining the accreditation requires annual reports and 5- and 10-year reviews.

Park District staff members noted that the CAPRA process has helped them see the big picture, focus on long term goals and plans, review plans more regularly, organize documents so that they are accessible and useable, and collaborate more effectively with other departments and outside organizations.

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Our Mission
We provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community.
 
Our Vision
To be a national leader in parks and recreation providing and promoting high quality experiences and facilities at a great value to our community.
 
Core Values
Health and Wellness, Environmental Education, Stewardship and Sustainability, Community Enrichment, Public Safety, Accessibility, Personal Growth and Enrichment.
© 2019 Naperville Park District