Tuesday, November 23, 2010

9th annual People for Parks Awards
Hollywood - Hundreds of park supporters attended the 9th annual People for Parks Awards Ceremony at the Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday, November 9, 2010. The ceremony saluted 6 individuals from the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks for going above and beyond their call of duty.
Here's a list of the City's 2010 Park Heroes:
Andrew Fuerte is a volunteer at East Wilmington Greenbelt Community Center. Andrew is only 12, but has already proven that he is wise and compassionate beyond his years. He once gave his lunch to a younger child who didn't have one, without thinking twice or asking anyone what to do. In 2009, the coaches and parents of the Greenbelt Community Center saluted his dedication by presenting Andrew the basketball league's Sportsmanship Award. Everyone who comes in contact with this Teen Park Hero admires him!
Kenneth Gibbs, Sr. has been a volunteer at Panorama Recreation Center for 10 years. Kenneth led the Park Advisory Board for three years, is an energetic coach, and often fills in as DJ and emcee for special events. When the center recently experienced a shortage of coaches, Kenneth - "Powerman" to his friends - volunteered to coach four basketball teams so participants would not be disappointed. He has also used his cinematic abilities to train teens on the basics of film-making, and has produced two films featuring members of the Panorama Teen Club. Kenneth is a multi-talented and tireless Park Hero!
Martin Cruz is a Recreation Assistant at Normandale Recreation Center. Martin has served in many capacities during 11 years with the Department. He has coached and officiated sports, created programs, and worked with officials and residents to address gang activity, homelessness and other local problems. Martin had even paid registration fees for young people who otherwise would not have been able to participate. This Park Hero is also - literally - a lifesaver! He recently came across a young man who had doused himself in gasoline and was holding a lighter, but was able to convince him that suicide was not the answer!
Ron Dugar has been a Recreation Assistant for the Municipal Sports Section for more than 26 years. Although Ron played softball, he never coordinated a league or umpired a game. As soon as he joined Municipal Sports, though, he saw how his experience as a player could help. Ron learned how to coordinate the league, which now has about 1,000 teams per year, and to officiate, becoming a college official. He eventually became the lead instructor of the section's Umpire Certification Program. Ron also teaches and lectures part-time and full-time employees all over Southern California. Tragically, a few years ago, he suffered a stroke and had to re-learn how to walk and talk. This Park Hero could have retired, but insisted on coming back to what he considers the greatest job on Earth!
Kim Welden & Elaine Piha have worked for Recreation and Parks for more than six years, first as Recreation Assistants, then as Recreation Coordinators, and now as Facility Directors. As part-time employees for the Youth Employment Internship Program, they re-wrote the entire curriculum, retained all the staff and supervised sites. As CLASS Parks Coordinators and as Directors of CLASS sites, Kim and Elaine brought many innovative ideas to their communities, including the hugely successful Princess and Knight Parties. With the help of a dedicated staff and teen volunteers, they transformed their Recreation Center gyms into fantasylands for girls and boys at separate events. They convinced teenagers to dress up and pose for pictures as princesses and knights, and were even able to convince construction employees to build thrones. Kim and Elaine also truly care about their neighbors. A few years ago, they and a small group of co-workers "adopted" a family from each of their Recreation Centers, collected money, and went shopping for the two families. They bought gifts for each member, as well as gifts that could be enjoyed together. These Park Heroines wrapped and delivered all the gifts in time for Christmas - on their own time and with their own money!
CONGRATULATIONS to these inspiring Park Heroes!!!!
Andrea Epstein: (213) 202-2690
Amy A. Garcia: (213) 202-2689

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