City Rec Department plans many events

The City of Chester Rec Department facility across from Wylie Park is relatively quiet most days, but Activity Coordinator Kim Graham says that’s about to change.

Graham, Rec Director Chris White, Rec employee Shelley Watson and Chester City Administrator Sandi Worthy have put their heads together and come up with some activities and events for both the younger crowd and the not-so-younger crowd, hitting both ends of the age spectrum.

The City of Chester and the Rec Department is sponsoring a Cub Scout Pack 68 and Boy Scout Troop 68 at the West End Street Rec facility.

“They’re small groups, they may have five Scouts in each, so they’re trying to build their membership. We recently talked at the Troop Committee meeting and decided both the Troop and Pack are sponsored by the city and we want to partner with them, even though we don’t have a lot of money for activities and programs,” Graham said. The Troop Committee benefits from the expertise of City Councilman Odell Williams, who has many years of Scouting experience. Committee chair is Denise Griggs.

The association with the City of Chester and the Rec Department will allow the Scouts some unique opportunities to be able to do some public service by keeping up the appearance of the parks (including the Born Learning Trail at Wylie Park), taking part in the city’s Christmas in Chester event and when they want to camp out somewhere, they have a ready-made picnic shelter and wooded area right across the street from their ‘Scout hut’ meeting place.

Troop 68 and Pack 68 are led by Kim and Mike Crosby, and the Scouts from both meet on Sundays at the Rec Center from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Later in the year, the Scouts plan a Jamboree at Wylie Park and the fairgrounds in the spring, Graham said.

Graham said the City of Chester is grouping a lot of their programs under the “Chester Cares” umbrella. Kicking off the “Chester Cares” initiative will be the second Annual Coat Drive.

“It’s not just about the coat drive this year, we want to get across to the community that we really do care. We know there are a lot of things going on in the community and there may be some areas where the Rec Department can’t do anything about some of these issues, but when it comes to the warmth ands safety and the well-being and quality of life of the community, those are areas we want to focus on,” Graham said.

The Coat Drive will distribute winter coats for all ages and sizes, hats, gloves, socks and blankets. Some of those items will be distributed to seniors through the Chester County Sheriff’s Office H.O.S.S. (Helping Our Senior Society) program.

Right now, there are three drop-off points for people who want to donate coats, hats, gloves, socks or blankets. One is the Rec Department office, the second is Chester High School, under the direction of the CHS Beta Club and at the Catawba Care office at 177 Columbia St.

Coats and other winter gear will be collected from October 1 through Dec. 3. Distribution details will be worked out and announced at a later date. Last year the drive collected 498 coats.

Another aspect of “Chester Cares” is distributing Team Chester t-shirts. Team Chester is a demonstration of solidarity and as Graham puts it, “showing we’re gearing up for change- that doesn’t mean change is bad, we’re just changing the attitudes and opinions and ideas of what our Recreation Department can be for the City of Chester. We’re asking the citizens to get involved by wearing the t-shirts to Hillarity and on City Pink Day (which is about cancer awareness) on Oct. 24 and at the city Cancer Awareness Breakfast, which is on Oct. 25 at Anna’s Arbor.

Team Chester shirts this year are pink for cancer awareness, Graham said.

On Oct. 7th the first Tuesdays for Tots even will kick off at the Born Learning Trail at Wylie Park. During the event, Graham and Kristin Fairfax from United Way/Success By 6 (who is one of the co-sponsors and originators of the Born Learning Trail) will read stories to the children and do some sort of planned activity.

This will be the start of a focus by the Rec on activities and events for children.

“We will be partnering with Chester County First Steps to do a community engagement project, on Oct. 21. The details are still being worked out on that, but it will be centered around a community literacy initiative,” Graham said.

The plans are for community volunteers to visit the day cares and read to the children, The Rec Department is now looking for volunteer readers for this community event.

The Rec plans a monthly family event at the Rec Department, at which time Success By 6 will give out age-appropriate books to the children.

The senior citizens in the community haven’t been neglected in the event planning either, said Graham.”The senior program will be called ‘Actively Aging’,” she said. Several events are planned for seniors as well.

“During the month of October, Providence Care will begin a once a month Heart Beat class for seniors. On Oct. 6 from 10 to 11 a.m. artist and art instructor Penelope Winslow will conduct a watercolor class for seniors at the Rec center. On October 8th the Rec Center will start a ‘Bring Your Own Bingo Prize’ senior bingo games. The ‘price of admission’ to play the games will be to contribute a prize to the prize tables, which the players will in turn, compete for. On Oct. 22 Providence Care will be the guest callers for the bingo session and will sponsor the senior bingo games, bringing prizes and snacks,” Graham said.

Rec Department employee Shelley Watson came up with a way to get more senior men involved in activities and as a result, the Rec Department will hold a Couple’s Bingo in November.

The increase in Rec Department activities and events is a result of listening to the community and seeing what needs are out there, Graham said. She said City Administrator Sandi Worthy has long seen a need to focus on the seniors in the community and she has been instrumental in helping get some of these events and programs started.

“She sees focusing on our seniors as an investment in our city,” Graham said.

She said the City Rec Department is interested in bringing their programs to churches or other community groups. This is another idea that’s been kicked around by White, Worthy and Graham.

“We want to bring the rec to them,” said Graham.

For more details on any of these Rec Department programs, call 803-581-7429.