Monday, September 20, 2021

Celebrating National Senior Center Month at the Southlake Senior Activity Center

It’s all about our Southlake Seniors this September, as the Senior Activity Center prepares to provide a month-long celebration to our beloved members!

September is National Senior Center Month, and the Southlake Activity Center is ready to celebrate our 55 and better community! National Senior Center Month provides an opportunity to showcase senior centers and promote a positive image of aging. This year is a time of reflection and of looking forward, always staying mindful of the present. To start the celebrations, the Senior Center is introducing “Thursdays in Memory Lane.”

Join us as we celebrate history at the Southlake Senior Activity Center by reminiscing and revisiting the bygone decades. Thursdays in Memory Lane will be held each Thursday from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm at the Senior Center. Drinks, snacks, and fun surprises will be available! Travel through time as we explore the themes of the GI Generation, The Silent Generation, The Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the turn of the Millennium. Each week features a new 20-year time span. This program is free, but pre-registration is required.

Seniors also have the opportunity to continue learning through our signature Learn then Lunch program. This month’s seminars include Updates on Skin Cancer and Non-Surgical Cures by Hopkins Dermatology and Life Planning Seminar by Dignity Memorial. Learn all about aging skin and how to take care of it, and about pre-planning funerals, cremation, and cemetery property.

Don’t forget about our recurring activities such as Art Class, Duplicate Bridge, and Knitting Club. No matter what your interests are, there is a place for you at the Senior Activity Center!

There’s always something exciting at the Senior Activity Center, and we look forward to continuing to celebrate our members. This month, and every month, we are grateful to provide life-long memories to the Southlake Senior community.

Happy National Senior Center Month!

Meet Oscar, Club Metro Lead and GOAT

Club Metro is back for Fall! We have several weeks of outstanding adaptive recreation opportunities and a world-class staff leading the way!

Club Metro is Southlake’s premier Adaptive Recreation program. Focused on inclusivity and fun, Club Metro provides recreation and leisure opportunities to people of all abilities. Everyone knows that Club Metro is one of the best programs in Southlake, and that’s largely thanks to our world-class Club Metro Lead, Oscar Rodriguez.

Oscar exhibits a quiet kind of leadership. He is very calm and always has everyone’s best interest at heart. Oscar has been a Lead at Club Metro for the last ten years and teaches special education full-time during the school year. A servant-leader at heart, Oscar knows the importance of Adaptive Recreation. He always incorporates his exemplarily social skills, contagious happiness, and earnest collaboration when interacting with Club Metro participants and staff. Oscar makes sure that everyone feels included and has a seat at the table.

Oscar is also in charge of running Club Metro activities—a duty he executes with kindness and grace. If a Game Night is going on, Oscar teaches participants how to play and then joins in on the fun. Oscar is a mentor and a friend through and through. He never misses a chance to teach participants about the meaning of friendship, respecting others, and having fun.

His mentorship extends beyond Club Metro participants and onto the staff. Oscar always gives staff opportunities to grow and create positive relationships with participants. Fellow staff members feel comfortable reaching out to him for guidance on personal and professional matters. Oscar aims to make sure everyone feels safe in the Club Metro environment.

Here’s what Oscar has to say about being a Club Metro Lead:

What do you like best about Club Metro?
What I love most about Club Metro are the participants. I love seeing them grow and enjoy being there. You can tell that they want to come back the following week.

When I first started with Club Metro, we only had 12 participants. Now we have over 60! Every day is a highlight: their smiles, their stories. I like making them feel like movie stars every day because Club Metro is truly about them.

I like to focus on soft skills like communication, social techniques, and daily living skills. It’s critical to practice those every day. That’s what keeps me in the program. Some of the people I work with started the program as teenagers, and now they are successful adults in their 30s!

I love seeing them become independent, and we do various things around DFW, especially before COVID. When Club Metro has an outing, the focus is on safety and fun. We go to restaurants, the movies, the library, and it’s all about learning independence and having the freedom to be themselves.

What is one of your proudest achievements?
I love this question because it’s not about me, it’s about the participants. My achievements are their achievements. They are successful young adults, and that’s very rewarding.

I wish I could measure success tangibly, but it comes down to how they feel daily. Every day is different, but the best part is taking something negative and turning it into a positive. We practice sharing personal experiences and talking about what they have going on in their lives. Self-advocacy is key. We also do various sports like baseball and basketball—that’s what recreation is all about! Therapeutic Recreation is about learning real-life skills, and the recreational part is about having fun.

How did you know you wanted to go into Adaptive Recreation?
I started this career 30 years ago as a Special Education teacher. That experience made me want to continue working with this community and help kids with their individual educational needs. I also have a lot of after-school recreational experience. I used to coach sports, referee, and play!

There’s a real need for Adaptive Recreation in sports, and being a teacher taught me the special needs aspects of it. Therapeutic Recreation combines both of my passions into one!

I also really love working with my fellow staff members. Everyone puts their all into making this program successful, and I enjoy watching them grow. In the future, there will be many people just like me, and they will have the skills needed to work with this population.

In the words of Programs Coordinator Gretchen Morgan, “Oscar is literally the GOAT: Greatest of All Time!”

Club Metro would not be the success it is without Oscar. Get to know him at the next Club Metro meeting starting on September 13! Register here.

Our Parks and Recreation Story: The Faces of Southlake Programs

Park and Recreation Month may officially be over, but it’s never too late to celebrate the world-class programming team behind all your favorite community activities.

Let’s get to know them a little better as they share Our Parks and Recreation Story:

Hannah Nyquist, Programs Coordinator

This summer, we hosted our third Cross Timbers Nature Camp at the Bob Jones Nature Center! When I started in 2019, I spent my first day learning the ropes of camp. Two years later and Nature Camp has grown in so many ways. We have a steady following of return campers that we have seen grow over the years and got to know dozens of families. This summer, I was thrilled to have a team of experienced counselors- including our beloved Camp Director, Madeleine Mott. We expanded Nature Camp from a concept to a family, and I am incredibly proud to be a part of that. Together we were able to serve over 200 campers!

Hiking to Grapevine Lake, having weekly presenters teach our campers, and watching staff blossom into remarkable counselors are some of my favorite memories this summer. We also have the pleasure and responsibility to share the importance of stewardship with our campers, along with the Jones Family’s remarkable story.

This summer, we added Forest Preschool classes outside of our fall and spring semesters. I served as Lead Teacher for these classes and taught alongside our incredibly gifted and passionate preschool teachers. Our Friday Forest Preschool days meant hours playing outside, hiking, and exploring with almost 100 preschoolers. We focused on different animals who live at BJNCP, the word “habitat,” and how important it is to respect nature.

Gretchen Morgan, Programs Coordinator

I started as a counselor in 2019. Summer Camp Mania changed my life for the greater good in various ways. I learned to be a listener, role model, creator, achiever, and leader. I got to enhance my skills through special events and programs. In 2020, I applied to become a full-time employee. This year, I received the full-time position of Programs Coordinator. I could not be prouder and more honored to step into this role for the City of Southlake.

This summer, Camp Mania was located at Durham Intermediate School. Games, crafts, and activities filled each day. Some days guests would come to share their talents with our campers. These guests were from the City of Southlake Fire Department, Airbrush Tattoos, Kona Ice, and Martial Arts. On Thursdays, we would explore Bicentennial Park and swim in our Aquatics Center at The Marq. We take each moment we have with each camper to impact them positively.

We also manage our Club Metro program located at Legend’s Hall. Club Metro is an adaptive recreation program that welcomes adults with special needs. These participants come twice a week to socialize, eat, and have fun. Some activities we do are scavenger hunts, basketball tournaments, and crafts. We also meet once a month every Saturday for Sports Saturday. This program gives the participants a chance to learn volleyball, basketball, dodgeball while moving their bodies and learning new skills.

Overall, our programs create a place to learn about a sport, play a game, and socialize. They also provide a safe and fun environment for participants to learn, grow, and become their amazing selves.

Madeleine Mott, Camp Director

I love when people ask me what I do for a living because I get to answer in so many unexpected and fun ways. For example, I hike for a living, am a mad scientist, am an entomologist. I mass-produce future tree huggers, make a lasting difference in children’s lives, and am a snake charmer. I play games all day, am a medic, a forest preschool teacher, a butterfly whisperer. I am an edible plants taster, a steward, an artist. I am a nature camp director.

Working at the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve, I have the opportunity to wear so many different hats. I love our programs, their participants, and the enthusiastic individuals I get to work with every day. I enjoy how working for the Programs Division allows me to explore this beautiful preserve and teach future generations how to love and take care of it and its inhabitants. At the BJNCP, I truly live out the “Life is Good” motto. “Do what you like, like what you do.”

Emma Blight, Camp Director

The Programs Division creates a space for people of all ages to learn, grow, and connect with our staff and other participants. While working in our programs, I have built relationships and made memories that will last a long time. From programs such as Camp Mania, Club Metro, to Breakfast with Santa, one of my favorite things we do is provide hands-on experiences for everyone involved. Whether that is playing against the Southlake DPS in a game of dodgeball at Camp Mania, or getting to play with a baby kangaroo at Club Metro, the experiences we provide are truly exciting.

Courtney Duplechin, Programs Supervisor

This team never ceases to amaze me. I am so proud of each person who has contributed to the success of the Programs Team! My favorite part of Programs is that each team member is so incredibly passionate about what we do. Whether they are playing games with kids or planning the next big event, this talented team thinks through every detail and how it connects people to nature, friends, family, new hobbies, the community, creativity, and more! Everyone is willing to go the extra mile to give our participants a special moment to remember.

I started working for Southlake Parks and Recreation in 2015 as a Camp Mania counselor. A favorite part of my job is seeing kids who were once campers or volunteers in my group grow up to volunteer or work for the Programs team. It is so special, even though it confirms I’m getting old, to know that we are making an impact in a child’s life and that years later, they want to join the team to do the same for others.

We love what we do, give our all to providing exciting and educational programs, and care deeply for the people we serve.

Thank you to the Programs Team for being so committed to creating life-long memories for the Southlake community!

Our Park and Recreation Story: The Athletics Dream Team

July is National Park and Recreation Month. There are many stories to tell about the professionals that dedicate their career to creating life-long memories for your families.

Today, we are featuring the dream team that oversees Athletics here at the City of Southlake. If you have ever signed up for an Athletics program in Southlake, then you’ve benefitted from the work of Leigh Blake and Chelsea Cherry!

Leigh and Chelsea manage the athletics programs you love, such as BaseballTots, Basketball Skills Academy, and the athletic leagues. They share a passion for sports, bringing our community together, and creating world-class experiences for Southlake’s young athletes.

Athletics is a staple division in many Parks and Recreation departments across the country. Not only does participating in athletics promote physical wellness, but communities that value sports are safer, healthier, and more socially bonded than passive communities. For many children, municipality athletic leagues and camps are the first contact they have with sports. That’s why Leigh and Chelsea take their job so seriously. Let’s get to know them a little better.

My Park and Recreation Story: Leigh Blake, Athletics Supervisor
I’m originally from Tennessee and grew up playing soccer and softball. I won a state championship in soccer and was a state champion bowler in high school. I moved to Texas four years ago to pursue a career in athletics. I have worked in various roles and sports, including USA Baseball, junior golf, campus, and community recreation.

The best part of my job is watching kids have fun and learn life lessons playing sports. One of my favorite memories at work comes from my time in junior golf. We hosted a tournament at TPC Sawgrass, and I selected the hole location for our event on the famous island green there!

My Park and Recreation Story: Chelsea Cherry, Athletics Coordinator
I’m from a small town in East Texas. I moved to DFW to attend Dallas Baptist University, where I graduated with a Master’s in Sports Management. I grew up around sports, specifically football, everything shuts down on Friday nights in a small town for the HS football game, and baseball, (my little sister was a collegiate softball player). My true love of sports came from competitive cheerleading.

I started tumbling classes when I was five years old, but I was a shy kid. I didn’t get the courage to join my gym’s cheer team until I was 15. In those few years that I competed, I got to experience winning multiple state and national championships. I also learned how to be confident, come out of my shell, be a part of a team, deal with wins and losses, and many other critical life skills that come with sports. This is what drew me into a career in athletics!

My favorite part of my job is working with our staff to help them learn skills and build character traits that will carry them far beyond their time with the City. The best memories at work are always on the first game night of each season. All the stress, hard work, time, and effort spent preparing come together to create an environment full of excitement and fun for the kids and families!

Thank you, Leigh and Chelsea, for being a part of our winning Park and Recreation Team!

Our Park and Recreation Story: Recreation Specialist Kat Dye

Southlake Senior Activity Center Members will tell you that a trip to the SAC is guaranteed to be a world-class experience.

At the Senior Center, we pride ourselves on providing our seniors with top-notch services every day. From offering innovative social programs and weekly luncheons to interactive group fitness classes, we aim to help Southlake seniors make life-long memories. If you are a Senior Center member, then you’ve met Recreation Specialist Kat Dye.

Kat joined the Senior Activity Center as a part-time Recreation Specialist in August 2019 and soon became a full-time employee. She graduated from Texas Woman’s University in 2018. Kat likes to be active and enjoys participating in group exercise classes at Champions Club. Her all-time favorite activity, however, is spending time with her adorable six-year-old son. As the face of the Senior Center’s front desk Guest Services, Kat’s responsibility includes selling and renewing memberships, registering senior members for programs, and assisting the Senior Services Coordinator, Soheila Phelps, with program planning and implementation.

Kat is always ready to greet guests with a smile and help seniors make the most of their Senior Center membership. Alongside Soheila Phelps, Kat is part of the dynamic duo that makes the Southlake SAC a special place.

When asked about her favorite aspects of her job, Kat replied, “what I love most about my job is hearing history from our seniors’ unique perspectives and being able to learn from their life experiences. The ability to serve our seniors and help provide a world-class experience for this community is the most fulfilling job I could possibly imagine.”

When asked about a favorite memory at the Senior Center, Kat shared that “I can’t say I have a favorite memory at the Senior Activity Center. Every day that I get to come to work here is a dream come true!”

We are so glad to have Kat at the Southlake Senior Activity Center. Her contributions to our department make up a crucial part of Our Park and Recreation Story.

We love taking the time to tell our stories as we continue to play a role in your own Park and Recreation Story this Park and Recreation Month!

Celebrate Park and Recreation Month this July

The City of Southlake Community Services Department celebrates Park and Recreation Month this July by telling “Our Park and Recreation Story.”

The United States has celebrated July as the nation’s official Park and Recreation Month since 1985. The City of Southlake is proud to follow that tradition. Just this week, Mayor Huffman proclaimed July as Park and Recreation Month in Southlake. This month highlights the vital and powerful role local park and recreation professionals play in building more vibrant, and more resilient communities across the country.

It’s no secret that access to public parks and recreational activities is vital to a healthy and thriving community. In Southlake, we are proud to have more than 1,000 acres of parkland and hundreds of programs and activities for all residents to participate in each year. We strive to be the premier recreation destination for our residents. It’s what keeps us motivated to go to work every day.

When you visit one of our parks, The Marq, or participate in one of our programs, our goal is to create life-long memories for you and your family. Everything we do is for you! When you give us your time, we do everything we can to create a world-class experience for you.

This month we celebrate all the stories that make up our park and recreation history. We honor everything we have accomplished—from the staff who work hard to bring you world-class services, to the amenities and programs our department offers.

Follow our Experience Southlake Facebook Page to see pictures and hear stories about our team. We will also be sharing staff highlights on My Southlake News this month, so stay up-to-date with all our articles as we share Our Park and Recreation Story.

Celebrate Park and Recreation month by exploring a new park, visiting Champions Club, or signing up for one of our world-class programs. There is always something exciting to do in Southlake, and that’s reason enough to celebrate this month and beyond!

Meet Your MODs- John Michael Reyes

Every club has its lingo and set of acronyms to describe its culture as an organization. At Champions Club, the acronym MOD gets tossed around a lot.

The MODs, or Managers on Duty, are here to answer your questions, assist you with anything, and make your experience at Champions Club memorable. You’ve seen them walking around in their slick black polos and official walkie-talkies. They greet you with a smile when you walk in and are genuinely interested in how your day is going. But who are these all-knowledgeable guest services coordinators?

We’re giving Champions Club members the inside scoop on the MODs with this short series. The first MOD we’re introducing is the early bird responsible for making sure Champions Club is ready to go for your pre-work workout. This week’s featured MOD is John Michael Reyes!

Tell us about yourself
My name is John Michael and I’m a UNT graduate.

What are your hobbies and what do you like to do in your free time?
My hobbies include any form of physical exercise such as Racquetball, Tennis, biking, running, or golf.

What is your favorite thing to do at Champions Club?
My favorite thing to do at Champions Club is enjoy the sunrise from the outdoor turf.

What do you like most about being a MOD?
The thing I like most about being a MOD is helping members experience Champions Club to its full potential.

What would you say to someone considering a Champions Club membership?
The community here is second to none. From staff to members, the camaraderie here is near impossible to replicate anywhere else. You will enjoy every visit to Champions Club.

John Michael is just one of the world-class staff members that help make the Champions Club experience truly unique. Next time you stop by Champions Club, make sure to say hello to John Michael!