Share The Love
Share the Love is a special feature project that highlights District residents who are actively making their own lives better through Rec & Park activities, parks and events. Each resident shares his/her Rec & Park experience and what it means to them. The idea is to illuminate different types of recreational offerings we have available to inspire you, connect you with others, learn something new and stay healthy and active. We want you to find your own WOW! Rec & Park experiences!
If you'd like to share your own meaningful recreational experiences, please contact Jennifer Thoits,
Marketing & Communications Manager.
We'd love to hear from you!
Hamdine is an extraordinary child. Early on, he was diagnosed with high-functioning autism and has faced many challenges in his young life. Fatima, his Mom, has been a tireless advocate to ensure the needs of her son are met and more importantly, that he is given an equal opportunity to thrive. That has not been an easy process. Finding the best possible environment for her son was paramount and this is where Rec & Park comes in.
Hamdine has been going to Rec & Park’s KIDSTOP after-school program at Gregory Gardens Elementary and our Adventure Kids Summer Camp for the past two years. When he started at KIDSTOP, he had difficulty talking, eating, and socializing with other children. With kindness and patience, however, the KIDSTOP staff worked with Hamdine to conquer his initial challenges and never made him feel “less” while doing so. He is simply treated as a person. “Today, Hamdine is a brand new kid,” his mother gushed. His doctors and therapists agree and were amazed by the rapid changes over the past 24 months.
Fatima could not say enough about Danny Martinez, KIDSTOP Director, and his staff. “KIDSTOP has been a miracle for my child,” Fatima said. She explained that Danny and his staff have created a welcoming, all-inclusive environment where children are treated equally and respectfully regardless of skills, abilities or background. All children are expected to treat each other the same. No bullying is tolerated and they have created a “safe” learning and social environment for the children to connect in positive ways. In doing so, they have given Hamdine a gift: a place where he can just be himself. “They lead with compassion and heart,” Fatima said, “Kidstop is the only place I wholeheartedly trust with my child. They have changed his life and mine.”
Thank you for sharing the love, Fatima and Hamdine.
Meet Judy Haus & Family
Judy and her husband, Chris Marker have joined a growing number of parents who have decided to homeschool their children. For Judy and Chris, the decision to homeschool was a natural progression from their daughter’s (12) and son’s (8) very positive Reggio Emilia preschool experience. Avid proponents of this inquiry/project-based teaching style, Judy and Chris wanted their children to continue on this path when it was time to start elementary school. Unfortunately, mainstream education offered limited options. Homeschooling was their solution. Six years later, both children have been very successful. Part of the Reggio Emilia learning style allows the children to learn by doing enrichment activities they enjoy. This is where Rec & Park’s new homeschool classes and activities are proving to be valuable for this family.
By providing a variety of activity options, the children are able to browse The Spotlight and choose the enrichment classes themselves. A big win for the kids (and right in-line with Reggio Emilia). For Chris, he appreciates that our homeschool activities are in Pleasant Hill during the day, which allows him to better balance homeschooling the kids and his work schedule. Judy also liked that our homeschool classes offer her kids the opportunity to socialize and make new friends with neighborhood kids in Pleasant Hill. More wins for this homeschool family who hopes we will continue to offer even more activities. Stay tuned, Haus-Marker family! We’re working on it!
Thank you for sharing the love!
Meet Nida Paclebar.For the past 17 years, Nida, a Pleasant Hill resident, has helped make life better for seniors in our community. She generously volunteers 4-5 times at month at the Pleasant Hill Senior Center where she serves as a customer service representative for the Travel Services Desk, helps organize Bingo every Wednesday and helps coordinate Taste of the Vine wine tasting events each season. While she enjoys each of her “jobs”, her favorite by far is working at the travel desk. Nida loves to travel both locally and abroad. She said that traveling is such a wonderful learning experience for her, giving her the opportunity to explore new places, gain new perspectives from different cultures and most importantly, meet all kinds of interesting people. For Nida, traveling is the perfect way to keep active, stay energized and socialize with friends, old and new.
Be warned…Nida’s enthusiasm for travel is contagious. Any patron that approaches the travel desk when Nida is working will most likely be joining her on the next trip. She not only helps book the trip but Nida also serves as a trip escort, ensuring every outing is a smooth, safe and an extraordinary one. Nida said that Rec & Park travel services and our other recreational opportunities are especially important and valuable for seniors who may not have a companion or other social outlets. Traveling is a great way for adults to play, to connect with others and build life-long friendships in a fun and casual way.
Thank you for sharing the love, Nita.And thank you to you and all the other 200 Senior Center volunteers who help make life better in our community.
Meet Erin Cowell. Erin and her young family have been enjoying our District parks and Rec & Park activities ever since relocating from San Francisco five years ago. Like many of their friends, Erin and her husband left the busy City life to raise their family in a community where there are lots of convenient parks, lots of things to do and where you actually know your neighbors. Erin loves the sense of real community here. I met Erin in Pleasant Hill Park on a glorious afternoon where she was volunteering for her son’s, kindergarten class. The entire class walked to the park from Strandwood Elementary to celebrate the end of the school year. Erin said it’s so great that Pleasant Hill Park is so close to everything in town, including her house that is within easy walking-distance. Not only is Pleasant Hill Park conveniently located but it is also her favorite because it has lots of fun play structures, it’s so well maintained and she loves all the “awesome” shade. They’ve celebrated both her sons’ birthdays in Pleasant Hill Park shade. The best park feature for Erin, however, is that it is usually filled with lots of climbing, sliding, running and laughing children for her kids, Miles and Elliott, to play with. It’s a great place to make new friends, for kids and for adults. I feel like a made a new one today.
Thank you for sharing the love, Erin.
Meet Jordan Fletcher. Jordan, a sophomore at College Park High School, is one bright, impressive and very busy teenager. In between high school leadership team, cheer team, track team and homework, squeezing in time for an interview was a bit of a sacrifice, especially since sharing her Rec & Park story was all that stood between her and hanging with her friends later that evening. It was a bit of an honor. Jordan grew up taking advantage of so many Rec & Park activities; I think it’s fair to say she is an official “Rec & Park” fan. Jordan spent many days playing in our parks, swimming in our pools and participating in our recreation programs ever since she was a very little girl.
Teen Xtreme camp was one of her favorite programs. She said that compared to other local camps, Xtreme took teens on better field trips beyond city limits. These WOW! experiences and opportunities to explore new places further abroad somehow made her feel more independent and more mature--a huge plus for any teen. Since 6th grade, Jordan also participated in our Teen After School Program (ASP), walking over to the Teen Center from Sequoia every day with her friends. She said the teen ASP was fun and a great place to make new friends from other schools. Jordan also thought the teen ASP staff was pretty cool. She said they would actually interact with you, related to you and weren’t too old. Quite an endorsement! This summer Jordan hopes to join the Teen Center staff as a camp counselor. She is sure to add some more “cool” to the program and would serve as a great role model to the young tween Xtreme campers. With her experience and vibrant personality, I have a feeling she is going to nail the interviews.
Thank you for sharing the love, Jordan.
Hudson & Kendall Beard
Meet Kendall and Hudson Beard. These two youngsters have loved the water since the day they were born. “They are like two little fish,” said their mom, Amy. Hudson (9 years) and Kendall (8 years) dove into their love of swimming with private swim lessons when they were toddlers. They then joined Rec & Park’s recreational swim team, the Dolfins at the ripe old age of 5 and 4 years old and have been swimming with the team ever since. These two Dolfin fans couldn’t say enough good things about the program.
Hudson likes the challenge of improving his swim strokes; the breaststroke is his favorite. He also loves the swim drills, participating in the meets (“obviously,” he said) and playing games with his buddies on the team. His younger sister, Kendall, was the biggest Dolfin cheerleader of all. She gushed with great enthusiasm about all the things she loved about the program--it was quite contagious. Besides the actual swimming itself (her favorite stroke is the butterfly), Kendall loves the meets because she gets to hang out with all her friends, watch the other races and cheer on her teammates. Both Kendall and her brother love the Dolfin swim coaches too. “They’re awesome!” both kids said and shared who were their favorites (basically, all of them).
Amy (Mom) agreed. The coaches are extremely encouraging and positive, focused on teaching the children the importance of teamwork and reaching his/her own unique best potential. She added that Dolfins was an ideal opportunity for kids to try out the sport of swimming without extreme pressure. “Dolfins is also a fantastic experience for the whole family and is a great way for not only the kids to socialize but the parents as well,” said Amy. “A GREAT community!” Kendall piped in. Hudson stated simply, “If you want to have fun, join the Dolfins!” These two little fish “obviously” found their favorite pond, the Dolfin Swim Team.
Thank you for sharing the love, Hudson, Kendall and Mom, Amy!
Meet Meagan McFadden. Meagan is a very special person in our community whose delightful quick smile, good humor and genuine sweetness endear her to everyone she meets. For the past 11 years, Meagan has faithfully attended Inclusive Recreation Dances for adults with developmental disabilities hosted each month by Pleasant Hill Rec & Park, the City of Walnut Creek or the City of Concord. She loves the opportunity to dress up, meet with her friends, listen to hip music and kick up her cute kitten heels on the dance floor. In fact, Meagan is usually the one to start the Conga line!
These Inclusion Recreation Dances give Meagan and so many other adults, the chance to play, have fun and celebrate life. According to Meagan, birthday celebrations at the dances are a big hit and she looksforward to celebrating her big day in May. These specialized recreation activities also give Meagan and her friends the freedom to just be themselves with acceptance and easy inclusion. The impact on Meagan: joy. For more information on specialized recreation, contact Preston Jones at (925) 256-3531.
Thank you for sharing the love, Meagan.
Meet Don Turner. For the past 20 years, Don has dined with his friends at the CC Café, the Nutrition Program at the Pleasant Hill Senior Center. After losing his wife of 55 years, Don felt isolated in his home and was tired of his own company (and cooking). One day he decided to give the CC Café a try and has come back almost every day since. It’s not the food that keeps him coming back. It’s the people. He treasures the countless friendships he has made throughout the years with fellow Café patrons--people from all different backgrounds and parts of the world. He enjoys hearing their stories, learning from their life experiences and sharing a few of his own.
For Don, the CC Café and the Senior Center has made a tremendous difference in his life. The sense of belonging and community he feels while spending time in the Café and in the Senior Center is a gift that lifts his spirits and keeps him laughing every day. In November, Don celebrated his 100th birthday with 90 people, many of them friends from the Café. Don invites those isolated seniors, especially men, to join him for lunch. His welcoming demeanor and infectious good humor won’t disappoint.
Thank you for sharing the love, Don.
Meet local resident and Rec & Park supporter, Camille Allen. Camille, mom-extraordinaire, has twins who attend Rec & Park’s School Year Preschool. Why is she such a big fan of our program? Because, as a former preschool teacher for Hillsborough Recreation, she has the chops to know a good thing when she sees it. She recognizes and appreciates the warm, loving, nurturing environment our preschool teachers create for her children every day.
She is also a big proponent of the preschool’s fundamental principle “learn through play.” And she likes that the preschool offers a top-quality program at such an affordable price. Camille and her young family look forward to participating in more kid-friendly activities and events in the years to come.
Thank you for sharing the love, Camille.
Meet long-time Rec & Park devotee, Sandi Badley. Sandi, an amazing cookie baker, is a die-hard water aerobics participant who has been attending water aerobic classes three days a week for the past 19 years! What initially prompted Sandi to try the class? After she retired, she was looking for a low-impact fitness option that would be gentle on her joints. Rec & Park water aerobics was a perfect fit. What’s amazing is that Sandi never formally learned to swim but still braves 3.5 feet of water each week to participate in her water aerobics class. Talk about devotion! Why does she keep coming back to Rec & Park? Because of the great instructors, like Bryce Halliday, and the connection she’s forged with her fellow water aerobic classmates over the years. She enjoys the sense of community and friendships that have resulted from attending class.
When she was working full-time, Sandi wished she and her family would’ve participated in more Rec & Park programs and taken advantage of all the recreational opportunities available. Hindsight is 20/20. When she is not in the pool, Sandi bakes and experiments with new cookie recipes each week. Lucky for her water aerobic friends, they get to enjoy the sweet results each Friday morning after class. If you ever wanted to try water aerobics, Friday morning just might be the day to give it a go—Sandi’s cookies are THAT good.
Thank you for sharing the love, Sandi!