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!
Meet Laurie Croft
Laurie used to think that the Pleasant Hill Senior Center just wasn’t for her. She was only 63 years old after all. That all changed when a friend of Laurie’s encouraged her to join the Golden Notes choir that holds practice every week at the Senior Center. Laurie was reluctant to join the choir at first. She was very modest about her singing abilities and said that the main reason she joined was because Golden Notes choir would often perform at local assisted living facilities. As a choir member, Laurie saw firsthand just how much the residents loved and appreciated their performances. The music would lift their spirits and brighten their day. Laurie, a giver by nature, was hooked. Golden Notes choir gave her a way to give back and make a difference. As she frequented the Senior Center for choir practices, Laurie soon became curious about the other senior programs and services there. What other ways could she give back to the community and spread joy? Laurie approached the Rec & Park senior center staff and they welcomed her with open arms. Not too pushy, the staff offered lots of opportunities that not only allowed her to give back but to also receive in return. Laurie jumped in with two feet and helped with senior events. She went outside her comfort zone and served as a trip escort on local day trips for adults. She loved it! And she worked in the CC Café that serves hot, nutritious meals to seniors every day. Through her volunteer efforts, Laurie made new friends, tried new things, grew as a person and definitely made a difference with each life she touched through her service. It turned out that the Senior Center was for her after all. “It is a gift,” Laurie shared.
Thank you for sharing the love, Laurie.
Meet Nader Jazayeri
Nader is a man about town. Some locals even go so far as to nickname him “The Mayor”, an unofficial moniker he confided that he doesn’t actually care too much for. He may not like it, but I think it is perhaps not so far off the mark given his active involvement in the community and his deep affection for Pleasant Hill. “It’s the last small town,” Nader said, “and is the perfect place for families.” Although he claims that he isn’t announcing his mayoral candidacy any time soon (that’s got to be a relief Mayor Matt), Nader IS the leader of the “Gregory Gardens Community Crew” (GGCC), a group of roughly 30-40 people who live in Gregory Gardens neighborhood (plus whoever else wants to join them). They casually get together once a month to celebrate life and to toss around ideas on how to make their neighborhood and community the best possible place to call home. The GGCC members actively volunteer in community and help raise funds for local organizations like Choice In Aging. Many of the GGCC members are also huge Rec & Park fans and Nader said he is one of the biggest. “Pleasant Hill Rec & Park is a huge part of what makes Pleasant Hill great,” Nader said. “Me, my wife and two (adorable) kids especially love their community events—from the “Egg-citing” Easter Egg hunt to Blues & Brews Festival (so epic)!” His favorite event? The Family Campout over Father’s Day weekend in June. Nader, his family and a huge group of GGCC families circle up their tents and have some good, hometown, old fashion fun in Pleasant Hill Park, which happens to be just a block away from home. “Rec & Park events bring people together and help build a stronger community”, Nader shared. “People that play together, stay together.”
Thank you for sharing the love, “Mayor”, uh-hmmm, I mean, Nader.
Meet Matt Rinn
Matt is a man who wears many hats well. With his wonderful, perfectly shaped head, his personable demeanor and extremely altruistic and community minded nature, that is no surprise to anyone who is fortunate enough to meet him. Not only is Matt the owner of a local State Farm Insurance Agency (#myagentMatt) but he is also a husband, father, soccer coach, Rotary Club member, former PH Education Commission member, Citizen of the Year (has the belt to prove it), “Selfie King” and, of course, our 2020 Pleasant Hill Mayor. Oh, and he also happens to be a huge Rec & Park fan.
When Matt and his family moved to Pleasant Hill 9 years ago, it was the Rec & Park District that rolled out the welcome mat. “We didn’t know anyone here,” Matt shared. “It was really Rec & Park programs that provided us with a way to meet and connect with other young families in the community. We made so many new friendships through Rec & Park activities that we still hold dear today.” Both his daughters attended the Rec & Park preschool and took ballet classes. Matt and his wife joined his neighborhood Rec & Park bocce team and enjoyed expanding their network of friends across the community. Together, Matt and his family attended every community family event Rec & Park offers including Breakfast with Santa, the Holiday Festival, the “Egg-citing” Egg Hunt and Tinkers & Thinkers Innovation Fair. Matt was such a fan that he was even involved in planning the very first Blues & Brews Festival eleven years ago! Rec & Park also helped serve his business by providing convenient and beautiful meeting spaces.
What makes Rec & Park so special? Matt said, “the Rec & Park staff!” As a Rec & Park staff member and coming from this very accomplished community leader, I’ll take it.
Thanks for sharing the love, Mayor Matt.
Meet Darlene Roth
Before retiring from her busy career in IT, Darlene only dreamed about the lifestyle she is living now. She wanted to dance more, learn more, travel more, meet more people and make a more positive difference in the lives of others by sharing her passion for fitness. Rec & Park provided the opportunities to make this happen. Darlene used to flip through the pages of Rec & Park’s recreation guide, The Spotlight like a kid browsing the pages of a toy catalog, earmarking all the activities she wanted to try when she had more time. Today, Darlene now has that time and is enjoying every minute of it. Not only is Darlene an active participant in a variety of Rec & Park fitness and dance classes, but she also volunteers as a trip escort and teaches two fitness classes, Stretch & Be Fit With a Smile and Flex Fitness at the Pleasant Hill Senior Center. She loves the opportunity to connect with her students to improve their physical abilities, build their confidence and perhaps most importantly, to make them smile. In turn, her fitness classes help seniors live independently longer by improving their fitness level. Her enthusiasm, high energy and vivacious demeanor makes her a favorite instructor amongst her students. No surprise there. I was ready to sign up for her next class myself! Darlene shared that the Pleasant Hill Senior Centers was such a tremendous and special place because it offers such a wide variety of activities for adults and seniors to live an active lifestyle and do new things they’ve always wanted to try but never had the time. Darlene encourages everyone not to wait and live life to the fullest now.
Thanks for sharing the love, Darlene.
Meet Rich Snowden
Rich has been a parent coach for Pleasant Hill Rec & Park basketball and flag football leagues since 2012. It all started when his son, at age 7, admitted to his dad that baseball wasn’t “his thing.” Rich looked around to find alternative sports opportunities and heard good things about Rec & Park’s flag football league. A former football player himself, Rich wanted to introduce his young son to the sport but in a positive, lower impact environment where kids of all skill levels had an opportunity to learn the game and play.
Rec & Park leagues proved to be a perfect way for his son to try it without a lot of pressure and it helped him to determine if he wanted to be more involved in football at a higher level in the future. Playing on a sports team from an early age also taught Rich’s son about teamwork and helped to build his confidence and social skills—offline. “So many kids are glued to their screens and don’t go out to play with other kids in the neighborhood anymore, “Rich said. “Kids need a place to go, a place to belong and they need opportunities to be part of something positive. Rec & Park sports leagues offered my son (and so many other kids) that face-to-face connection and the community he needed.”This year, Rich’s son joined the JV College Park High School football team with years of positive flag football experience behind him. He is now playing a game he learned through his Dad and Rec & Park, with skill, knowledge and the love of the game. Go Falcons!
Thanks for sharing the love, Rich.
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, Judy and family.
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!