Parks and Recreation Department
To the Citizens, the Board of Selectmen, and the Town Manager:
Over this past year, the Recreation Department has gone through some incredible changes to meet the needs of our community while they dealt with the challenges brought to them by 2020. This year has proved itself to not only be a year that our department will never forget, but also a year that will hold a prominent place in history. I would like to share with you how our department has handled this moment in time.
The year started out as usual with the skating rink, February Break Camp, Jr. Pro Basketball, Indoor Soccer, and After School Hours for the children. Adults and seniors were busy with Pickleball, Tai-chi, Indoor Soccer, and weekly dining, arts, and games groups. However, at 12:00 p.m. on March 16th, activities abruptly stopped. Programs were canceled, doors were shut, and facilities closed for public use…
After about three days of silence at our facilities, our staff began working on virtual programing. Within one week of “closure” the department put together its first week of online programing. After receiving an overwhelming response to our first week, our second week after the shutdown brought about a full roll-out of three times a day seven days per week online programing.
Content included Couch to 5K training, exercise for both children and young adults, yoga, mental health tips, creative cooking, nature/outdoor activities, arts and crafts, community field trips, sports skills and drills, along with many others throughout the year. Our Department also created virtual soccer and field hockey programs this past Fall to help support the public schools’ efforts to protect public health. Within the first few weeks of averaging almost 6,000 views, we knew that our community was in desperate need of creative ideas for their families.
After almost three months of online programing, our Department had garnered over 100,000 views with followers from more than 30 states and 14 countries. Who knew such a small department in the foothills of Western Maine would reach so many people in such a profound and meaningful way?
The Recreation Department was featured in several news articles. We were contacted by many other recreation departments from around the state who were inspired and looking for information and advice on how they could create similar programs and content.
Many other recreation departments in the state were going above and beyond to be there for their communities this year. They were making health and wellness calls, doing home wellness checks, organizing food distributions to local citizens in need, as well as working on providing their communities with the best programing and other activity options.
I would also like to take a minute to sincerely thank the amazing staff who have been the reason for our success this year. Charity Sargood, David Spraker, and Emily O’Donnell have been instrumental in keeping our parks and other properties beautifully maintained this year. Jennifer Savage, Brooke Bolduc, Jessica Howe, Joy Jancewicz, Griffin Conlogue, Zac Conlogue, Susan Jones, and Elizabeth LeClair were the friendly faces of our online content. I would also like to thank some of our very special volunteers – Dr. Stephen Bein, Eddie Yuen, Jody Harmon, Patty Cormier, Dr. Susy Sanders, and the Mt. Blue athletes for their help in creating the important online content for our community this past year. I would also like to take a moment to welcome our new Assistant Director, Michael Muise, who hit the ground running during a very difficult time.
Lastly, I would like to leave you with a few words I wrote when we started down this new path in March - “I would like to encourage our residents to take this time to reflect on what a blessing it is to live in Western Maine and to call the Town of Farmington our home. The Parks are still open, so please go for a walk, enjoy a sunset, listen to the clock bells chime at Meetinghouse Park, and go bird watching at Walton's Mill Pond Park. Fresh air, sunshine, and open spaces can heal a multitude of things.”
If anyone would like more information about the Recreation Department feel free to call us or check out our Facebook page www.facebook.com/farmingtonrec.
Matthew L. Foster, CPRP
Director of Parks and Recreation