Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department staff are constantly springing into action – on March 30, staff helped set up the COVID-19 testing site located at FitTeam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Staff helped with this tremendous effort by filling sandbags, positioning generators, making and delivering signage, among other tasks!
“We say it all year long – parks save lives – thank for stepping up again in our community’s time of need to make a difference.” -Jennifer Cirillo, pbcParks Assistant Director
Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Public Service Professionals are helping to fill much-needed roles across the county during this challenging time of general park closures. Many staff members have ventured away from their typical park-related roles in order to assist where critically needed. Here are just some of the ways staff has been assisting through various emergency and community roles:
• Staff has been deployed through the EDRP to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), including Ocean Rescue EMTs who have been screening people entering the EOC per CDC guidelines
• Recreation Programs Supervisor Cliff Battles is also at the EOC and is adeptly handling many Logistics Section and municipal mission/resource requests
• Public Relations Specialist Bibi Baksh was activated to the EOC in the Public Information Unit and helped pull together the 4:00 P.M. press conference
• Several designated EOA members from throughout the Department have also been activated to help set-up the COVID-19 Drive-through Testing Site at Fit Team Ballpark of the Palm Beaches with the multiple partner agencies; the department’s sign shop is busy producing signs critical to this effort
• Several forklift drivers are assisting at the Countywide Staging Area (CSA) at the fairgrounds, where supplies from the State are coming in, being sorted and distributed to a prioritized list including hospitals, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, etc…
These roles are in addition to the thousands of less visible but critical ways staff makes a difference through answering questions, educating the public, securing parks, sharing social media experiences to provide for a moment of stress relief or to inform, maintaining natural habitats, and more.
During these unprecedented times, Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department staff continue to work in various roles to serve the community. Here are just two visible examples of the amazing work that PBC Parks and Recreation professionals are up to during this challenging time of general park closure to public park use.
A mobile shower unit in partnership with non-profit “Shower the People“ is visiting the John Prince Park homeless encampment twice a week starting Saturday, March 28 to help people in need with preventative hygiene needs. Additional hand washing stations were also installed. The Park Operations, Park Rangers, Trades, JPP Maintenance Team, Special Facilities Special Events Section, and Administration teams collaborated to make this happen in short order.
Our animal ambassadors continue to need care and Daggerwing Nature Center staff brought environmental education into homes of students and adults alike: great work, Sean, Lila, and Daggerwing staff! You can view daily feeding videos of the nature center’s animals on their Facebook page.
There are countless opportunities for you and your best friend to stay active inside PBC Parks! Watch this video to learn about four county-operated dog parks, as well as other locations you and your pup can go to play.
The Palm Beach County Parks to Work Program is an effort that combines the forces of the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, Community Services Department, Salvation Army, and other community partners to help homeless individuals who are living in John Prince Park in Lake Worth get resources to escape homelessness.
Miguel Crespo is the program’s first success story. Crespo started in the 6-month program in February 2018 and was able to obtain seasonal employment with the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department as a result of his experience as a Parks to Work participant. In March 2019, Crespo obtained a full-time position as a maintenance employee with the department, working primarily at Peanut Island in Riviera Beach. The program has allowed Crespo to successfully transition out of homelessness, obtain a job, buy a car, and secure permanent housing.
Watch this video to learn more about Miguel Crespo’s story and the Parks to Work Program.
PBC Parks’ Volunteer Spotlight highlights our talented and dedicated volunteers! Meet DuBois Pioneer Home volunteer, Kim Ryan, one of the four “original” Dubois Pioneer Home historical docents. Watch the video to learn about Ryan – including why she volunteers and what reactions she gets from visitors! Docents provide guests with quality, educational, and enriching experiences by giving educational tours throughout the DuBois House exhibit. Consider becoming a docent at the DuBois House located at DuBois Park in Jupiter! Call PBC Parks Volunteer Services at 561-966-6609 for more information.
Picnicking is a great family activity! It’s a great opportunity to get away from the traditional setting of a dinner table and head out to a natural environment.
Benefits of picnicking:
Spend time outdoors in a serene setting: being outdoors has been proven to boost moods, reduce stress levels, and improve overall mental wellness. This is a chance for you and your family to be away from the stresses of every day life and enjoy a natural setting.
Bond with family members: because many people live fast-paced lifestyles, there aren’t many opportunities to slow down and spend meaningful time with the people who matter. Play games, get up and walk, or simply sit still and bond over a good meal.
Communicate more effectively: small talk, or even deep conversations, are essential to any good picnic. Head out and learn more about what’s going on with your family members – whether it’s school, work or friends – this is a great opportunity to connect with the people you care about and encourage effective communication skills in kids.
Develop healthy eating habits: instead of buying a pre-made meal to enjoy on a picnic, try preparing a meal for your next picnic trip. Meals prepared at home are typically healthier and more nutritious than pre-made meals. Make sure you include all the basics for a full, healthy meal.
Encourage active lifestyles: having group or family picnics consistently can allow families to form traditions that are passed down from generation to generation; make picnics a habit and turn it into an outing! Bring supplies for games like tug-of-war, soccer or football and encourage the kids to get up before eating to fit in some physical activity during the picnic.
Check out municipal parks in or near your town or city for additional picnicking locations.
Note: please do not feed wild or stray animals. Animals that are fed can become aggressive and harass people. Wild or stray animals can become extremely territorial and bite the hand that feeds them. This can transmit disease. Animals that become used to human contact are susceptible to disease, injury, and random acts of violence. The survival skills of wild animals are threatened when they lose the ability to forage naturally for food. This can happen when they are fed by hand or when they eat food left out for stray or abandoned pets. Stray animals hunt and kill native wildlife, even when well fed.