The Parks and Recreation Department hosts 15 youth sports programs with more than 3,420 participants, 16 special events and 14 community involvement projects a year, all made possible by dedicated volunteers. Without the selfless time and dedication of coaches and special event volunteers, the department would not offer such wonderful opportunities to the citizens of this great city.
For every team in every sport, we need a volunteer coach. This makes our coaches the largest group of volunteers. The coach’s biggest responsibility is to teach kids the fundamentals of the sport and how to work as a team, a daunting task when working with a dozen 4-year-olds on a kickball team. This particular type of volunteer needs to understand the basics of the sport, communicate with staff, parents, and players, and give quality time to these kids.
Nonetheless, our coaches make it work to see the smiling faces of those 4-year-olds at the end of the game whether they win or lose. It is a lot to ask of one person who is donating their valuable time, but it is one of the most important roles this person will play in a kid’s life. It has been proven that kids who play sports excel in many aspects of their life. This only justifies the importance of a coach in the Parks and Recreation Department.
Working at a Harker Heights special event or community involvement projects is one of the most enjoyable volunteer opportunities we have to offer. Every year we put on nearly 16 different special events and 14 community-involvement projects. Again, without the selfless dedication of our volunteers we would not be able to pull these events off. These particular sets of volunteers have the opportunity to do some of the most exciting tasks. We have asked volunteers to dress up as reindeer at Frost Fest, dig a 2-foot hole in the rocky Texas soil to help plant a tree, (this takes some extreme muscle) and lay over 1,000 Easter eggs on a baseball field in three minutes. What always amazes me is that they always say “yes.”
“Thank you” will never be enough to show the appreciation we have for our volunteers. They always go above and beyond any expectation we ever have. They bring support to our department that allows us to have a city-run athletics department and put on numerous events and community involvement projects every single year.
So the next time you attend a soccer game or take your family to Halloween Hoopla, thank a volunteer. It wouldn’t be possible without them.
Heather Cox is activities coordinator for the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department.