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Posted on: November 11, 2022

Garland Earns State Parks Awards

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The Garland Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Department won three awards at the Texas Recreation and Park Society (TRAPS) North Region Conference Nov. 3 in Irving. The department was honored for excellence in programming and recreation facility design excellence. And a Garland volunteer was named Advocate of the Year.

Excellence in Programming: Stay-In at Holford
The award recognizes an outstanding program that has been offered two or more years. 

Garland Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts strives to meet the needs of adults with disabilities. In 2020 when the pandemic hit, all programs and outings had to be canceled. Families had reported depression among their participants because they were isolated and unable to spend time outside the home. Stay-In at Holford was created to find a way to bring back the participants in a safe way. 

Before the pandemic, the Therapeutic Recreation (TR) group would go out on the town once a month for group adventures. These included movies, dinner, bowling, sports games and even a wildlife rescue. The staff wanted to bring this experience back without having to leave the recreation center. 

By staying at the center for these “outings,” staff could help ensure that the participants were in a clean and safe environment, as many individuals with disabilities are at a higher risk than the general population. At the beginning of 2021, staff reached out to the families to gauge their interest in signing up for “outings” again. After some reassurances about cleaning and safety protocols, the first Stay-In at Holford was offered in April 2021 and was a great success for the participants and staff. Everyone was so excited to be back together. Seating incorporated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations of 6-foot spacing and mask wearing.  

The Stay-in offerings have varied. Participants have had the opportunity to try new foods and make their own desserts at the TR Food Crew nights. Some of the favorite desserts were homemade ice cream, cookie and cake decorating, and snow cones. On Make It a Movie nights, participants got to visit the Holford Concession Stand where they ordered pizza, a drink, popcorn and candy before enjoying a movie at the “Holford Theater.” Some of the standout Out ’N’ About days included painting, enjoying a magic show and learning how to do a magic trick, and a game night with giant games and friendly competitions. In October 2021 we hosted a spooktacular Halloween party with food, games, crafts and photo opportunities. In December 2021 we were able to offer our Holiday at Holford where participants got dinner and dessert, made an ornament for their tree at home, played games and enjoyed a gift exchange. Staff have continued to challenge themselves to come up with unique, affordable and fun ideas to bring smiles to every face! 

The popularity continues to grow. When the program was first introduced, there were about eight participants. Now we are up to 18 participants. This program has proven to be a valued offering. The families feel secure in leaving their loved ones in a controlled and safe environment. As we continue, staff will continue to find ways to meet the needs of the Therapeutic Recreation community in the best way we can.

Award was accepted by Heather Lambert and Megan Hall. 

Recreation Facility Design Excellence: Audubon Recreation Center
The award recognizes a recreation facility project for professional design quality and recreation usage, and for the cooperation between design professionals and park and recreation professionals.

Audubon Recreation Center was built in 1980 and remodeled in 2003. The existing center was 10,600 square feet in area. In a 2004 Bond Proposition, the $2.8 million Phase II was for a 17,000 square feet expansion to accommodate a larger scope of recreational programming. That was to include an expanded lobby, second office, multipurpose activity room, new gymnasium, space for fitness/exercise, and related utility and site work. 

During preliminary design phases that started in January 2015, with consideration to the project budget and construction cost increases, the building expansion was scaled back to 3,500 square feet of programmable space. The project was put on hold due to lack of funding for the original intended scope of the project. 

The Audubon Recreation Center project resurfaced in discussions regarding a 2019 bond program as it was a project with unused 2004 bond funding. Voters in 2019 approved $117.8 million to renovate, construct, develop, improve and expand Parks & Recreation facilities. Projects anticipated include improvements to recreation centers, aquatic facilities, trails, parking lots, roads, sports fields, public squares, water features, playgrounds and other supportive infrastructure facilities at or integrated into Parks & Recreation.

Between the 2004 and 2019 bond programs, voters approved $6.1 million to expand and renovate Audubon Recreation Center to provide enhanced health and fitness options to Garland residents. The kickoff meeting was held in October 2019 and construction started in September 2020. The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place Oct. 5, 2021. 

The completed project added approximately 5,000 square feet to the existing facility, allowing for increased capacity, an improved interior layout and renovations throughout the existing space. Improvements include: 

  • A new fitness room - the largest in the Garland system;
  • Two expanded multipurpose rooms;
  • New lobby and reception area;
  • Interactive projection system in the gym; and
  • Covered patio and lawn area for outdoor activities.

Pictured right: Award accepted by D’Lee Williams, Jesse Johnson, Jr., Silvia Froehner, Brendon Zachery and BRW Architects representative Corey Durant. Also pictured: TRAPS Executive Director Erin Franz and TRAPS President Trent Kelley.

Advocate of the Year: David Parrish
The award recognizes a group or individual who has made a significant contribution to parks and recreation in their community.

David Parrish discovered his enthusiasm for nature at a young age, earning the Boy Scouts of America’s Eagle Badge in 1971. David continued to volunteer with the scouts throughout his college years. He then entered a long career with the Environmental Protection Agency as an Environmental Scientists & Information Specialist. In 2001, raising a son with special needs with his wife, Sharon, he got back into Scouting full time. His son earned his Eagle in 2005 before passing away in 2010.    

David and Sharon remained active in the community, mentoring students at Williams Elementary and Sellers Middle School through Garland Independent School District’s Youth Achievement Foundation; leading fundraising efforts for the Achievement Center of Texas (ACT), a special needs daycare in Garland, and the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation; and volunteering with the North Texas Food Bank and Good Sam’s helping to distribute food from a Mobile Food Truck at Spring Creek Community Church. In 2012 David and Sharon were recognized by ACT with the “Champions Who Care Award.” The same year they were recognized at the DFW Federal Executive Board’s Service Excellence Luncheon with the “Community Service Award.” David is also a graduate of the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Garland program.

His volunteering ramped up once he retired in 2015. He channeled his early Scouting days and career in environmental science and got back to nature, earning his Master Naturalist Certificate in 2015. He continues to work with Garland ISD, building school gardens on five different school campuses and volunteering to teach classes on the benefits of nature, often with a variety of flora and fauna in tow. But most days, you will find David hiking the many miles of nature trails crisscrossing the nearly 116 acres of the Spring Creek Forest Preserve. 

The Spring Creek Preserve is maintained and managed by the City of Garland Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Department as part of an agreement with Dallas County. This piece of North Texas history exists within just a few hundred yards of apartments, big box stores and a convention center. A majority of its bottom land hardwood forest has remained untouched for generations, with Chinquapin, Bur and Shumard oaks standing more than 100 feet tall with estimated ages between 100 to 300 years. Of the many professional and amateur botanist, horticulturist, herpetologist and other scientific disciplines that have visited the Preserve over the years, it is estimated to be home to more than 650 unique species of plants and animals, and that’s before accounting for the dragonflies, spiders, ants, beetles and other species just waiting to be found.  

The guardian watching over this natural wonder is the Preservation Society for Spring Creek Forest, a nonprofit formed in 1987 with a mission to protect the past to enrich the future. A solely volunteer-based organization, they work hand-in-hand with the City to manage Spring Creek Preserve as well as coordinate and run monthly volunteer work days, educational walking tours and several other events to promote, educate and preserve Spring Creek for future generations. David Parrish has been at the Society’s helm for the past eight years. 

David has logged more than 1,368 volunteer hours through Texas Master Naturalist, including 168 hours of advanced training. But the number of “unofficial” hours he has logged over the years giving back to the Preserve is unmeasurable; more than just time, he gives of his knowledge, passion, dedication and love that can’t be measured in hours, but in the legacy that he is creating with every Eagle project, volunteer day and educational walk he coordinates or leads. David has served on the Garland Parks & Recreation Board since 2016 and is currently the chair for the board.

Award was accepted by David Parrish.

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