New Parks and Rec program fosters community connections

Between the dark days, frigid breezes and slippery sidewalks, Southeast winters can be brutal. Sometimes, it feels easier to stay home alone than brave the elements. But thanks to Parks and Recreation's new "community connections" program, Wrangellites have a warm, casual space to socialize, complete with games and hot beverages.

Throughout the winter months, the Parks Department is opening the multi-purpose room in the community center from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays to create a communal space for adults.

The program offers coffee, board games and a chance to mingle. The kitchen is available for whipping up treats to share, though participants are also welcome to bring their own snacks from home for attendees to enjoy.

Recreation assistant Mad Hesler hosted the program's first day on Thursday, Nov. 2.

"As we all know, Wrangell can be difficult in the winter when we get so much rain and it's cold," said Hesler, holding a mug of fresh coffee. "Although we're a small community and we like to think that we all know each other, it's nice to be able to connect with people we normally wouldn't connect with."

Hesler also lifeguards at the community pool and works in the Parks and Rec office.

"Parks and Rec already does such a great job of bringing everyone together. Having people come to this place intentionally to spend time together and get to know each other is important for our community."

Community connections builds on ongoing Parks and Rec offerings like tot gym, which allows parents to mingle while their kids play with toys and inflatables. This program, however, focuses on the 18-plus age group, since adults can benefit from relaxing social time just as much as kids.

Parks and Recreation Director Lucy Robinson and Recreation Coordinator Devyn Johnson dreamed up the idea to create space for adults to get to know each other beyond Wrangell's fun but finite bar and restaurant scene.

"Community connection is vital for the well-being of individuals and the overall health of society," the department announced via email. "It fosters social support, inclusivity, collaboration and a sense of belonging, while also contributing to various aspects of physical and mental health. Building and nurturing community connections is an investment in the well-being a progress of individuals and the broader community."

The program doesn't have a set end date yet, since the department is still "testing out the waters," said Hesler. As the program continues and staff get a better sense for community demand, they will make decisions about its future.

Admission is $3 for seniors and $5 for adults.


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