The Valparaiso Parks and Recreation Department is dedicated to preserving, developing, and promoting Valparaiso’s unique quality of life. Over the years, Valpo Parks has made good on this mission through routine maintenance and a myriad of events and projects that help keep the parks looking fresh and serving as activity hubs for the community.
A large portion of the success of these efforts is attributed to community volunteers that come out and help further the already diligent efforts of year-round Valpo Parks staff. The time that they give proves invaluable to the ongoing upkeep of all Valpo parks.
“We love partnering with the community and finding ways for people to give back,” said Kevin Nuppnau, Business Operations Director for Valpo Parks.
There are many opportunities to volunteer throughout the year, including group and individualized projects tailored to the interests and needs of those wanting to make a difference.
“Throughout the year we do lots of group volunteer opportunities,” Nuppnau said. “We partner with United Way for their Day of Caring, and offer a number of other projects that local organizations can sign up for. If there are specific projects that groups or individuals want to work on, they can offer their volunteerism and we’ll work with that group on specific projects we have going on at that time that may be a good fit.”
“In many ways it’s a case by case basis a lot of times, and we are actively engaged with organizations and others that have days throughout the year dedicated to supporting groups in the nonprofit world,” Nuppnau continued. “For example we’ll have groups come and spread mulch at our playgrounds in the parks and do general park pickups, cleaning the area of trash and debris, and just scanning the parks making sure they look nice and clean in addition to the regular daily upkeep of our maintenance staff.”
In addition to grounds upkeep and outdoor park maintenance, organizations and groups can also participate in other special projects.
“Things like building a shelter or painting a bathroom on the park premises also make a big difference,” Nuppnau said. “It’s really about what interests the group and what we’re in need of at the time, how they want to give back and what we have on our project list. We’re very open and always willing to work with any organization or individuals that want to support us and give back.”
While Park staff is dedicated to keeping Valpo’s parks in great shape year-round, some projects just need more hands to be efficient, and that’s where the help of volunteers comes in.
“We have a full-time park staff that does a lot, but some special projects often require more hands, especially when it comes to playground upkeep,” Nuppnau said. “We have 14 playgrounds in the Valpo Parks system, and every couple of years we like to rotate through and update the mulch and give them a little lift. We are far more capable of doing great things when we band together and tackle these projects as a united group.”
Nuppnau and the Valpo Parks staff take great pride in what they bring to the community, and encourage locals to share in that sense of unity and mutual accomplishment by lending a helping hand.
“There’s a sense of pride knowing that you’re doing something for others and that you took time out of your day to help better the community we all share,” Nuppnau said. “Whether we’re pulling weeds, spreading mulch, or brightening up a structure with a fresh set of paint, we are much stronger, and our impact is much greater, as a group.”