A recreation and parks district enhances a community's overall quality of life by providing spaces for residents to engage in activities promoting physical, mental and emotional well-being. In Wasco, Chris Serna is the manager of this city agency and is responsible for leading the organization in innovative and interactive programming for all ages.
She has held the position for two years, previously being employed primarily in the public sector. She is not from Wasco – "But I have worked in Wasco for over 27 years and have spent so much time here that I consider it to be my second home," she said in an interview recently.
Serna is passionate about her job. "I love bringing people together. Our customers are so enthusiastic about their activities, sports, nonprofit organizations, etc. I love seeing firsthand new sports teams forming, recreation facilities being upgraded and people being active in our community. The benefits of recreation are endless, and I enjoy being a part of the industry."
She believes that one of the goals of the WRPD is to engage with the community.
"We do this by providing residents with a venue for community participation and a sense of place, offering essential life-enhancing qualities that aid community and individual well-being."
As district manager, she sees her role, along with the WRPD team, as helping to influence the community, "and increasing physical activity through the promotion of safe, equitable and inclusive access to parks and recreation areas, sports programs, camps for different ages and community activities and events."
She oversees many youth activities, including NFL flag football, Little League baseball, Little League softball, t-ball, swimming, coach pitch baseball, soccer and NBA basketball. For adults, there is a year-round Fit Club and a senior center with plans for co-ed adult softball, volleyball and basketball leagues.
Serna said these are intended to support health and wellness.
"WRPD programming, activities and events are aimed at creating a healthy community and play a fundamental role in enhancing the physical environments in which we live. Through facilities, outdoor settings and services provided, they support good health for people of all abilities, ages, socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities."
Many special events take place under her direction, such as the annual Fireworks Show, the Color Blast Fun Run, Spring it On Easter Egg Hunt, Light Up Wasco Christmas Cruise and the Halloween Trunk or Treat.
She said she is proud of the partnerships that have made some of these events possible. "It takes great partnerships and relationships because it would be difficult for the district to take them on its own without them."
Looking ahead, she said, "We have more community events planned in the very near future and some work that we have planned for the Cormack Park renovation with the Prop 68 funds."