EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: South suburban parks group helps us all

2014-05-11T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: South suburban parks group helps us allBy John Wilson nwitimes.com
May 11, 2014 12:00 am  • 

First I want to say to all mothers, Happy Mother’s Day. Mothers have a very special place in our hearts. They bring us in and really never let us go serving as that guiding light throughout our life. Enjoy the day!

2014 represents the 40th anniversary of South Suburban Park & Recreation Professional Association, and I would like to share a portion of the history I authored for SSPRPA two years ago.

Every entity, every object has its beginning. A flower has its seed, a river has its creek, and in 1974 SSPRPA had five young professionals with an idea/vision to make a difference. They wanted to form a group to network and pursue legislative matters beneficial to the parks and recreation profession and in particular to the south suburban region. Forty years later, their vision is still alive and very strong.

Formed in the basement of the Blue Island Park District, by the “founding fathers” Scott McNally, Tim Schroeder, Chuck Hoscheit, John Murphy and Spencer McKinney, SSPRPA was organized to be an active group of park and recreation agencies of Chicago's south suburban metropolitan area. The main focus was legislative issues and to gain respectability among peers in the parks and recreation profession.

Today, not only are the members of SSPRPA keeping a keen eye on the state and federal legislative process, they also are highly involved in the legislative process.

As for the respectability issue, the SSPRPA members over the years have shown their dedication to the advancement of the profession through various program offerings, their unending dedication to their communities, some members have had leadership positions within state and national associations, and many SSPRPA members have served on committees of these state and federal associations.

Their involvement and leadership has earned the strong respect SSPRPA has today amongst professional peers in parks and recreation.

In the early beginnings, it was John Murphy who organized bus trips to Springfield to go down and lobby the legislators for more money for parks and recreation. Truth be known, these trips were way ahead of the times — innovative.

At the 2011 legislative breakfast in Tinley Park, John Murphy said, “This is what it was all about forming SSPRPA. Getting the legislators to listen to us and work with us.”

Today, the main goal of the SSPRPA is to serve all communities in this region through better parks and recreation. It is believed through professional ties and exchange of ideas by the membership that individual park and recreation agencies will benefit by improved recreational and leisure services. This sounds pretty much like what our founding fathers had in mind back in the '70s.

Members of SSPRPA have become strong lobbyists for parks and recreation over the last 40 years by following and keeping our founding fathers' professional philosophy alive.

To the South Suburban Park & Recreation Professional Association, happy 40th anniversary. Here is to another 40 years!

John Wilson is director of Lan-Oak Park District. The opinions are the writer's.

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