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Volunteers needed for recreation to succeed

L’Observateur / July 17, 1998

It is often said that idle hands are the devil’s workshop. That is definitelytrue during the summer or after school when youngsters find themselves having nothing to do.

That is where recreation comes in. Not only is getting involved in a sportor cultural program fun, it also gives youngsters a chance to exercise their creativity while keeping them off the streets and out of trouble.

Recreation was again a hot topic at the St. John the Baptist Parish CouncilTuesday night just as it has been many times before. Harold Keller, anative of LaPlace, addressed concerns he had about the parish recreation program and offered to serve on a blue ribbon committee that would make recommendations to the administration and keep the council informed.

Members of the community defended the job recreation director Louis Lipps is doing, saying that he just needs more funding for his department.

Yes, the recreation department is probably underfunded, especially compared to the departments in neighboring parishes. But money, as oftenis the case, will not alone solve all the woes of the recreation department. What is needed, first and foremost, is people. People who willvolunteer to run concession stands at the games. People who will helpwith the maintenance of the fields. People who will help coach the teams.That is not to say that there are not already people doing these jobs. Thereare coaches like C.J. Watkins, Vernell Charles and Wade Delaneuville, toname just a very select few, who have been coaching in the program for years. They have willingly given up their time, sometimes even their ownmoney, to help make a difference in the lives of the children of the parish.

Yet all we often hear is criticism of the program rather than recognition of these volunteers. These men and women have other jobs in their livesbut are willing to put aside some time for others. They do not have to doit. They do it because they want to do it, to be able to help give ayoungster something to do and keep them off the streets while learning skills that often go beyond the ballyard. For that they should becommended.

Another dispute recently is over all-star teams. I agree that recreation isfor everybody, perhaps maybe even more so for the child that is not a superstar athlete. We need to make sure that they are treated equally withthe more skilled players. They are out there to have as much fun as anyoneelse and should have the opportunity to do so.

I am also for all-star teams. I believe players should be rewarded fortheir talents. I remembered the year I was selected to an all-star squad inJefferson Parish. That season we had our playoffs for the regular season,had a week off to give the players a break, then had a camp to teach us more about fundamentals before practicing and playing for the all-stars.

Maybe the same thing can be done here.

Everybody has a suggestion for improving recreation. But suggestions arenot enough. Everybody needs to take a turn at the plate to help score runsfor the children of the parish.

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