Piedmonters have surely seen Recreation Department superstar Erin Rivera around. If not, where have you been? Maybe it’s time to sign your kids up for Camp Everything!
Rivera has worked with the Piedmont Recreation Department for 25 years (getting her kicks first as the Wildwood Site Coordinator in 1993 and then as the Work Supervisor in 1997) and has shown commitment to youth, staff, and programming through and through.
“We have had a lot of success in meeting the needs of the community,” said Rivera. “I work with so many young people and every day is different, so I’ve been able to stay fresh, and keep changing and listening.”
As Work Supervisor, she oversaw schoolmates, preschool, summer camps, and youth employment.
On July 5, Rivera waved good-bye to her job as Work Supervisor. She now fills the shoes of Sara Lillevand, who stepped down as Recreation Director and stepped up in June as City Administrator.
“[Lillevand] definitely has left [the Rec. Department in a better] place than when she got here,” said Rivera. “Now it’s nice that somebody at City Hall is thinking about us.”
For her part Lillevand had kind words for Rivera. “Erin is one of the most creative quick thinkers I have ever worked with,” said Lillevand. “I have learned a great deal from Erin over the past five years and can honestly say, I could not have succeeded in my role at PRD without her partnership.”
Rivera plans to continue to support the hundreds of part-time staffers, 15 full-time employees and hundreds of summer campers streaming through the heart of town every week.
“[Erin] cares deeply about the children and families served by the Recreation Department,” Lillevand added. “Summer is the busiest time of the year and with 25 summers under her belt, there is no one better suited to lead PRD at this moment.”
Rivera has more up her sleeves after the summer rush is over, she says. “We’ve contracted with someone to evaluate what we have and what we don’t have to try and see if there are new opportunities for full-day preschool in town.”
Knowing how family and community-oriented Piedmont is, Rivera takes on a “children first, everything else later” mentality while she’s on the job.
“It’s like a customer service place knowing that children are the most important commodity in life and that [parents] are trusting me,” she said. “I take that responsibility very seriously.”
Rivera adds that her aim is to create an inclusive environment where everybody belongs and feels welcomed. One way she hopes to accomplish this is by saying ‘no’ to computers and other forms of technology.
“‘Is it good for kids?,’” she’ll ask when making decisions. “‘Is it healthy, safe, fun, and something that they need?’ And then we can decide if it’s good for the staff or good for everyone else.”
As Rivera goes into her second week on the job, she feels upbeat about the future.
“I’m just going to take it a day at a time right now,” mused Rivera. “I’m just feeling really open and grateful to have the chance to be here and help keep things moving forward.”