Letter to the Editor | In a tumultuous year, PRD was a lifeline for kids and families

This time last year, my husband and I were trying to figure out how we were going to survive a summer of COVID and all of the social restrictions that it brought, with two extroverted young children stuck at home desperately missing their friends and classmates. And then, like a breath of fresh air, the Piedmont Recreation Department came to our rescue. They announced they’d be hosting a modified in-person day camp – “Camp (Almost) Everything” – starting June 1, 2020. 

This was literally the first summer camp in the Bay Area that gave children a chance to be together again since schools had abruptly closed in March. While school districts around the country continued to debate about the best path forward for kids, PRD quietly and quickly got to work and figured out how to safely pivot to meet the social and emotional needs of Piedmont’s kids, and the childcare challenges of their parents. As Erin Rivera recently noted at the City Council meeting celebrating her 27 years as PRD Director, “We were kind of bad-asses, on the cutting edge, keeping kids happy. We did really amazing things this year; we followed the science, we followed the safety.”

On behalf of so many grateful Piedmont parents, I would like to thank Erin and the rest of the PRD team for the many amazing things they accomplished for our families over the last year. The wonderful PRD staff showed up every day for our kids, helping them thrive and feel normal in this very abnormal year. They helped keep our kids safe and healthy, not just from COVID but also from the devastating emotional effects of isolation and broken routines. They helped support working parents by giving our kids a safe place to do their distance learning on the elementary campuses. In short, they met Piedmont families exactly where we were and found a way to support us in the most challenging of circumstances. 

The reasons to be grateful for our heroic Rec Department are many. Here are just a few words of gratitude from some local families who want PRD staff to know how much they mean to this community:

  • “My family is grateful for PRD this year because they offered virtual TKD classes last Spring when my kids were really missing their teachers and coaches. My kids and I were so happy to hear their kind TKD Master’s voice floating through our house! Over and over, PRD has met the needs of our community these last 15 months. Thank you!”

– Alissa Welch & Family (7th and 4th grade)

  •  “PRD led with tenacity, flexibility and a can-do spirit even when faced with obstacles others considered insurmountable—and as a result they created a safe, fun place where the kids in our community could run and laugh and be kids.”

– Stacy Hammond & Family (8th and 5th)

  • “We will be forever grateful for all Erin & the PRD team have done for our family, especially during this pandemic. Thank you for your creativity in offering outdoor programs and pre-school for my youngest, I think nothing will ever beat having Pre-K at the Japanese Tea House! Thank you for making our kids happy when they needed it the most.”

– Antonia Molinare & Family (4th, 2nd and Pre-K)

  •  “Nearly every single day since October, my wife and I have expressed to each other our deep appreciation, respect and admiration for PRD and Schoolmates at Wildwood for the experience our daughter has had this school year. This is a program that did all it could, all the time, to provide quality care for our kids and support for working parents. We cannot express enough thanks to PRD for their work getting our daughter as close to a normal year as a kid in Piedmont could get. Their enthusiasm, resourcefulness and dedication are truly remarkable.”

– Justin Horner & Family (4th and PHS)

  • “Thank you for happy kids, escaping from the same old four walls, playing outside, seeing the friends they missed and making new ones. Thank you for giving parents a much-needed breather, an island of calm in the 2020 storm. Thank you for giving us all a slice of normal in a crazy world. Thank you PRD!” 

– Coral Day & Family (2nd and K)

There’s a saying that you move to Piedmont for the schools, but you stay for the recreation department – and that could not have been more true for my family and so many others this year. Thank you, Piedmont Rec, for stepping up for our kids this year when so many adults were focused elsewhere. We will be forever grateful.

— Laura Maestrelli, parent of rising 3rd grader and Kindergartner

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