My husband, Joe Thompson, and I were born and raised in Urbana and two of our three sons still live here; we are on our third generation of benefiting from all that the Urbana Park District has to offer. Urbana’s strong sense of community is largely due to the parks and schools and all that they do. The beauty and tranquility of walks in Meadowbrook Park has improved our lives. The vast variety of youth and adult programs and variety of parks throughout the city improve all the residents’ quality of life.
Growing up a block from Blair Park, it was our family’s neighborhood park where we attended little league baseball games, played tennis and had our end of year grade school picnics. My brother, Fred, expanded the youth tennis program in the 1970’s with lessons and a sanctioned tournament (The Urbana Open). He went on to be the Urbana High School boys’ tennis coach using the wonderful courts at Blair Park; an example of the great partnership between the Park and School Districts. My mother served many years on the UPDAC—Urbana Park District Advisory Committee and helped organize friends for a women’s tennis group at Blair and a 50 and over women’s basketball team. I spent my high school and college summers teaching swim lessons and lifeguarding at Crystal Lake pool when it was a round pool; a tower in the middle with metal chains separating the shallow and deep areas. Teaching beginning adult swim lessons was one of the most rewarding life experiences. Some adults afraid of being in deep water yet brave enough to face those fears in order to learn to swim, be safe in the water and enjoy pool time with their children. As a lifelong swimmer, I have enjoyed the Urbana Aquatic center and appreciate what it has to offer for the community and it shows another example of the Park and School districts partnership in ventures to improve our community. Urbana Park District has enriched my family’s lives and my parents had a close connection to Blair Park that when they passed, my siblings and I felt that the best way to honor them was to donate a memorial to improve Blair Park.
Walking our children home from school and stopping at Carle Park to play and visit with friends built a sense of community for the neighborhood. In the early 1960’s the Park District had a mini golf tournament at Carle Park, letting the kids set up the course with real holes and a trophy. Those small experiences sometimes affect people’s lives. In this example, Joe and several of his friends caught the golf bug. My husband, Joe, spent years coaching youth basketball, soccer and baseball at Blair Park and Brookens fields, enriching his life along with the many young people he coached. The Brookens baseball field is yet another example of Park and School Districts cooperation; the perfectly maintained field always drew compliments from visiting teams.
I am honored to serve on the Urbana Park District Foundation given all the good things that I have seen the Urbana Park District do over the years; the positive impact that it has had on so many lives, young and old. Having a financial background, teaching accounting at Parkland College for close to 30 years, I hope to be an asset to the foundation at it strives to fulfill its mission of raising money to assist the Park District with projects to improve and enrich all our lives and for generations to come.