Awards and Recognition
Hopewell, VA. Over 500 delegates from around the state gathered last week at the 64th Annual Conference of the Virginia Recreation and Park Society held in Tysons Corner, Virginia. The conference provides an opportunity for recreation and park professionals to discuss areas of common interest and to engage in professional development opportunities.
Highlighting each year’s conference is a formal presentation of awards. This state-wide program honors individuals, departments, and organizations throughout Virginia who have demonstrated excellence in any of several areas during the previous year. 115 applications were received vying for awards in 14 different categories. Judged by a jury of its peers, the society presented Hopewell Recreation and Parks with awards in the following categories:
• Best New Special Event (population 25,000 and under) – Hopewell Veterans Day Parade
• Best New Facility (Parks, Playground, Greenways and Trails-population 25,000 and under) – Arlington Park
• Best New Environmental Sustainability (population 25,000 and under) – Riverside Park Stormwater Greenway.
Tabitha Martinez, Special Events Supervisor, received the Outstanding New Professional Award, one of the Virginia Recreation and Park Society’s highest honors. Tabitha achieved her Certified Parks and Recreation Professional status during the award period and has also been elected to serve as the Chair-elect of the Central Service Area of the Virginia Recreation and Park Society. Ms. Martinez coordinates a variety of large events and programs for the department like Rockin’ on the River, Hopewell Haunts, Light Up the Night, Wonder City Ice Skating, and all of the department’s summer camp programs. She has secured over $50,000 in grant funding for the department to support summer camp programs in the past two years. Tabitha is an asset to Hopewell Recreation and Parks and the City of Hopewell in the work that she does to serve the citizens.
The Hopewell Community Center has been named the 2018 Outstanding Host Site by the Fitness Warriors Program. The honor was presented to department staff at the Warrior Nation celebration held at the Robinson Theater and Community Arts Center on January 26, 2019. The Community Center was nominated by a Fitness Warrior instructor and then selected by a panel of judges. The Hopewell Community Center is one of 48 locations and hosts two weekly Fitness Warrior classes, which are offered free of charge to the general public. To learn more about the Fitness Warriors classes offered at the Hopewell Community Center, please click here.
The department received the Best New Program Award from the Virginia Recreation and Park Society for the Wonder City Ice Skating Program. The award was presented to the department at the Annual Conference Awards Banquet held on November 5, 2018 in Henrico, VA. The Wonder City Ice Skating program was created in 2017 when the department purchased a synthetic ice skating rink from a neighboring locality. The department had to design the support facilities and operations from the ground up, bringing an affordable ice skating experience to the citizens of Hopewell.
The department received the Best Park Renovation Award from the Virginia Recreation and Park Society for the City Park Improvement Project. The award was presented at the Annual Conference Awards Banquet held on November 5, 2018 in Henrico, VA. The City Park Improvement Project was funded by the American Water Charitable Foundation. The $150,000 grant was used to completely renovate the waterfront park space with new nature-inspired play equipment, climbing boulders, over 400 shrubs and trees, interpretive signage, walking trails, fencing, parking improvements, and more. The goal of the grant is to connect children with the natural environment while promoting environmental stewardship and conservation. City Park also serves as the trailhead for the Hopewell Riverwalk, a 1,700-foot linear elevated walkway that follows the shoreline of the Appomattox River.
The Woodlawn Park renovation design has been recognized by PlayCore as a National Demonstration Site for best practices regarding inclusive play. The recognition also allowed the playground project to qualify for over $50,000 in grant funding from Cunningham Recreation through the VRPS Promotes Play and Recreation Initiative. The park renovation is currently under construction. When completed, the new playground will offer a variety of inclusive play equipment including wheelchair accessible play structures, zero-G swings, merry-go-all, sensory wave arch, and various other features like paved walking trails, new picnic pavilion, and updated park amenities. The project is slated to be completed in May 2019.
The department received a $25,000 grant from the John Randolph Foundation in support of youth summer programs offered for children ages 3-17. The John Randolph Foundation has supported the Recreation and Parks Department for many years and continues to be a major contributor for summer camps, the City Point 5K and Kids Fun Run, and other park and programming opportunities. Summer camp programs are offered in various age divisions and include breakfast and lunch meals, field trips, guest speakers, special themes, and tons of new experiences. We would like to thank the John Randolph Foundation for their continued support in making Hopewell a healthy and fun place to live!
The department received a $20,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Health for the installation of a new, unique piece of outdoor fitness equipment. The equipment has been installed at Woodlawn Park as part of the park's comprehensive renovation. The park is still under construction and is slated to be completed in May 2019. The Thrive 450 outdoor fitness station is seven different workouts combined into one free-standing piece of equipment. The apparatus makes use of body weight and gravity and accomplishes a variable workout without any moving parts. Hopewell is one of only two locations throughout the state with this cutting-edge equipment (along with the Virginia Tech campus). Make sure you check out this unique fitness opportunity once the park is complete.
HEAL Cities and Towns Platinum Status
The City of Hopewell earned its HEAL Platinum Status from the HEAL Cities and Towns Campaign. HEAL is an acronym for healthy eating and active living. The City of Hopewell became a HEAL City in 2015 when City Council passed a HEAL resolution, obligating the city to focus on healthy eating and active living as a vital part of its decision-making and policy development. The Recreation and Parks Department is the lead agency managing the HEAL initiatives and has progressively completed each level of recognition. The department's recent facility improvements, programmings, and policy development earned the top honors through the campaign. The City hopes to continue to find new ways to promote healthy eating and active lifestyles for all of its residents.