Local recreation wouldn’t be the same without PARC Foundation

Local restaurant Holdren's Steaks & Seafood is donating a portion of their October proceeds to provide Junior Lifeguards program scholarships through the PARC Foundation.

Local restaurant Holdren’s Steaks & Seafood is donating a portion of their October proceeds to provide Junior Lifeguards program scholarships through the PARC Foundation.

It’s hard to imagine Santa Barbara without the many open spaces and recreational opportunities that we have at our fingertips. While it often seems like a given, many of the community programs and public venues important to our lives would not be the same without the consistent efforts of the Parks And Recreation Community Foundation (PARC Foundation).

Since 1986, the organization has faithfully fundraised to help enrich the lives of local Santa Barbarians through the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. It’s next to impossible to live here and not be touched by the department’s services in one way or another.

That’s no joke. The list of venues managed and supported by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department is long. It includes the Carrillo Recreation Center, Los Banos Pool, Skater’s Point, the Cabrillo Bathhouse and Arts Pavilion, Douglas Family Preserve, Dwight Murphy Field, the Westside Community Center, Alice Keck Park, and Mackenzie Park to name just a few.

The community programs – such as Concerts in the Park and the Youth Arts Alliance – are equally diverse and fit into the department’s mission of promoting healthy lifestyles and education.

“The PARC foundation believes that those things are essential for us and our mission is to make sure those things continue,” says Foundation Director Judith Cook McCaffrey.

Junior Lifeguards

Junior Lifeguard programs teach water safety and provide strenuous fitness training for youths aged 9-to-17.

In support of its cause, Holdren’s Steaks & Seafood on State Street will be donating a portion of its proceeds from the month of October to the PARC Foundation. Holdren’s has specifically directed the money to go towards scholarships for the Junior Lifeguard program.

To attract participation, Holdren’s is making available a special offer through a promotion with CentralCoastDining.com. For $54, one can purchase a full dinner for 2 that has a normal value of $90. Learn more about the offer?HERE

“I think people sometimes take things for granted not realizing that they could go away,” McCaffrey said. “We feel like parks are really important to our quality of life.”

The importance of the PARC Foundation is not lost on the City’s Waterfront Aquatics Supervisor Rich Hanna, who runs Junior Guards.

“If we didn’t have the PARC foundation, we wouldn’t be able to do these programs and events,” Hanna said.

Santa Barbara’s Junior Lifeguards is widely considered a special gem. The nationally recognized program has been training local youth for over 40 years. While most costs are covered by the city?s budget and/or fees, extra funds for safety equipment and scholarship money is needed to maintain the program?s high standards.

?(The PARC Foundation) kept us thriving when the city was going through its budget problems,? Hanna said.

Last year, Junior Lifeguards had 271 youths participate in the seven-week camp.

“We believe in balancing physical fitness and development with self-esteem, camaraderie and fun,” Hanna explains. “The seven weeks allow staff to mentor, coach and build on skills that enforce beach safety, marine biology, oceanography, and most importantly life-saving skills.”

Hanna says over 90 percent of his current Jr. Lifeguard instructors are program alumni, a testament to the strong bonds that are created from the powerful experience.

“I personally believe that any Junior Lifeguard program provides a wealth of benefits for participants,” Hanna said. “So many new friendships are made through Jr. Lifeguard programs, and because so many of these programs cross school lines that when kids are transitioning from different elementary to Jr. High Schools they often start the school year with friends who they have met at Jr. Lifeguards.”

Learn more about the PARC Foundation or the services and programs provided by the Parks and Recreation Department HERE