ParkTalk Podcast
ParkTalk Blog
  • 630-848-5000
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Vocational students grow with the Naperville Park District

Volunteers always have played a key role in the success of the Naperville Park District’s mission. From parent coaches to Santa House elves, volunteers support a variety of Park District programs. 

The role of a volunteer is expanding to include people of all abilities who want to gain valuable work experience while helping with maintenance and other tasks. 

Students from Metea Valley High School help at the Garden Plot gleaning in Oct. 2015

Partnership with High School Vocational Programs

Thanks to a partnership with School Districts 203 and 204, high school students with special needs who are enrolled in the vocational program volunteer regularly at the Park District. During a typical week, 3-5 high school students accompanied by adult coaches spend an hour each day cleaning the classrooms at the Alfred Rubin Riverwalk Community Center or at the Barn. They clean the floors, carpet, tables, chairs and counters.  The environmentally friendly cleaning supplies are safe to use, even if they accidentally are sprayed or spilled on the skin.

Alfred Rubin Riverwalk Community Center

 “In the beginning, students tend to be shy and unfamiliar with how to perform the tasks, but with some coaching and encouragement from staff, they learn what to do and become more comfortable. They learn the routine and where the supplies are and gradually reduce the time needed to complete the work. The best part is watching the students gain independence, confidence and experience.”

Volunteers in the Parks and Golf Courses

Other volunteers with special needs work outdoors at the Park District, removing invasive plants at Sindt Woods, sweeping the skate park at Frontier Sports Complex, and caring for the flower beds at Naperbrook Golf Course.

District 203 Special Education students help pull garlic mustard at Pioneer Park

Superintendent of Golf Operations Kevin Carlson spoke highly of a young man who helped with a variety of tasks at the golf courses. “He was full of energy and loved keeping busy,” said Carlson. “He planted flowers, weeded beds, filled divots, raked leaves, or cleaned.  He even assisted with our Chamber of Commerce outing, setting up tables and cleaning up, staying until 10 p.m. to help. He also loved golf, so would often play nine holes after he finished working.”

Naperbrook Golf Course

“It’s encouraging to see parents, teachers and park district staff work together to give kids the opportunity to learn valuable skills and gain experience for a future job while also making a difference at the Park District,” said Volunteer Coordinator Lynnette Hoole.

Employment Success Story

Craig Maki is especially excited about the success of one Neuqua Valley High school student with autism who joined his team as a paid, part-time employee earlier this year. The student, Liam Kirstein, cleans several buildings, helping with tasks such as emptying trash and recycling and cleaning table tops. 

“Liam has made great progress in his work and is a valuable member of our staff,” said Maki. “He is friendly and gets along well with his co-workers. I had the privilege of writing a recommendation for him for a residential program at the University of Iowa, and am pleased that he was accepted and will start next year.” 

Part-time employee Liam Kirstein works with recreation support staff Brian Eaton

Future Opportunities

The Park District plans to continue to provide opportunities for teens and adults of all abilities to gain skills and experience, both as volunteers and as employees. As the District grows, new facilities such as the Fort Hill Activity Center will help expand the opportunities for involving interested volunteers and new employees with a range of experience and abilities. 


Connect your business’s brand with a well-known and respected one like
the Naperville
Park District’s and reach a large, active and diverse audience.

To learn more about our sponsorship opportunities
contact Stacey Fontechia Sales and Sponsorship Manager at 630-848-3575 or at
Please consider making a donation of any amount to our Fee Assistance Program.
Your contribution will help Naperville residents in need enjoy the benefits of recreation programs.