Our member spotlight blog series features a Manassas Park Community Center member and their family. We hope that by sharing member stories we continue to work towards building an environment that embraces community.
Nancy and her family have been All Access Passport members of the Manassas Park Community Center since 2014. Over their time with Parks and Recreation, they have participated in dozens of different programs ranging from language, fitness, crafts, and music. In this spotlight, Nancy shares what brought her to the Manassas Park Community Center and some of her family’s favorite programs.
How did you hear about the Manassas Park Community Center?
We had lived very close by for some time, but didn’t realize the Community Center was here. One day, my family and I went out for Chinese food and thought it might be fun to have a picnic so I googled nearby parks. I was surprised to learn how close Costello Park was to where we lived. We came to picnic and as we parked discovered this giant building and had to look inside. We fell in love with the Community Center almost immediately.
Why did you choose to get the All Access Passport?
One of my favorite things about the Community Center is how many programs are offered. When we first got the membership, I wanted my children and I to participate in as many programs as possible. I wanted to sign them up for everything. The All Access Passport allowed me to do that without having to pay a ton of money. For my family of seven, it’s the most affordable way for everybody to get to do something.
What are some of the activities you and your family participate in at the Community Center?
As I mentioned, we have done so many different things, but I’m really into pickleball right now. My kids love to swim so they’ve all had swimming lessons. They also loved the Arabic class when you offered it, and some of their other favorite classes are piano lessons, Regina’s arts and crafts classes, and break dance with Jose.
Tell me more about pickleball. What got you interested in pickleball?
When I would go to the fitness rooms to work out in the morning, I would notice people playing pickleball in the gym, but they were always older so I thought it was a program only for seniors. One day I saw Introduction to Pickleball offered in the adult section so I decided to take it. I fell in love with it from day one and I come almost every day they have it – which is four times a week! It’s a lot of fun and such a great work out. It’s very popular with the seniors, but anybody is welcome to play.
You’ve mentioned before that break dance is one of your children’s favorite programs. What got them interested in it and why do they continue taking it?
My children’s fitness is very important to me, so when I first signed them up, it was because I wanted them to get exercise. I wasn’t expecting them to love the class as much as they do. To be honest, they really stayed because they really like the instructor, Jose. He’s so good with kids. He’s really patient and encourages the kids to come out of their shell.
About a year ago, there was a break dance tournament in DC and Jose encouraged them to enter. When we got there, we were shocked to see there were 400 other kids participating. I was so proud of my kids. Even though they were nervous and the crowd was huge, they still went out and performed. Jose was there, of course, to provide support. It was such a good experience. For Jose, he wanted my kids to learn more about the culture surrounding break dance. For me, I noticed it helped build my children’s confidence and helped them be more outgoing. My oldest child even won second place!
Have any of your kids been in summer camps here at the Community Center?
Yes, my two teens participated in summer camps one year. It was a great opportunity for my kids to meet other teens their own age and, again, helped them open up. Their favorite camps were Which Way’s the Water camp and the Team Building camp. As I said before, they love swimming and being outdoors. They also really liked all the activities the Team Building camp had that helped them get to know other people and themselves better.
Have you taken your family to any of our special events? If so, which ones were your favorites?
My kids absolutely love Trunk or Treat. Free candy and you don’t have to walk all over a neighborhood? It’s such an easy decision. Plus you have all these activities and games. It keeps my kids busy and safe and I don’t have to walk all over the neighborhood trying to get candy.
The other event my kids loved was the new Glow in the Park after Dark event. My youngest is still talking about it and it was almost a month ago. They thought it was a really fun idea and really loved the DJ and dancing under the black lights at the pavilion. That was such a great idea for an event. I hope you do it again next year.
Aside from coming to the Community Center, what are other activities you and your family do together? Any advice for families trying to stick to tight budgets?
In our area, everything is so expensive that’s why we love going to parks. Parks are a great way to spend time with your family without spending a lot of money. We visit all kinds of parks including the Shenandoah. We love being outdoors so that’s a great area to get away from technology. We’ve camped and even gone tubing in the river. You don’t always have to go to the fanciest place for your kids to have a good time.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the area?
Honestly, I cook at home for almost all of our meals, but I really like Pho 234 in Manassas.
If you could visit any country, which one would it be?
I actually really like to travel. It’s important to me that my kids get to travel with me and experience new people and cultures. If you know where to look and how to plan, you can travel very affordably. I like traveling so much that I’ll screencap photos of places on Instagram that I want to see in person. I’ve been really considering visiting Italy and the surrounding islands lately. There are so many historical buildings I’d really like to see.
For somebody who has never been to the Community Center, what’s something you would recommend?
It’s really hard to recommend just one thing because you offer so much. You have something for everyone. I always tell people to get the membership especially if they have a large family. You can save so much money and keep your whole family busy.
When I first signed up, I really wanted to focus on my fitness and because my youngest children weren’t even in preschool at the time I needed somewhere my kids could go while I was working out. Your Kids Korner was probably the most important amenity to make that happen. Being able to leave my kids with you for a couple hours while I work out or take a class is invaluable.
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