A large crowd of people gathered at Baker's Court Restaurant Wednesday afternoon to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Storm Lake Community Ed program, also known as Comm "UNITY" Education.
The celebration, held from 4 to 6 p.m., was open to all those in town with an interest in the program, and Pat Fisher, the Recreation Director of the organization, said it was a chance for the people of Storm Lake to recognize a program which has touched many lives in the town.
"Most of the people in town with kids are familiar with this, because we help organize nearly all of the recreation programs in Storm Lake," Fisher said. "But we also work with Partners in Excellence, AmeriCorps, the after-school program, and other worthy causes in Storm Lake."
Nineteen AmeriCorps members are currently serving the Storm Lake area through service at 24 agency-sponsored programs, and the recreation program sponsors 12 youth programs, youth camps in 12 sports, five adult recreation leagues and 24 programs for both youth and adults.
The Community Education program began in 1991 after many saw a need for a centralized agency to help organize all of the multiple recreation and social programs previously headed by separate entities.
A partnership between the city and Storm Lake School District, the staff has grown from a director and part-time secretary to five full-time employees, and Fisher said volunteer numbers have also skyrocketed to around 600 last year.
"The efforts we receive from our volunteers around the community are just tremendous," Fisher said. "We have volunteers in the classrooms, coaches who give their time for our rec programs, and many people who donate their time and resources to help these children out in a whole host of social programs. It's really great to see."
The tenth anniversary party was originally scheduled to be held last winter, but organizers decided to push it back to the fall to connect with citizens close to the start of the school year, when more parents may have their first encounter with the program and be encouraged to volunteer themselves.
It's also a way for Fisher and the other coordinators to express their gratitude to the town.
"We think it's a good way to say thank you to everyone in the community," Fisher said. "It's been great to receive so much support."
For more information on the Community Education program, people may visit the main office at 419 Lake Avenue, call (712) 732-5711 or send mail to P.O. Box 638 in Storm Lake.