Bernard Buchanan’s life is one of service and selflessness. The Detroit native began in service to his family, attending Cooley High School and Highland Park Community College to advance his education. Then came service to his country when Buchanan joined the Army and saw deployment to Germany, Korea, Texas and Washington State before retiring from the force. But, it wasn’t until during his phase of service in the labor market, following retirement, that Buchanan would realize his deepest calling.
“When my service was over in the military, I came back to Washington and worked construction and even worked on a fishing boat in Alaska,” he says. “In between trips on the fishing boat, I worked for the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Citywide Youth Program. While working in the parks youth program unit, I felt like, this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” And, since 1997, Buchanan has been happily serving his community as recreation leader with Seattle Parks and Recreation, not to mention becoming a state-registered foster parent to 17 children, getting engaged to his fiancée, and caring for his five other children. We were honored to learn more about Buchanan’s profound commitment to advancing equity, supporting at-risk youth and how he hopes to serve his community into the future.
Parks & Recreation magazine: Tell us about your day-to-day duties.
Bernard Buchanan: As a recreation leader at [Seattle Parks and Recreation’s] Miller Community Center, I recruit teens for our indoor/outdoor recreation programs and teach them that life is full of choices. I am here to help them make the best one for them. I also assist in the development and implementation of sports programs for all ages as well as community special events.
P&R: What’s the most enjoyable aspect of your job?
Buchanan: [Knowing] that I am making a positive influence in the lives of the young children and that will have a major impact on the future of the world that we live in.
P&R: What’s most challenging?
Buchanan: Meeting teenagers who are influenced by negative people and thoughts and getting them to channel those thoughts into something positive.
P&R: Where do you see the field of parks and recreation headed?
Buchanan: The future is very bright. Parks and recreation is continuing to grow [as a field] and becoming better known, recognized and supported within communities for being a safe, welcoming space for learning, growing and just being for all and everyone — particularly families. I personally see Seattle Parks and Recreation headed toward being a place where Seattle and surrounding cities will be embraced by our beautiful, well-kept parks and programs and want to be part of the many activities that we have to offer.
P&R: What’s one professional goal you’d like to achieve in the next year?
Buchanan: To build more relationships with other service providers (i.e., Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA, YWCA, and public/private schools, etc.) within the city and get those members to realize that [parks and recreation are] here for everyone and anyone.
Samantha Bartram is the Executive Editor of Parks & Recreation magazine.