Patti Machado’s love for parks and recreation can only be matched by her love for her hometown of Barnstable, Massachusetts. She has participated in the town’s recreation department activities since the age of 3 when she began swim lessons.
By high school, Machado was taking a class, called P.E. Major, learning the different disciplines of physical education — a class, she admits, “opened the door,” to her future career path. Today, Machado not only serves as director of recreation for the Town of Barnstable, but also acts as a mentor to promising, young recreation professionals.
Parks & Recreation magazine recently caught up with Machado to learn about the most challenging aspect of her job, her proud accomplishment in 2018 and one new program that her agency will be launching in 2019.
Parks & Recreation: What’s the most challenging part about your job?
Patti Machado: I would say over the past year, it’s been about running our beaches, trying to get 105 lifeguards and having them trained and able to do waterfront lifeguarding.
P&R: Reflecting on 2018, what’s one accomplishment that you’re most proud of and why?
Machado: We had a successful rescue at our beach, where we had a 17-year-old lifeguard and four other lifeguards rescue and save a 17-year-old girl from drowning. She had a seizure in the water, and the 17-year-old lifeguard, the primary rescuer, performed CPR and revived her. So, it was pretty rewarding to watch staffers, who had completed their training, be successful. It changes the entire attitude toward lifeguards from the community, as well as among lifeguards who are working throughout the area. That’s because it doesn’t just affect your own county, it affects all the communities on Cape Cod. And so, people start looking at lifeguards as more professional — as they should.
P&R: Can you share details about one new program that you will be launching in 2019?
Machado: We have a youth center that’s 10 years old, and we just got a grant for an afterschool program. It’s a joint effort with our schools, in which kids, grades 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th, will be bused to our youth center every afternoon. The program will provide them with healthy snacks and physical activities, while the schools will help with homework tutoring. It’s a free program that will launch in the Fall 2019 school year.
P&R: Tell us one fun fact about yourself.
Machado: Last year, I completed my 42nd summer. I love working with youth, and I’m still passionate about it after 42 years. I think that says a lot about the communities I serve and their level of support. I do a lot of mentoring within the profession, and I’m feeling pretty good about the fact that many professionals who work in the [recreation field] on Cape Cod either grew up here or got their first opportunity to work in recreation through [my agency]. A lot of people who are directors now in other towns are people who I had mentored and worked with first. There are a lot of people who have stayed in the field. So, as long as I’m passionate, then I’ll stay too.
Vitisia Paynich is a Freelance Writer for Parks & Recreation magazine