By Angelica LaVito – August 15, 2014
The Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association held its first-ever job fair at the Highland Park Public Library on Aug. 12.
The organization hosted the job fair to find individuals interested in helping with the NSSRA’s recreation programs for children and adults with disabilities. NSSRA partners with the park districts of Deerfield, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Northbrook, Northfield, Wilmette and Winnetka, the cities of Highwood and Lake Forest and the Village of Riverwoods to provide recreation programs for those with disabilities who live in the partner communities.
“We do all of the programming, all of the staff work for us,” Darleen Negrillo, NSSRA’s manager of human resources, said. “The only difference [between us and a park district] is all of our programs are done in our of our partner agencies.”
The list of programs offered is extensive, with upcoming special events such as a trip to the Milwaukee Zoo, a bowling tournament and dinner and a movie. Similar to a park district, NSSRA also offers ongoing programs such as horseback riding, private piano lessons and choir.
Aside from traditional programming, NSSRA also offers inclusion services, in which a person with disabilities participates in their own community’s recreation programming but with an NSSRA staff member at their side.
For the fall, NSSRA is looking for traditional program helpers as well as inclusion companions.
“Hopefully we can find some really good staff that we can get interviewed and get them set up in the process and hopefully get some good offers going,” Negrillo said. “If we can get a handful of people from this [job fair] and a handful of people from the one in Glenview, we would be great for the fall.”
Negrillo joined NSSRA after she left the corporate world and said it was a refreshing change. She enjoys working with the community in a friendly environment while working to improve programs and ensure NSSRA is helping their participants to the best of their ability.
She emphasized that although staff members’ main priority is keeping participants safe, a large component is having fun while making someone else’s day more enjoyable.
“You’re very involved with the participants in your programs,” Negrillo said. “They become a very huge part of your life, so if you’re great with them and they like you, you can have a very large impact on our participants.”
Negrillo said putting NSSRA out in the community is the biggest challenge, and the job fair was a way to get their name out there and hopefully find more employees.
Highland Park was chosen for the first job fair because it is closer to the northern communities NSSRA serves. Their second job fair serving the communities further south was held Aug. 20 at the Glenview Public Library.
“If they enjoy working with people, if they enjoy making others’ lives happier, being more involved in the community this is definitely a position for that,” Negrillo said.
Those interested in applying for a job with NSSRA but missed the job fairs do not have to worry, as they can apply online at www.nssra.org.