TIME TO GO: Betti Anne McVey holds a quilt with five of her grandchildren just after it was introduced to her through her final day on the position as Stafford Township’s recreation director June 30. (Provided Photos)
Someday back in the 1980s, Betti Anne McVey resolved it was time to alter up some items about the once-a-year Halloween parade in Stafford Township.
“I considered it would be a excellent idea to have a Halloween party at the Oxycocus Faculty somewhat than a parade,” claimed McVey, who at the close of June retired and remaining driving the recreation department she had directed for 38 several years. “The occasion was an utter failure. It was a nightmare.”
That distinct program lasted 1 getaway, but through the earlier couple of many years so lots of additional of McVey’s visions led to fruitful attain inside the town’s borders. And, no, it was never ever a one-person effort and hard work, but it was just one particular person steering the ship.
“Stafford Township wouldn’t be what it is right now devoid of her impact,” mentioned Jennifer McBrien, an assistant to McVey for 28 yrs. “When she took above the placement, she worked intently with Carl Block, who was mayor at the time, to establish on the visions they both of those had for the city as it grew. If not for her visions, I’m not positive we’d have as considerably as we do in Stafford.”
When she was employed by Block in 1984 – “he saw something in me and encouraged me to hold going for several years,” she said – Stafford Township looked starkly diverse, as did the recreation department’s programs.
“We did some summertime camps and visits for seniors, but we did not have any group facilities however, and athletic offerings were being limited,” she mentioned. “Doc Cramer Park experienced two baseball fields and a soccer discipline. We experienced two parks in town, full. That was it.”
Throughout the following 10 a long time, Stafford grew. A lot more housing was formulated, and infrastructure enhanced. Households from all around commenced pouring in. Via it all, McVey retained her vision apparent.
FAREWELL: Betti Anne McVey celebrates with new recreation director Jason Hazelton.
“The attitude was that we could have a potpourri of factors to do for individuals of all ages, from young young children to seniors and all people in concerning,” she mentioned. “Fortunately, we’ve experienced extremely number of applications that have not sustained themselves in excess of the several years. A lot of the sporting activities in town now started off inside of the recreation office and turned unbiased associations as they grew. We extra a bunch of senior programs, and most of them have been close to 30-additionally many years. Our summer season camp expanded into this enormous procedure, and so quite a few new packages were being brought in to serve the group.
“But all this transpired mainly because we labored properly with other departments in city and had an outstanding amount of money of assistance for no matter what we required to consider.”
From senior dances to youth occasions, the yearly Xmas tree lights to a lot more than a dozen sports plans, alongside with all the gatherings that introduced the local community collectively, McVey and her recreation crew kept pushing boundaries and aimed to increase almost everything they touched.
“She never explained no to any thoughts the rest of us came up with,” McBrien claimed. “She gave us the possibility to try out new points, and if it didn’t get the job done, then it didn’t function. But a whole lot of matters worked, and we retained them heading. Betti Anne in no way did anything for herself. She generally tried out to give the people in city the most valuable courses we could appear up with, for their pleasure and fulfillment.”
Jason Hazelton, who’s stepped into the position of recreation director after remaining with the division for almost 21 many years, explained McVey provided room for him to improve in his part by offering him “a great deal of innovative freedom” with the children’s programming.
“She always taught us to continuously appraise what was heading on and modify it up in tiny means so it didn’t get stale,” he said. “She did not say certainly to issues just to say sure and pacify any person. She reported of course with the intent that we could do some thing else to advantage the neighborhood, to give people today a thing that could profit them.
REC-ING CREW: Betti Anne McVey (standing middle) with her group from the recreation department, (from remaining) Jason Hazelton, Deb Budesa and Jennifer McBrien.
“Betti Anne usually experienced belief and religion in us, even if we didn’t get a thing particularly ideal. She was hardly ever worried to permit us falter. We have a remarkable foundation because of her, and we can only develop from right here.”
But producing an influence within Stafford Township has gone nicely over and above building more recreation packages for its citizens. When Superstorm Sandy ravaged the area, it was McVey’s recreation crew helping townspeople get fundamental necessities and cooking for others shacked up at a single of the local community facilities. As the COVID-19 pandemic surged, it was McVey’s section that established a front-line exertion to summon volunteers eager to get necessities for several seniors who remained in shut quarters to steer clear of probable contamination. Just about every 12 months, the recreation section has partnered with the regional PBA to help people acquire presents for Xmas and coats for the winter season as very well.
“Sure, we managed all the recreation courses and produced sure the men and women in city experienced a lot to do and get pleasure from,” McVey said. “But the job, for me, went way over and above recreation. It was about bringing individuals with each other, escalating a group together and building interactions with people today. And it is the associations that definitely made the difference, for the reason that then it is not just groups of individuals getting entertaining and increasing with each other. All that working experience jointly will make you a spouse and children. Which is what I really cherished about this task.”
Mayor Greg Myhre explained McVey’s initiatives to develop a group all over the recreation department’s work additional up to a vocation of great value to the town.
“The a must have enable the SHIP (Stafford Helps Its People) program presented to citizens throughout the COVID-19 pandemic was operate by her section and is a additional testomony to her leadership and wonderful local community spirit,” he reported. “Betti Anne has experienced a large vocation at Stafford Township. She will be skipped.”
Maybe most by McBrien, who referred to McVey as “independent, truthful, trustworthy and remarkable.”
“She was like a 2nd mom to me,” she stated. “It’s so good for her to final get to retire and enjoy much more issues in her lifetime, but I’m really heading to pass up her. She’s been my go-to human being for so lots of things that go way over and above recreation.”
And McVey has carried out her greatest to put together Hazelton and McBrien to carry the torch from listed here, as they, too, carry on to create Stafford around its recreation programming.
“The legacy Betti Anne is leaving is that emotion of what Stafford Township is to so numerous, and the purpose why people want to are living below,” Hazelton said. “That experience when the parade methods off at Founders Working day. That feeling when individuals occur together following months of not looking at every other, with warmth and hugs, at Harvest Pageant. That emotion and perception of relatives within just the neighborhood, whether or not you’ve been in this article your complete daily life or just moved to town. Our town grew to become much more of a spouse and children due to the fact of Betti Anne.”
Of program, McVey does not fairly see it that way.
“I do not seem at anything at all I’ve done right here as a legacy,” she mentioned, smiling. “I truly feel like I was the steward of a ship for a little whilst and I’m just handing it more than to the upcoming human being. I never ever did anything at all by myself. We have terrific folks operating in this city and a wonderful crew in the recreation section, and we all perform jointly incredibly properly for the profit of the city. I’ve experienced my element in it, but when you dig underneath it all, there is a lot going on below. It’s just a wonderful city.”