December 2021
The Spotlight: Dana Majors
Dana Majors and family, Build Day 2021
In this edition of The Volunteers’ Corner we are highlighting Prince George’s County resident Dana Majors. This fall, Dana and her family were a part of the volunteer team who - in partnership with KABOOM! - helped design and build the new Suitland Community Center playground. Dana says she remembers what playgrounds meant to her as a child and it’s important that the new generation have a fresh play space as well. “The children of the community needed a new place to play safely and have equipment that is as creative and athletic as neighboring communities have,” said Dana. She says when she found that community members could take part in creating a design and help build the playground, she hopped on the opportunity immediately. “I was so happy to find the survey that was posted on Facebook. I got my two younger children together to discuss and evaluate the designs,” said Dana. “They provided their feedback on the look, the feel and perception of how each piece would be used and benefit kids, and the spacing of each piece of equipment for social distancing,” Dana continued.
Build Day 2021
She says the community’s idea to include children in the design process allowed her children to use their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. “This is setting a tone of inclusion, their ideas and input matter and preparing them as future leaders,” said Dana. Not only was the activity a pleasure for her children, Dana says the project was just as exciting for her. “The request for community involvement made it all worthwhile for me and my family. It was the continuous communication and updates about the playground which were a delight,” she said. She says opportunities like this are uncommon. “Many times the community doesn’t feel included in the actual decisions of projects in their neighborhoods, and this can be disheartening.”
Designing and building the new Suitland Community Center playground brought the community closer. “This project allowed us to be active partners, and to be engaged,” said Dana. Not only did she and her children participate in the design process, so did her mother and aunt. “I was able to get buy-in from the eldest of the family my mother, 73, and aunt, 68. Three generations of my family have been involved in this project,” said Dana. Dana’s dedication didn’t stop there. She was onsite for the project and a part of the building team. “I was challenged to perform manual work that I’ve never done before, meet and greet with individuals I didn’t know, and build relationships quickly,” said Dana. “The work was hard at times, lifting and carrying heavy items, but the higher goal of building the playground outweighed the weight of the materials." It was all worth it at the end! Dana, along with many other volunteers, helped complete the new playground this fall. The Suitland Community Center playground is now open for children to enjoy. "It was such a wonderful and meaningful experience, which I am honored and humbled by, and only hope that future projects or activities the Department of Parks and Recreation plan, they will continue to keep community actively involved throughout the process,” said Dana. "It’s a win win scenario,” she continued.
News Flash
Keeping You Safe During COVID-19
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, M-NCPPC has taken the appropriate safety precautions to keep our employees and patrons safe while utilizing our facilities. We are continuing to prioritize your health and safety even as new variants of the virus surface. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccines prove to be the primary resource to reduce the risk of viral spread and death associated with the virus. The Commission stands on that belief and we made the decision to require all staff and volunteers to be fully vaccinated in order to work within the Department.

Here are a few other precautions we are taking to keep your health a priority:

  • Mask mandates as required within Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.
  • Additional sanitation procedures at all M-NCPPC facilities.
  • Requiring social distancing indoors and at outdoor events, when recommended.
  • Virtual Planning Board and Commission meetings.
  • We recognize that some employees will need exemptions due to bona fide medical or religious reasons, and we are implementing a process to review requests for such accommodations.

For additional information about the Commission's vaccine mandate, contact 301-699-2255.
Don't Miss The Festival of Lights
Create magical and unforgettable memories this season at the Winter Festival of Lights. It’s a three-mile dazzling holiday experience and a chance to see some of this holiday’s greatest light displays, all from the comfort of your own car. This year the Winter Festival of Lights has added the Enchanted Horse Drawn Carriage Rides. Space and tickets are limited so order yours before you miss out! Save money by purchasing tickets online. Cars can pay $8 with an online purchase or pay $10 at the gate.
In the Loop
The History of Kwanzaa
Join us virtually to learn the history of Kwanzaa and enjoy performances by the Malcolm X Drummers and Dancers! Did you know Kwanzaa is a weeklong African American holiday that officially begins the day after Christmas? The holiday was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach. After the Watts riots in Los Angeles Dr. Karenga was looking for ways to unite Black people. He began researching different African celebrations to incorporate into a holiday. He named the holiday Kwanzaa. It derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. The holiday is based on seven principles represented by candles. 

The seven principles are:

Unity: Umoja (oo–MO–jah)
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Self-determination: Kujichagulia (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah)
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

Collective Work and Responsibility: Ujima (oo–GEE–mah)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.

Cooperative Economics: Ujamaa (oo–JAH–mah)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Purpose: Nia (nee–YAH)
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Creativity: Kuumba (koo–OOM–bah)
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Faith: Imani (ee–MAH–nee)
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

The seven principles are a reminder to African Americans of their value, as well as the importance of coming together as a community. Each night of Kwanzaa the family gathers and a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara. Kwanzaa celebrations typically include song and dance, poetry readings and feasting. Click here for more information on how to join our virtual Kwanzaa celebrations.
Jumpstart Your New Year Fitness Goals: Hike Day
Get active for the new year and take part in Hike Day with Maryland State Parks! Join the community in First Week hike, hikes throughout the state from December 21, 2021- January 2, 2022. First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks that encourages all 50 states to offer outdoor hiking opportunities on the first day of the new year!

 Click here for more information on how to participate.
Volunteering For Your Health!
Are you looking to make some new year resolutions? Well did you know the more you volunteer, it can be good for your health and overall life? Volunteerism improves health by strengthening the body, improving mood, and lessening stress in participants. Those who volunteer regularly have a 27% better chance of gaining employment. 60% of hiring managers see the act of volunteerism as a valuable asset when making recruitment decisions according to a study performed by Career Builder. It’s true that volunteers make a big difference in the lives of others, but did you know volunteering also makes a huge impact on the volunteer’s personal life as well? Studies have proven that volunteering has major health benefits as well as positive outcomes on improving your social and people skills. Research conducted by the Mayo Health System say that while participating in this type of service, either within your community, inside or outside an organization, an individual may experience a helper’s high and increased trust in others. Other health benefits include lower stress levels, a boost in self-confidence, the decrease risk of depression and giving a person a sense of purpose. For older adults, volunteering can be life changing. The Longitudinal Study of Aging proved that people who volunteer have lower mortality rates than those who do not. Research shows that people with severe illnesses and diseases may experience declines in pain when volunteering with other who also have chronic illnesses. Since volunteering typically keeps you on your toes, moving around and using your thinking cap, you will be more physically and mentally active. That’s a benefit that works in the favor of young adults and seniors. If you or anyone you know is interested in volunteering opportunities with the department click here.
Don't Forget To Follow Us On Social Media!
Follow Parks and Recreation on social media to stay on top of everything happening in your community and find out how to join in on the fun!
Student Service-Learning
In 1992, Maryland became the first state in the nation to institute a requirement for all students to participate in service-learning before graduating from high school. It's not too soon to start earning hours. Sign up for student-service learning opportunities and record your hours here!
If you have questions about volunteering or student-service learning hours, contact [email protected].
If you have any ideas for upcoming newsletter features, contact [email protected].