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Center's new director has big plans for future

June 12, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Her future plans include expanding programming at Memorial Recreation Center and fundraising.

For now, she's focused on opening the pool and having enough lifeguards.

Kimberly Buchanan recently was named executive director of the recreation center on West North Avenue in Hagerstown, replacing Ruth Ann Monroe, who was director for more than 25 years before her death last year.

The center's after-school program is open three days each week, and when summer camp begins in one week, 60 campers are expected to be enrolled.

"Right now, we're just doing a lot of cleaning to get the building ready for summer camp," Buchanan said.

She's also been busy making sure the pool passed a recent inspection and overseeing the training of two lifeguards.

"The pool makes the center," Buchanan said. "It really adds so much. I'm getting calls every day asking if the pool is open."

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It will be open when camp begins, if not before, she said.

Buchanan was working as teen coordinator at Girls Inc. of Washington County before taking the position at the recreation center. She also worked for six years at the American Red Cross, mostly in an administrative capacity. Some of her work there was for the recreation center.

"I did classes here and would help in the summer," Buchanan said.

Aside from improving programming for the children who attend the after-school program, Buchanan said the building has the potential to be used all day.

"I want a community building here," she said. "We'll have GED courses for adults during the day and after-school activities for the kids. This building can be used all day."

Buchanan said she would like to expand the after-school program to five days each week and begin taking the children on field trips. A van was donated to the center recently.

When she accepted the position, Buchanan said she was intimidated because of the legacy of the center's previous executive director.

"She was a wonderful person," she said of Monroe. "She always opened the center, so the children had a place to be."

Even when funding was limited, Buchanan said that Monroe managed to keep the center open for the children and the community.

The building has been used since the 1960s. Before that, recreation activities were provided at a park on Sumans Avenue.

To ensure that she is able to accomplish what she has planned for the center, Buchanan said she has formed partnerships with area organizations that can provide presentations and other activities.

"I like to write grants," she said. "And we'll do some fundraising. The potential for the building is limitless."

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