Rec and Parks Department loses another to retirement

Photo by Timothy Ramsey

Rec and Parks Department loses another to retirement
November 22
11:24 2017

Already in 2017 the city of Winston-Salem and the Recreation and Parks Department has seen the retirement announcements of two dynamic figures, Art Blevins and Ben Piggott.  Unfortunately there is another legendary figure has decided to hang it up as well and that is Brian Manns who is currently the director of the Brown and Douglas Community Center.

Manns, who has been at Brown and Douglas since the beginning of the year, has been with the Recreation and Parks Department for the past 36 years and his last day will be on Nov. 30.  He is a native of Winston-Salem and grew up in the Happy Hill Gardens community.  He graduated from Parkland High School and is an alumnus of Winston-Salem State University.

“I started out teaching at Kernersville Junior High and I saw that teaching just wasn’t for me and I wanted something different so I applied to the recreation department,” Manns said.  “I grew up in recreation centers and I was attracted to them because they did a good job of steering the kids in the right direction and being there for them.

“Once I got hired, I moved up pretty quickly, and I began to really love what I was doing,” he continued.  “It is a very rewarding job especially when you see people change and the impact you have on their lives.”

Manns spent the bulk of his years in the Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks Department at the Sprague Street Community Center.  Not only was he only was he the director there but also taught classes in wood burning as well as the acoustic guitar.

According to Manns, during the summer of 2016 he started to entertain the idea of possibly retiring.  He says he just felt it was his time to hang it up.

“Something just told me that I had enough and after summer camp I contacted human resources,” he said.  “By January of this year I knew for sure and I decided it was time.”

Manns says he will miss so much about working with the Recreation and Parks Department.  From the people, co-workers and the kids he will have memories that will last a lifetime.

“I think I will always miss recreation and you will have to do this job to know what I am talking about,” said Manns.  “I don’t think you can do this job and not put your heart in it because you are dealing with people.”

“A lot of these kids come to us for love because they may have a difficult situation in their home life.  They come to the rec centers because they can see positive images and they can hear positive words.  So, we have a big impact on these people, and I am going to miss that.”

For Manns, he felt as though working with the kids over the years has kept him young.  He said there were not many dull moments with his job over the years.

The positive impact he has had on the kids is one of the things he is most proud of.  He says he feels even better when some of the kids that came through his camp come back years later and bring their kids to the camp.

“It’s flattering and humbling at the same time but it’s a good feeling to know you had that big of an impact on someone,” he said.  “When you run into adults that were kids at the center years ago and they run up to you and hug you and say thank you, it feels good.”

Ben Piggott, another soon to be retiree, says that Manns will be dearly missed in the Recreation and Parks Department.  He feels as though Manns was one of the most unheralded figures in the department because he does not seek acknowledgment for the things he does.

“Brian Manns has been a class act for the department and the thing about him is he is also a great musician,” said Piggott.  “Brian is a very caring person and I love him a lot.  I can’t say enough about him and I call him a gentle quite soul.

“Brian is a believer in being a mentor for children,” Piggott continued.  “When you have people like Brian and Art Blevins, those guys come from the heart and they don’t mind giving out of their own pockets to make sure kids get what they need, such as food or school supplies.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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