Kim McManus is the Senior Program Supervisor at the Sheldon Community Center in Eugene, Ore. She has worked at the center in some form since 1995. To read the full-length story about the Sheldon Community Center, click here. To view the accompanying photo story, click here.
Where are you from originally? Where did you attend college? When did you move to Eugene?
I grew up in Joseph OR – 900 people and a lot more cows! My graduating class was 24. I have Communications, Psychology & Education degrees from Northwest Christian University -although the bulk of my classes were at UO. I moved to Eugene in 1989 to attend college.
You run the Track Town tent at Oregon track meets. Why did you start that and what do you like best about it?
My booth is called the Starting Block and is designed to provide hands-on opportunities for youth and families to experience the meet. Kids will run, jump (long & vertical) and throw turbo javelins and foam discs at targets. They learn about the legacy of Track Town and the get excited about being active and then watching the athletes on the track and in the field. Parents learn a great deal as well. Many are surprised at the weight of a shot-put or have never seen a javelin up close. During the larger meets, like the USATF Championships coming up, we often will have a display of the height athletes jump for the high jump. It is impressive. The City of Eugene Recreation program supports Track Town in this way because it is important for youth to be active as well as learn about Eugene’s legacy. All of us can run, jump or throw in some way and the accessibility of the support can provide healthy activity for a lifetime.
Did you run track in high school?
I ran a 3K once. My coach came over, congratulated me on finishing and suggested I try throwing a discus. I lettered because I was 4th out of 4 in the 3K. The following season, I served on the rally squad. As un-amazing as my beginning experiences were, I learned a great deal about work ethic from my experiences. And, I definitely have a great appreciation for what I see from athletes at Hayward Field – they amaze me!
What are some things you like to do when you’re not working?
Not working – there is a concept. I think my family would say I work all the time. It’s only because I love what I do. I supervise 40 fantastic employees, manage Sheldon Community Center and volunteer my time with Track Town. It keeps me busy. In my spare time, I love watching movies, being in the outdoors and being with my family. I also write individualized songs for chronic and terminally ill kids as part of my work with Songs of Love. I enjoy speaking with the families and providing them a “musical hug” that is unique to them. My husband produces and masters the projects – we have done about 300 of them.
What is your favorite part about living in Eugene?
The people and the location. My job connects me to amazing people and families. I enjoy making people happy and providing a safe place for kids to grow and develop. I love the location too, an hour from the beach or an hour from the snow. The college adds a great deal to the town as well – I enjoy that.
Can you tell me a funny anecdote about the center?
There are so many. We (the staff) have a great time together and seem to laugh the most when the stress is the highest. It is really a unique environment – a lot like family. Working with kids (2 1/2 yrs – 5th grade) there is always a funny statement or situation. Also, my direct phone number contains the same digits as the Spay/Neuter clinic. I receive weekly mis-dialed phone calls that begin with – “I need to neuter my cat, dog or whatever.” I always gently explain the confusion and transfer the call. During my first year as a supervisor, I created signs that described our work goals and we posted them in every room. They read, “We support and neuter kids!” Spell check got the best of me that day.
Working at the center, is there anything that is always the best part of your day?
The best part of my day is when I can help a child. I love making a difference in their lives. Sometimes, it is as simple as making them feel comfortable. Other times, it is providing a listening ear as they share some pretty devastating stuff. My favorite is when a Mom or Dad are at their wits’ end trying to find a program to help their child and we find success. Sometimes I know we have changed a life. Sometimes, we do not see the immediate impact, but know somewhere down the road that time we spent with them will impact them. It is really awesome.
As the center’s supervisor, what are some things that you think could be improved?
First, we are lucky to have the facilities and people we have working at Sheldon. But, the reality is our facility is need of updating – including Sheldon Pool and we continue to have more demand for services than we can financially provide. I am sure it isn’t a surprising list. I would love to have more classroom space, an updated fitness area, indoor pool amenities and new playground equipment. And since you asked, a Dutch Brothers and Cafe Yumm on-site wouldn’t be bad either!