Staff Chats: Sarah Gagne, Recreation

21 May 2020

Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

What’s been the most challenging part of your job the last several weeks?

SG: The most challenging thing for me has been building new relationships with my co-workers through a virtual environment. I started working at the City just one week before facility closures and the beginning of the Stay-at-Home order from the Governor. I am somewhat of an introvert by nature, yet I thrive on deep, meaningful relationships and was initially worried that I may miss out on many of the first steps in building connections with others on my team. I am fortunate to have joined an already very strong team that values communication. Not forgetting to have fun in the workplace, the Recreation Department also holds virtual Friday “5:01” meetings as a casual opportunity to socialize and get to know one another!

What would you recommend for folks looking to stay active during Safer at Home?

SG: I have to admit that it has been tough for me, even with a background in recreation, to stay active while working from home. I have found the most success by scheduling physical activity into my plan for the day. By scheduling a morning dog walk, an afternoon bike ride, or an evening online yoga class, I am more apt to make the conscious effort to actually take a break and go do it.

My recommendation is to look for what is normal and natural in your routine, and not to necessarily strive to learn a new skill or achieve hefty goals right now. What times during the day do you find yourself feeling the most bored, lonely, overwhelmed or stressed? And what activities do you already know and enjoy that are easily accessible? Replacing the times that my mind tends to focus on emotion with a scheduled physical activity has given me an outlet to let it go and continue moving forward. I would also recommend involving others in your household (especially the kids!) in your activity plans. We all work better with encouragement and support – maybe this could be a way to gift that to your loved ones and also receive a bit of that needed push in return. Also, if group fitness is your thing, the Recreation Department is hosting virtual fitness classes for free through the month of May – get yourself signed up online today!

What’s your favorite thing about our Fort Collins community?

SG: I grew up in a very small town in Vermont and moved to Fort Collins to attend CSU over 20 years ago. It’s definitely true that so many people come here for college and never end up leaving – I am also guilty of that! There are so many things about our Fort Collins community that have made this the best place for me to live, raise a family and start a career. I think the combination of a small town feel within a larger, City structure is ideal. There is something here for everyone – nature enthusiasts, artistic and creative souls, young children and kids at heart. People not only say hello when we pass on my morning walks, but they are also great friends and neighbors who are there to help when times are tough. I love that a regular occurrence on my street is a group text asking for items we can share or donate, sharing recommendations of available services, and kids showing off their creativity to make signs for the next neighborhood dog party. I am proud to call Fort Collins my home, especially now as we navigate life changes due to COVID-19.

What’s been the most rewarding part of your job the last several weeks?

SG: A funny thing, is that the part of my job I found the most challenging in the beginning has actually created an experience that I am also very grateful for and has been very rewarding. In addition to daily meetings with my immediate team members, I have also been able to “meet” many people that work in various departments across the City, several of which I may not have been introduced to were it not for the challenges we are currently facing. I have been able to build relationships with colleagues in other departments of our Community Services division, and also work with some incredible people in our Human Resources and Social Sustainability departments. Outside of the City, I have had the opportunity to support our Recreation programs through partnership with Poudre School District, which is enabling us to operate our summer childcare program, Camp FunQuest. While our recreation facilities are closed, we will host modified summer camps at a local elementary school. Beginning all of these new relationships has been incredibly rewarding, mostly because I know that when we are finally able to meet in person, we will always remember the bond we created while working together to serve our community and live out our personal passions in community services.

What do you miss most about life before COVID?

SG: I know I said I was an introvert, but I think I miss human interactions the most! Maybe I will start exhibiting more extroverted tendencies when this is all over! I cannot wait to get back to in-person book club meetings, gathering with friends at Horsetooth Reservoir for doggy play dates, and enjoying dinners out at all of our amazing local eateries. Hang in there, friends. We will meet up again soon!


Sarah also has questions for YOU. Check out the discussion on Staying Active!

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