08/16/07 — New parks/rec director wants to hear ideas

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New parks/rec director wants to hear ideas

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on August 16, 2007 1:45 PM

New Recreation and Parks Director Sonya Shaw was anxious about leaving Chapel Hill and coming to Goldsboro, but that anticipation was nothing compared to the trials she went through before earning the job.

While pregnant with her now 8-month-old son, doctors told her she had a lump in her breast. She had breast cancer.

Mrs. Shaw went through a series of treatments -- the last one a week before she started her current position.

This was only a month ago.

Now, she is ready to move past her fight with cancer and embark on a new beginning in Goldsboro.

Mrs. Shaw, 36, her husband and her son are also closer to family members who live in Washington and Garner.

"Goldsboro was a good fit for us," she said. "We liked the division with the military being here and the city being here. It's a good mix."

And she is ready to make the area even better.

"The potential here is exciting, and the opportunity for growth is amazing," she said. "It is a good working environment. There are good people here. It's going to be good once we all get adjusted."

Mrs. Shaw has been meeting with citizens who have been here for many years and special populations to see what they believe is needed in the city's parks and recreation offerings.

"I'm excited about the parks," she said. "I am always interested in how a community can increase their recreation areas. We have to make sure we are doing what we can to provide the citizens with what they need."

She has been trying to network, seeing where the city is and what groups can work together in the future.

Her biggest push is partnerships.

"Nobody has a whole lot of money," she said of the cities and towns across the country. But she said she believes that partnering the city with businesses and organizations will help them both, creating awareness of the business and improvement of the city.

As a self-proclaimed festival and events person, Mrs. Shaw wants to bring more of what makes Chapel Hill great to Goldsboro, and that starts with more community activities for all ages.

But she warned that current parks and facilities must be maintained first and foremost.

"Of course, we would love to have more parks," she said, "but we have to take care of what we have first and make sure we have the resources to maintain them."

Mrs. Shaw is anxious to start making her mark on the community, and brings plenty of experience with her in that department.

She has a bachelor's degree in recreation administration from University of North Carolina and two master's degrees from North Carolina Central University, one in public administration and one in counseling.

Starting her career in athletic programming, Mrs. Shaw moved to do community-based programming.

"I always believe you have to give something back to where you came from," she said.

In Chapel Hill, Mrs. Shaw was the communication, celebration, arts and program supervisor, where she managed everything from pottery and art to special events and special populations as well as the marketing division.

"They just called us 'slash' because we did so many things," she said of her former division.

Mrs. Shaw said she is content with her current position.

"I love it," she said. "I wouldn't trade what I do for the world. I work and have fun doing it."