What are Barrington’s recreational, educational and leisure assets? Where are the gaps in these services? How can groups and sports leagues better collaborate and communicate with each other to build a stronger sense of community in Barrington?
Representatives of about a dozen organizations tossed around these questions and more at a “community focus group” in Town Hall on Thursday morning, Sept. 19. It was hosted by the Barrington Recreation Department and facilitated by Cindy McDermott, chief operating officer of the Greater Providence YMCA.
The focus group was a follow-up to several informal meetings held months ago by a “no-name group” seeking better collaboration in scheduling activities and events to avoid conflicts if at all possible.
“We didn’t know where to go after those meetings,” said Michele Geremia, Barrington’s director of recreation and leisure services. “But we knew we wanted Thursday’s meeting to be more than just about scheduling.”
Indeed, she said, “We want to foster a sense of community and create a sense of place.”
A brief conversation after those meetings between Geremia and McDermott, a trained facilitator, led to Thursday’s meeting.
“I invited her to lead it,” Geremia said.
McDermott first asked the attendees to compile a list of “assets” and the age groups served by those assets. Here are examples of the items jotted down by McDermott from representatives of the approximate 12 groups at the meeting:
- The Bay Spring Community Center offers classes, hosts concerts and art shows, and serves as a community gathering spot.
- The Barrington Community School offers a wide variety of classes and educational programs along with domestic and foreign trips.
- Arts Alive produces one play a year in each elementary school and the middle school.
- The Recreation Department offers summer camps, individual recreational programs at the middle school, and activities at Barrington Beach.
- The YMCA offers a plethora of fitness, recreational and swimming programs for people of all ages.
- The BAY Team offers educational programs on substance-abuse prevention.
McDermott then asked attendees to come up with “what’s missing?”
Among the “gaps” in services are those for middle school-age kids, teens, and older adults who are not into organized sports or who need transportation to attend certain activities and events.
McDermott asked attendees to pin stickie notes on the activities compiled on her lists to help determine priorities. Bayside YMCA director Joe Martino will tally the scorecards and give the results to Geremia for the next meeting of the community focus group on Oct 17.