Volunteer spotlight: Jannides serves community for 45 years

By Kari Egbert - For the Sidney Daily News

I spent some time recently with long-time volunteer and well-known community member Mary Jannides to talk with her about her volunteer work on the city’s Recreation Board. Her love for the community and serving the kids of Sidney were evident from the smile on her face and the enthusiasm in her words from the minute we started.

Mary was first appointed to the Recreation Board Nov. 20, 1972, after getting a phone call from Sidney’s first Parks and Recreation Superintendent Dick Flanagan. During that call Flanagan told her, “Mary, I need you on the Rec Board! You’re athletic, you have kids and you know people — you’re perfect.” Without blinking an eye, Mary volunteered and her adventure has spanned over 45 years!

Mary said she has seen a lot of changes during the nearly five decades she has been involved. When she first started on the Sidney Recreation Board, she was the only female volunteer; there are now three women with seats on this board.

Mary also shared all the changes she has seen in playground equipment, from the wooden and metal play sets of the 1970s, to the colorful, modular sets now in place, to the all-inclusive playground going in soon near Geib Pavilion.

She’s got a lot of valuable historical perspective on the park system as a parent and now a grandparent. “I know what we’ve tried in the past and how well it was received by the community. I always think about who is going to benefit from any project we do.”

Of course, for those of you who know Mary’s love for all things swimming, you won’t be surprised that topic found its way into our conversation too. “We have an unbelievable swimming pool! As more people install their own pools, they are truly missing out on a fantastic local facility! I wish more people would come to enjoy the pool.”

Board meetings are one thing, but Mary is out and about in the park system too, checking to make sure all is well. “Every spring I go on a tour to see how the parks survived the winter. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve cringed when I find Custenborder or Berger parks under water because of the spring storms.” Mary was quick to add that it’s the city’s maintenance personnel who are the unsung heroes in doing maintenance and repairs to keep the parks in pristine condition.

Mary’s only lament about the recreational offerings in Sidney was the lack of a skateboard park, but it’s not for the lack of trying. “For 25 years we’ve been trying to get funding for a skate park, but we need the involvement of the kids interested in starting a park. There are grants available, but the funders want to see a grassroots effort involving kids who are engaged and leading the process.”

When I asked Mary about any advice she would offer to someone interested in volunteering with the city, she quickly told me, “You need a love for Sidney and its future.” Mary’s ongoing love for her community is as evident as the love she has for the kids she served and continues to serve.

Thank you Mary Jannides for all that you have done and continue to do for the city of Sidney!

The city has approximately 82 volunteers on some 20 different boards and commissions. The time and many contributions these citizens lend to our governing process have been greatly appreciated over the years. Persons interested in any of these positions should contact the City Clerk’s office at 937-498-8148 or by email at [email protected]


By Kari Egbert

For the Sidney Daily News