For more than 30 years, Mark Flores has served Lynwood’s Recreation & Community Service Department.
A longtime resident and proud alumnus of Lynwood High School, Mr. Flores started as a contract employee for the department in 1987 as a sports official and scorekeeper. He became an employee as a Recreation Leader the following year. Today, he is the Director of Recreation and Community Services, a position he’s held for the last 5 years.
When he first joined, the department organized “t-shirt and jeans” sports programs plus a handful of special events per year. Today, it has evolved into a full-service and comprehensive system of parks and community building program opportunities. Said Mr. Flores, “The public now has access to a full roster of structured, high quality activities for all ages, abilities, genders, and interests. Additionally, our Recreation and Community Services Department staff teams are much better trained and prepared to offer public services than when I first started my career.”
The department overseen by Mr. Flores is the heart of Lynwood’s community. It not only includes the parks and sports activities, but the Senior Center and public buildings and spaces such as Bateman Hall and the Lucy Avalos Community Center. The benefits to Lynwood include:
– Contributing to the health of its citizens;
– Strengthening community identity by providing facilities and services that celebrate community character, heritage, culture, history;
– Creating memorable experiences through engaging programs, dynamic events and new opportunities that get people involved;
– Building a healthy, active community that provides recreation services for persons with special needs and the elderly, and also improving the mental and emotional health of all residents;
– Increasing our community’s economic prosperity through increased property values, increased tourism, the attraction of businesses, and crime reduction.
The “Community Services” side of the department is just as important as the “Recreation” side as Lynwood families rely on its social service and community programming opportunities and referrals. Partnerships include work with social service groups such as St. Francis Medical Center; Uplift Family Services (a “wrap-around” services agency); Within the Puzzle (a families with special needs support group); the Lynwood Union (a local arts organization); the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and HOPICS (a homeless services agency). Offering these services puts an emphasis on making Lynwood’s facilities places that families can receive services outside of traditional recreation programming.
Looking toward the future, Mr. Flores has more plans for the department. “I’d like to leave a legacy of a renovated parks system – including state-of-the-art parks and amenities that are in line with our connectivity plan.” This will create a true parks “system,” where all the parks and facilities are connected and accessible.
On the programming side, Mr. Flores plans to continue to develop play and career opportunities for women and girls as well as alternative sports and non-sports programming opportunities. He would also like to address a whole segment of the population that wants to see alternative recreational opportunities such as arts programming, skate/bike opportunities and special interest classes.
At the end of the day, his most important work is to serve Lynwood residents. “It is an amazing sense of pride in my community when you see residents come out, participate and enjoy an event or program that your team put together,” said Mr. Flores. “As a long-time Lynwood resident, I grew up here at a time when Lynwood was constantly on the news for negative things. Today, Lynwood is on the news for award winning parks (Lara Linear Park), being an All-America City; its youth baseball/softball partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and its various celebrations of our diverse communities.”
July is National Parks Make Life Better Month. Mark Flores and his team at the Lynwood Department of Recreation and Community Services strive to make life in Lynwood better every month.