WARSAW — In November 2015, the Warsaw Parks and Recreation Department named a Sheila Wieringa as its new recreation director. Wieringa had already spent five years in an administrative assistant position, but most of her life has been spent collecting a wealth of experience that made her a good fit for the job.
“I’m an organized person,” she asserted. “I like to plan things, starting with nothing and watching things grow.”
Wieringa may have inherited this trait from her mother, a Girl Scout leader in her hometown of Fairmount, known as the birth place of James Dean and the festival bearing his name.
“I remember always having ribbon, yarn, glue guns, beads around,” she said of her childhood. She still loves arts and crafts and now involves her own children. Wieringa and her husband Steve live in Pierceton with their daughters: Baylee, 5 and Paislee, 2 years of age. A recent “random Pinterest project” found them constructing a pumpkin burlap wreath, said the former 4-Her.
These interests have given Wieringa some insight into arts and crafts projects offered by the parks and recreation department, such as the Easter Brushes and Bunnies painting program and Coffee and Canvas. The latter sold out both sessions. Participants enjoy coffee and tips from an instructor. “You end up with a masterpiece!”
Wieringa has also been involved in the performing arts since she was a child. “I’ve just sung as long as I can remember,” she mused. She was so small her pastor would stand her up on a box, so she could perform for the congregation. Later, living in Fort Wayne, Wieringa “dabbled in a couple of bands.” One such band was Crush, known for covers of classic and current pop music. In Warsaw, she has performed with Unclaimed Baggage, a blues group.
Wieringa also loved dancing from a young age and was part of a clogging group performing at fairs and festivals in and around Grant County throughout her years growing up there.
As director, Wieringa has secured funding from the Indiana Arts Commission for the Friday evening concert series so families may continue to enjoy free music in the summer at Central Park. Currently, she is preparing for the ever popular daddy daughter dance. Tickets go on sale Jan. 3.
“Warsaw is fortunate. We are able to offer a lot more than what our tax base can support,” Wieringa observed. This is due to both her successful grant writing, allowing the department to tap into additional revenue streams, and the generous support of the business community and individuals.
After graduating from International Business College in Fort Wayne, Wieringa landed a part-time position with the Warsaw Fire Department, an “eye-opening” job, which she left for the parks department only because it offered benefits and the opportunity to better provide for her family. Both jobs strengthened her customer service and administrative skills as well as providing experience working in county government.
It seems to be paying off. Wieringa can look back on a year of accomplishments. Besides the aforementioned events, she also secured a grant to purchase paddleboards, to be available for free eight times next year. The family carnival was another success, paid for in part with a round-up grant from KREMC.
She looks forward to her second year. “It’s so rewarding seeing people enjoy the event you’ve helped put together.”