Karen Virgadamo retired last month after 29 years as program administrator for the Philipstown Recreation Center.
How did you hear about the job?
We moved to Cold Spring when my oldest son [Anthony; twins Tom and Joe are both teachers at Haldane] was 2. I was working in Carmel at Guideposts. My friend, Donna Steltz, had the Rec job but was leaving and recommended me. It was good, because I was able to work closer to my children and attend all their events. Now it’s 29 years later. Donna and I are both recently retired and still friends.
How has the job changed?
I was hired to do registration, which was done with receipt books and a ledger. I had to add everything up with a calculator. People registered and paid in person, with checks. I didn’t know the computer. We started off in the small office upstairs in Town Hall, and our program spaces were at Haldane, the Garrison School and the Continental Village clubhouse. When we were given our Garrison space [a facility once owned by the Capuchin Franciscans] it was so wonderful to have our own facility with such beautiful grounds. I miss the more personal registration. People still call to register but it’s mostly online.
On the other hand, we’re able to offer a lot more now — in regular years, anyway, not this one. Theater has evolved for the kids and we have more classes for adults and seniors. This year we had nine trips planned for the seniors and they all had to be postponed, which was hard. Our preschool sports programs have always been popular. And summer camp is a big hit, that’s for sure. When I started it was called “Fun and Games” and it was held in the Haldane cafeteria.
Do people get mad when they are shut out of popular programs?
Yes, they do! We try hard to get the word out. Amber [Stickle, the director] posts all over Facebook and emails everyone. But some still miss out. This year was especially difficult because we had to cut the registrations by half because of COVID.
Do you miss your job yet?
I do, especially all the directors, coaches, instructors and assistants, past and present, who have done so much for our program. I’ll always appreciate the help they’ve given me over the years. But I’m doing some things around the house, chores, now that I have more time. I’m getting used to it. My husband is retiring at the end of June — he works at a warehouse in Peekskill, so it’s nice to have this month by myself to get things done! I’m planning on doing some traveling: I’m going south on a trip. I’m also walking on different trails and catching up on lunches with my girlfriends. But most of all, I’ll be spending time with my grandchildren. We have seven grandchildren whom we love and enjoy: Four boys, three girls, ages 9 down to 2.
Why are the Rec programs important, do you think?
They bring the town together, from the senior luncheons and trips where everyone is so appreciative of everything we do for them, to the exercise programs that everyone can do, to the newcomers whose children wind up in the preschool. People aren’t always aware of us when they move in, but they find out quickly.
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