People who have been making a difference in Wallingford are moving on, and it’s worth taking a moment to observe their contributions.
John Gawlak has been Wallingford’s Parks and Recreation director for more than three decades. At 54, he’s leaving the position, though it’s not without some regret.
“You develop a relationship, you develop a rapport, you develop an advocacy for youth sports,” Gawlak told the Record-Journal recently. “There's some incredibly professional people here and I’m going to miss them.”
Gawlak will remain a volunteer technical advisor for the plan to develop a multi-purpose park at the town’s Community Pool. And, he won’t be far away in his new job. He starts this week as the head of the recreation department in Cheshire.
“I still feel like I’m a kid and that I have a lot to offer,” he said.
The town’s public library is also losing its head of children’s services. Sunnie Scarpa is heading to Madison, and the position as director of E.C. Scranton Memorial Library. It was, she said, an “opportunity to learn more and do more.”
Scarpa deserves credit for developing the upcoming Wonder Room at the Wallingford library, formerly an underused area of the children’s room that will serve as a place for STEM programs and other activities. During her tenure, she was known for innovative programs.
She was “incredibly effective as head of children’s services and admired by her coworkers, our board members and the general public,” observed Jane Fisher, library director.
Also saying goodbye is David Mensher, who served for two years as food services director for the school system. He’s heading to the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford and a position as cafeteria general manager.
These are the roles that help build the fabric of a community. Others will fill them, but it’s always worth honoring significant contributions.