Heroes among us
ROBERT LEE WALKER III
Director of Parks and Recreation for Macon-Bibb County
What is your work?
I’m tasked with the responsibility of managing the daily operations, maintenance and capital improvements for 40 active parks and recreation areas in Macon-Bibb County. I’m also responsible for planning, designing and developing new parks and recreation facilities in Macon-Bibb County.
Why are you driven to your work?
As the director of Parks and Recreation, I have an opportunity to impact the community in a positive manner through various programs. There’s not many careers that allow you the opportunity to make change, and I try to take advantage of my opportunity every chance I get. Having the ability to influence change in someone’s life keeps my drive going.
What is the legacy you hope to leave?
I hope I’m remembered for the improvements made in recreation through the SPLOST. Since 2016, we have used SPLOST money to make improvements to several Macon-Bibb County parks and facilities. I hope those improvements will continue to provide an exceptional experience for users.
What makes you feel appreciated?
It always feels good to hear how our recreational services have made an impact in someone’s life. When I have an opportunity to visit a recreation center or park, there is always a citizen who thanks me for a recreational service we provide.
What do you want more people to know about your work?
Recreation is something that is continuously evolving. When people think of recreation, they automatically think of athletics or sports programs. Traditionally, athletics have been the focal point of recreation. Athletic programs still have a place in the world of recreation, but we’ve had to change with the times by offering more innovative recreation programs. We’ve started to offer nontraditional recreational programs to our community. The demand for nontraditional recreation programs that focus on cultural arts, S.T.E.A.M. programs and robotics have become increasingly popular.
What lessons have you learned from working through the COVID-19 pandemic?
One lesson that we learned from working through the COVID-19 pandemic was how to adjust to change and become more innovative. The recreation department solely depended on face-to-face interaction for service delivery. Since we were unable to have face-to-face interaction, the pandemic caused us to reevaluate our delivery strategy and offer virtual classes through Zoom, YouTube and social media outlets. The COVID-19 pandemic also shined a light on how essential recreation departments are to their communities.
How can our community better support your work?
We are always in need of volunteers to assist with programming. I would encourage anyone who would like to volunteer to contact the Recreation Department at 478-219-2001 or message us on Facebook at Macon Bibb County Recreation.
When you wake up in the night, what do you think about?
If I’m awakened at night by my thoughts, I’m normally thinking of ways we can improve on recreational services.
What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
My passion for recreation and serving people fuels my drive.
What makes a “hero”?
A hero is a selfless, genuinely good person, and someone who causes change.
If I had more time, I would: Talk more about the many programs offered at each recreation center.