Cindi Wight is a great ambassador for Rutland Recreation and Parks Department as well as active living in general.
But Wight, the superintendent of the department, has been bringing a lot more to the job than even that for years. She’s been bringing her family. The Wights — husband Keith and children Josh, Molly and Emily — have been fixtures at Rec-sponsored events since they first moved to Rutland.
The kids would be at the start line of races, marking the courses, handing out prizes and snacks. Cindi recalls Emily as a three-year-old handing out doughnut holes — she’s quick to note with just a little wince they hand out healthy snacks at events these days. And I first met Keith when we were both volunteer shovel operators at Pine Hill Park on a work day.
Keith in fact was a part-time employee when Cindi took over as superintendent but with an obvious conflict of interest he had to resign. But he enjoyed it so much that he kept on working as a volunteer.
“The kids always found roles they could help with,” she said, and when trail building got too much they would “spend the day up there … working, building fairy houses, reading.”
On the other hand, Cindi owns up that there were times the kids were “voluntold” helpers. And the sheer length of work days at Pine Hill quickly wore thin for the kids (and others). Keith Wight, Shelley Lutz and Michael Smith, who led many of the work crews, were seemingly happy to spend a full day on the hill but we mere mortals were not necessarily so eager, and Cindi Wight notes that work days at Pine Hill are now over at noon.
“Do a morning, end at noon, everybody’s happy,” she says. And while the park is run by the all-volunteer Pine Hill Partnership, Cindi has a seat at their table and they work closely together.
And the family tradition continues — Keith was helping with a new shipment of balance bikes for an upcoming learn-to-ride program at the North Street building when I stopped by for an interview and Emily had been by the day before with some power tools to dismantle giant comic book covers for storage until the Halloween parade. But with Josh, 22, and Molly, 20, off to college, and with school visits happening for Emily, 17, it’s almost the end of an era for Rutland’s first family of recreation.
Still, with Wight hands on pretty much every aspect of the city’s Recreation and Parks for the past decade and a half, they are leaving a real legacy. And with the tens of thousands of hours of volunteer time that go into every aspect of recreation in a small city like Rutland, from building trails at Pine Hill to coaching, fund-raising and driving kids to events, having the superintendent’s family set the volunteer bar so high seems pretty cool.
This article was originally published in Sam’s Good News; the latest edition is here.