CENTRAL FALLS- The first female head of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, Tracey Giron is not timid about taking on new responsibilities. "I think that's something I feel really proud about. It speaks volumes... I feel like it shows as long as you're dedicated, you can really do anything," Giron said.
Dedication is something that Giron has displayed at City Hall over the last four years, as she's elevated from being hired as an unpaid intern in the Recreation Department to being named parks and recreation director.
Giron was appointed to the position by Mayor James A. Diossa and her appointment was approved unanimously by the City Council earlier this week. She's been the acting department director since the end of July, when former Parks and Recreation director Rob Sayre- McCord was terminated for what sources described as "allegations of mismanagement of the department."
Four years ago, in September 2014, Giron was working in retail but wanted something more. She'd always had an interest in social work and was told by a friend to go to the State House and inquire about potential internship opportunities. After expressing that she was a Central Falls native, Giron was referred to Diossa, who referred her to then- Parks and Recreation director, and current Chief of Staff, Joshua Giraldo.
"I remember at that point I'd never been involved with the community, I didn't know a thing about parks or field maintenance, but I said I'd give it a shot," Giron recalled. "They thought I had a spark in me and it was a good opportunity."
"Three weeks in and I was picking up on everything relatively fast. I enjoyed the community work, the first event was the Car Show, that's where it all started," she continued. "I enjoyed the interactions with families, connection with youths. One thing led to another, I started getting more involved, they extended the three-month internship, and I was promoted to the Recreation Coordinator position the following year."
During her time as Recreation Coordinator, Giron was responsible for transforming the Parks and Recreation Department by organizing complex programming through out the summer months and helping to more than double the city's after-school an summer opportunities, city officials said. She's also taken the lead in coordinating the Car Show and Salsa Nights, both of which have attracted thousands of attendees to Central Falls.
My favorite part of the job is the connection with the families and youths..." Giron said. "Preparing for events is all fun, but seeing that I have an impact in my community, that's the part I enjoy the most at this job."
Giron, 25, will be paid a salary of 55,000.
"It is a priority to me to empower and foster home-grown leadership here in Central Falls, Diossa said in an emailed statement on Friday. "Our Chief of Staff Joshua Giraldo, City Clerk Sonia Grace, and Fire Chief Bob Bradley are all examples of individuals who were raised in Central Falls and are now working in leadership positions for the city."
"We are very proud and thankful to have another success story as part of our team. She is joining a booming environment for female leadership and is paving the way for a new era of youth involvement in our city," the mayor said.
Giron is responsible for youth involvement in the city and said she is hoping to continue those efforts when voters decide on funding a community center in the city. The city is requesting bond funding of up to $1 million from voters next month to reopen the Ralph J. Holden Community Center.
"Having a community center.... Growing up I know the value, it was the heart of the city," Giron recalled of the center. "Seeing that up and operating would be an ideal goal and to continue the programs and events we have, expanding for a larger attendance."
Giron also said one of her top priorities would be to get back the city fields back up and running, so the (Central Falls High School) Warriors have a home field," she said.
Over the past five years, the city used $1 million to renovate Veterans Memorial Park, which includes a splash pad; and to build Governor Lincoln Almond Park- a one acre fitness park with state of the art playground and exercise equipment including a walking path. The city is looking to support Parks and Recreation even further by creating a community center and renovating Jenks Park, city officials said.