This energetic volunteer has been helping coordinate sports activities across the recreation system.
Htee Moo Chaw is an active soccer player who has been helping with rec center programs for several years. Among her most rewarding work is to help Kyle Johnson coach with the Karen Football Association, managing 20-40 young people and the equipment.
What are some of the other programs you’ve helped with?
I’ve coached or assisted at pretty much all the rec centers in St Paul and programs at Career Path Academy as well as two years Hazelwood Rec Center and McDonough as well as a Public Housing Authority partnership with the St Paul Police department. I coach middle school soccer throughout the year at Humboldt and at Blackhawk Soccer Club.
I have also worked every year at a one-week camp to take kids fishing, tubing, ice skating – all kinds of outdoor activities.
Next up is coaching volleyball. I started to play last year, and now I’m ready to assistant coach.
Why do you volunteer?
I’m using everything I learned growing up to give back to the community. I don’t want these programs to disappear, so I need to give back. If you grew up in rec centers like I did, you understand what families need and are going through – you understand the struggle.
Seeing the kids all joining in and having a great time really gives me energy. During the pandemic opportunities for camps and sports were very limited so our camps were a real outlet for them. I work a lot with youth ages 5 to 10 or 12 years old. When they play for the first time most of them ask “can we have this again next year?!” They get to make new friends.
Have there been challenges?
I came here from Thailand and didn’t realize there so many cultures and colors I’d find in Saint Paul. It can be a little bit difficult to work across so many cultures in one group. Many students have language barriers because they are new to the community. In our programs they meet friends and learn more English as they hang out with other. I can definitely say that having this program helps cross-cultural understanding and keeps youth out of criminal activities.
What’s your favorite park?
They are all great. You can usually find me at the gym at Hazelwood if I’m not out coaching somewhere.
Inspired? Parks and Rec is seeking youth coaches and officials. Give back to your community and support local athletes by becoming a youth coach or sports official. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.