October 12, 2023 at 10:39am

Elena Ferrarin

Article by Elena Ferrarin

Communications Coordinator
Northbrook Park District


After being employed by the Northbrook Park District for 37 years, Stretch Molina, head custodian at the Leisure Center, is unequivocal in his assessment: it is a great place to work.

Molina started as a part-time and seasonal worker in 1986, became a custodian after two years, and within two more years was promoted to head custodian.

“If you want to advance, there are a lot of opportunities to advance. The benefits are great, the pension is great, and I love my job. I worked in all the buildings, and I even learned how to drive an Olympia (ice resurfacer).”

The park district currently has two open positions in its facilities department: part-ice resurfacer driver and part-time custodian.

The positions come with benefits including free access to the park district’s recreation and fitness programs, pools and dog park.

Facility Maintenance Supervisor Rich Silver said new employees will join a hard-working and passionate team. “We have a strong interdepartmental relationship with other areas which allows us to solve problems and have fun at the same time,” he said.

The Northbrook Park District is at the top of the industry in pay scale, as well as best practices, operational standards, events, programming, and projects, Silver said.

To break the monotony, staff members cross-train at all four facilities. “Every day is a little bit different, and every shift has new opportunities. This is also the type of work that gives the employee pride for creating a clean, welcoming, and safe environment for staff and patrons.”

There are also plenty of opportunities for job growth, he said. There are three levels of facility maintenance workers (I, II and III), and about 40 full-time jobs within the Parks and Properties Division that allow for new challenges and professional growth. “We also support and push staff to pursue licenses and certifications that grow their knowledge of the position,” Silver said.

Indeed, the park district is committed to providing all necessary tools so employees can perform their jobs well, said Ken Schroeder, who works as facility maintenance worker III and ice technician.

“If you need something for the job, they don’t say ‘no.’ They get it for you,” Schroeder said. “The people are really nice. It’s a great park district.”

Schroeder started as a seasonal worker 14 years ago after being laid off from his auto mechanic job at a car dealership. After two years, he achieved full-time status with the park district and rose through the ranks over the years.

Schroeder said he, too, also appreciates the “fantastic” benefits package, and especially enjoys playing free golf with coworkers once a week.

Custodian Diego Antunez said he and his family members — his wife, 5-year-old twins and a baby on the way — love using passes to use the pool at Meadowhill Aquatic Center and attend theater performances at the park district’s Northbrook Theatre.

As for the job, he especially appreciates the friendliness of fellow staff and the community. “I love everything about my job,” Antunez said.

Some of the rewards are intangible, Molina pointed out.

Like the time he found a diamond ring and returned it to the resident who’d lost it, or when he runs into adults whom he’d met as children when they attended park district programs, and who now bring in their own kid to our facilities or events.

To learn more about these positions and to submit an application, visit nbparks.org/crew.