Director of Recreation & Community Services, City of Lakewood
Valarie Frost embodies the concept of servant leadership. As the Director of Recreation & Community Services for the City of Lakewood Valarie works to provide connections and resources to her community. Her leadership journey began as a student at Long Beach City College.
“I was thrown into adulthood well before my educational journey began at Long Beach City College. The expenses of food, rent, and other essentials always seem to exceed the income earned from my four jobs. Earning a college degree was important to me and it was important to the LBCC Foundation too. The scholarships awarded to me from the LBCC Foundation were the springboard I needed to finish my educational journey and transfer to a CSU campus. I’m proud to say that I earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Master Degree following my years at LBCC and today I am a tenured professional in my field of work. And outside of my important work as a mother of two boys, there’s now only one job listed on my tax return.”
As the Director of Recreation & Community Services for the City of Lakewood, Valarie oversees everything from youth sports and teen programs, aquatics, senior services, and special events. She loves working with her broad-based team that works hard to provide the community services that Lakewood has come to expect. “The people that I work with are true public servants, they are committed and agile, and always come together to provide the best for our City.” This past year that capacity has been what has allowed them to move from being proactive to reactive, waiting for guidance and direction from public health officials to determine safe methods for program delivery. Valarie and her team have worked hard to reimagine their programs in a way that continues to provide the same experiences for families. Movies in the park became drive-in movies, open swim became timed experiences. In addition, they have worked hard to provide a connection and support to people in need. They developed a virtual brown-bag lunch program for older adults to provide connection and meal support. They developed Park Alternative Working Sites (PALS) to support children and parents who are working virtually. They also developed postcards that they are sending to teens, seniors, Special Olympians, and others in the community to say hello and remind them that there are resources available in this challenging time.
This year has also led to robust collaborations, working with other organizations to ensure that the gaps in programming and resources are filled. Project Shepherd, a partnership with the Lakewood Rotary is usually more active during specific times of the year. This year they have worked on multiple efforts, including a face shield project early in the pandemic that helped to produce and distribute face shields to hospitals and convalescent homes in a 10-mile radius. They also helped to deliver the Lakewood Cares grant funding to provide food, gift cards, and basic goods to community members impacted by the pandemic. Everywhere that there was a need to be filled, Valarie and her team found a way to support the people in her community.
Outside of work Valarie shares her spirit of voluntarism and leadership with other organizations in the community. She has been a proud member of the Lakewood Rotary Club for the last 9 years and joined the LBCC Foundation Board of Governors in 2020. “The scholarships gifted to me from the LBCC Foundation were the springboard I needed to finish my educational journey and transfer to a CSU, earning my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees.” LBCC is so lucky to have this Viking alum join us in our mission of supporting students and giving back to the place where it all began!