Jack Knies Receives ITRS Excellence in Service Award
Jack Knies received the Illinois Therapeutic Recreation Section – Excellence in Service Award at the 2022 Illinois Park and Recreation Conference in January. This award is presented to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of therapeutic recreation. Jack, who has been a part-time staff of SSSRA for 3 years and has made a positive impact on our participants and staff certainly earned this recognition.
Jack took on the role of vehicle driver quickly after joining our team. He always is the first to take the initiative to drive for programs and special events. With years of experience, he noticed a need for an easier way to navigate the wheelchair tie-down process on our buses. On his own time, he engineered lever release sticks which meant that staff would not have to bend down into the personal space of participants to release the wheelchair tie-down lever. Furthermore, greatly reducing the potential of a back injury from bending over in tight spaces. This made it easier for staff to get participants who use a wheelchair safely and efficiently on and off our buses.
One of SSSRA’s most popular summer programs is Learn to Fish. Jack belongs to a fishing group called Fish Tales Fishing Club and they have volunteered their time each summer to help run this program. Jack and volunteers at Fish Tales continue to donate fishing poles, bait, and prizes every summer. Jack has inspired this group to help participants learn how to bait, cast, and take the fish off the line. SSSRA has been able to grow this program over the years due to the hard work and contributions of Jack and the Fish Tales Fishing Club.
Jack volunteered at SSSRA’s Summer Day Camp by becoming Santa Claus for Christmas in July. He donated recreation supplies, food, and outdoor games. Swimming at the pool was not an option for us in 2021 so in Jack fashion he donated a small swimming pool so that campers could enjoy cooling off on hot summer days. SSSRA was able to enhance the participants’ experiences due to Jack’s generous donations.
Jack is a certified Santa Claus! He donated his time at holiday events as the BIG MAN himself… Santa Claus. SSSRA offered a virtual visit via Zoom with Santa Claus, where families enjoyed 20-minutes of individualized time with Santa. He sang songs, asked participants if they were good all year long, and what they would like for Christmas. Taking it a step further, Jack decorated the bus wash bay at the SSSRA – A Visit to the North Pole event into a picture-perfect area to visit with Santa, complete with trains and fireplace!