We play in them, picnic in them, relax as we stroll through them, and admire their natural beauty. Our pristine local parks are part of what makes our community so great, but those parks don’t keep themselves. Here we’ll meet two of the hardworking – and often unseen – people who make our parks special.
Lead Maintenance Worker 2 | Grounds Maintenance
City of Sanford Recreation Department
Edric Diaz was born in Puerto Rico but spent most of his childhood growing up in the Dominican Republic before moving to Florida in 1999. He joined the City of Sanford Recreation Department as a part-time maintenance worker in 2016, assisting with the opening and closing of park facilities. In January 2017, he joined the city’s grounds maintenance crew and was recently promoted to crew leader, responsible for all the 30 parks and green spaces that fall under Sanford’s purview.
Edric and his crew mow lawns, clean up overgrown branches, fix fences, plant flower beds and shrubs, and pour mulch where needed, essentially doing the landscaping that makes the city’s parks so beautiful and inviting. They also remove trash and brighten up park facilities and fences with fresh coats of paint, all the while maintaining the equipment they use to do all this work.
It’s a big job done by a very small crew of dedicated workers who must endure the extremes of Florida weather – high summer temperatures and storms and occasional cold spells during winter months – which can often put them behind schedule. But dealing with the elements is okay with Edric.
“I like parks and being outdoors around nature,” he says. “Each day is something new. We drink plenty of water and Gatorade,” Edric adds with a laugh.
Edric takes great pride in keeping the parks beautiful for people to enjoy.
“I will keep working for that,” he says. “It’s an ongoing process, and I hope people will never take for granted the wonderful parks we have in Sanford.”
Lake Mary Parks & Recreation
Originally from Miami, Nathan Brodie worked in his dad’s lawn-care business from an early age. After getting married, he moved to Georgia for a job opportunity with Sam’s Club only to be transferred back to Sanford after receiving a promotion. Though he was happy to return to Florida, Nathan wanted to get back to the kind of work that meant so much to him while growing up.
In 2005, when an opportunity for a maintenance specialist opened up with the City of Lake Mary’s Parks & Recreation Department, Nathan made the move for greener pastures – literally. Today, Nathan is the crew leader responsible for making sure that his team keeps all the grounds of the city’s parks, the Sports Complex, Events Center, sports fields, and Tennis Center pristine, well-manicured, and ecologically healthy.
Along with the duties of mowing, trimming, edging, and prepping recreational fields, Nathan makes sure his crew sees the big picture and understands that parks play an important role in the life of the city’s residents.
“I’m a hands-on guy,” Nathan says. “I’m an outside person, not an inside person. I like to get out there and make everything look good. Sometimes people just want to come to the park and look at the grass and trees and enjoy the good weather. It gives me great satisfaction when I can do the same, taking in the beauty that surrounds us. I love nature.”
Nathan also loves working with his crew, who he says are like family.
“They are great people who are willing to learn and who love making the City of Lake Mary look good,” he says. “We’re grateful for the chance to work here.”
As for his own family, Nathan is making sure his other crew of three sons – ages 9, 13, and 16 – learn how to maintain the family yard with the same sense of pride and love for hard work that was instilled in Nathan by his own father.
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