Veterans make up a large portion of Collin County’s population, and here in Plano we enjoy finding new ways to show our appreciation for their service. That is exactly what happened at Carpenter Park Recreation Center (6701 Coit Road), where Supervisor Coffy Robinson and patron Donald Duren came up with a positive and unique way to celebrate Veterans Day and get people talking about what it means to be serve.
Thanks to a creative collaboration with Plano Parks and Recreation’s marketing staff, the center completed its first Veterans Day photo project. Located in the front lobby, the display welcomes visitors with an American flag banner festooned with photos of decorated veterans who routinely visit Carpenter Park Recreation Center. The display features information about roughly two dozen local vets who represent each branch of the military.
Don, who has been coming to Carpenter Park Recreation Center for 10 years, said he was thrilled to help Coffy collect the photos and information from his fellow rec center patrons for the project.
“I walk around the track with a lot of veterans here, and as we walk I listen to their stories,” said Don, who has been coming to Carpenter for 10 years. “The Air Force made a big impression on me.”
The banner attracts nearly everyone who walks into Carpenter Park Recreation Center. Many patrons stop and admire the photos during a moment of solitude, but the banner display has also brought many patrons together as it inspires them to share their stories with one another.
The latter, Don said, is the real gift that this display has brought to the center.
“I don’t think they would consider themselves heroes—they will tell you they just did what they were supposed to do,” he said. “I told them to get me a before and after photo of them as well as information about their background, and photos are still coming in. Hopefully we’ll have a lot more up there in time for Veterans Day.”
While Carpenter Park Recreation Center is just one place in Plano that does its part to honor our local veterans, it serves a treasure trove of heroes. Among the center’s Veterans Day display is a patron who served in the Army was an interrogator during the Korean War, as well as Carpenter’s oldest patron who served as a spy in World War II for the OSS, the equivalent of today’s CIA.
Given the tremendous impact the display has had, Coffy said she looks forward to doing the project again next year.
“I can’t think of a better way to show these patrons how much we care—not just our staff, but our entire rec center community. We may not be able to organize something on a larger scale, but this project came together thanks to the big hearts here at Carpenter. And to me, that’s pretty huge.”