Q&A with Paul LaChapelle, Precinct 2's Baldree Community Center Manager
1. Describe the types of programs and activities available for seniors at the Baldree Community Center?
At Baldree, we work to program according to the pillars our Commissioner Adrian Garcia has laid out for us.
Empower: The pandemic kept our seniors in the house for quite some time. This created the doubt for some of our seniors that they no longer would have the ability to make a change in their own lives. By empowering our seniors, it gives them the courage and self-esteem to say, “I CAN do what I set my mind to.” Baldree empowers our seniors by making sure they have the resources to be independent at the community center and at home. For example, our exercise classes such as Low Impact Exercise gives them step-by-step instructions on how to move their body properly. Instructor Karla G. uses real life examples such as grabbing a box off a shelf to guide her class and to show our seniors how they can move to avoid injuries in their everyday life. We are also working to provide technology classes to our seniors so they can be confident in navigating the internet on their laptops and phones. This type of support is empowering. It shows them they have the ability to work independently and to have the confidence to continue learning.
Educate: Empowerment and education go hand-in-hand. At Baldree, we like to give our seniors the most up-to-date information on technology, health, public safety, and other community resources. We often have volunteers, health professionals, and law enforcement officers conduct informative classes to make sure our seniors are ready to head back into the world with confident that they have the tools to complete their daily tasks.
Engage: In order to educate and empower, we have to be able to engage our seniors. We make sure to ask our seniors daily what they would like to see here at Baldree. We provide a safe space for people to share information about their interests and also tell us what doesn’t interest them! Overall, we try to keep it fun to keep them coming back every day with a smile on their face and ready to get active!
2. How has the center worked to increase and improve the types of programs offered to seniors in the last year or so?
This question ties back to Precinct 2’s pillar -- engage. We work to create activities we know our seniors will appreciate, find useful, and, above all, enjoy. We have created a bond where they now inform us what they would like to see here at Baldree. Also, this bond sparks creativity. As we work on one activity, other seniors get excited about wanting to create and volunteer to lead other projects.
The team at Baldree (L to R): Paul LaChapelle, Elizabeth (Betty)Castillo, Kathy Johnson, William Howard
3. What do you like most about working at the Baldree Community Center?
My favorite part about working at Baldree Community Center is conversing with the community and the people that I serve the community with. I love when I’m able to have conversations with constituents about their background and figure out how I can be of service to them. I always try to leave time in my day to go out and talk to the seniors, the youth, or the parents that come out to our activities. Everyone has a story. It’s all about creating that safe environment for them to share so that you can better understand people and their situations. Also, I enjoy working with our Baldree Empowerment Team. This team consists of community leaders to make sure that out our constituents are receiving quality resources that are free or referred to a resource that is affordable.
4. How can people learn more about the programs and events at Baldree?
People can learn more about the activities and events happening at Baldree by accessing our Precinct 2 web page, contacting our call center at 713-274-222, and feel free to just stop by! The Baldree Community Center is located at 13828 Corpus Christi Street, Houston, TX 77015.
Paul LaChapelle is the Felix Baldree Community Center Manager for Harris County Precinct 2. He began working for the precinct nearly a decade ago as a part-time staff member with youth programs. In his current role, Paul oversees the daily function of Baldree Community Center and works alongside his team to look for solutions to enrich the lives of Precinct 2 constituents in the North Shore and Cloverleaf communities. Paul was born and raised in Houston’s North Shore area. He a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University. Outside of work, Paul enjoys spending time with his family especially his wife, Olivia, and their one-year-old Shih Tzu, Gizmo.