Thu, July 18 at 10am – 

Due to the excessive rain, portions of the paths at The Preserve, Larry Fink and Danny Cunniff Parks are flooded.

From Park District Kid To Valued Staff Member

July 5, 2024

To celebrate Parks and Recreation Month, we are featuring a series of personal stories that exemplify the value Parks and Recreation brings to our lives.

Jami Buss is well-known to many of you as a member of our Registration Team at the Recreation Center. Great smile, always welcoming, and a wealth of knowledge about all things Park District. Lots of you also know her husband, Michael Buss, who has been an Instructor at the Fitness Club for almost 9 years. His Group Fitness classes are very popular. The family connections to the District go even deeper: their three sons are all park district kids, just like Jami was as she grew up in Highland Park. Her memories are the perfect place to start her story. Here we go.

Talking to Jami reinforces why this Park District has been so important to residents for their entire lives. “One of my fondest memories, from when I was just 5 years old, is going to Safety Village,” said Jami. “In those days, it was in the parking lot at Centennial Ice Arena.” Safety Village is still going strong at West Ridge. “Our kids went, and they loved it!”

“I grew up near Centennial, and we enjoyed ice skating and the shows. That area was such a great place to explore. We did lots of hiking and fishing, and of course, sledding in the winter. When I was in Middle School, sometimes we would just hang out at the Ice Arena. It was always great fun, and looking back, I realize how important it was to all of us kids.” That’s what we do at your Park District—provide safe, fun places where kids and families connect and make their own memories.

Flash forward. About 12 years ago, Jami joined the Fitness Club and continued a lifetime journey of healthy activities. Belonging to a club, connecting with Highland Park residents, and making new friends is one of the most important ways to stay physically and mentally fit. It’s a big part of what we offer every day. “My kids would come with me when they were 2 and 4, and play in the babysitting room while I worked out,” Jami related. Those two kids were Leo, now 15, and Henry, 13. “When Leo was 2 and 3 years old, he also went to Mommy’s Morning Away at West Ridge,” Jami said. “The teachers were wonderful!”

Samson, who is 8, rounds out the family. All three boys enjoy many of our year-round and seasonal programs: Baseball and Football, Sports Camps and Summer Camps, and especially Into the Wild Lakeshore, where campers explore nature, go swimming and dig into beachcombing as part of their summer adventures. “During Covid, living near Sunset Woods Park, the outdoor resources became extra important to our family,” said Jami, “and as things opened up, we all realized what amazing programs and opportunities the Park District offers the community. It’s one of the reasons I came to work here a year ago, and now helping other people get connected to the Park District is one of the true joys of my job.”

We can tell you that it’s a joy just to be around Jami, and we’re grateful to have her as part of our family.

We would love to hear your personal and family stories. Send us a wonderful memory or two that we can share. Until then… See you around the parks!