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New rec leader grew into position

Oliveri enjoyed programs as a kid

Aug. 2, 2010

The expression "coming up through the ranks" applies perfectly to Lauren Oliveri.

Oliveri, whose Elm Grove childhood featured fun-filled summers at the village's pool and public grounds, has been named recreation director.

"I grew up participating in the swimming and soccer programs," said 22-year-old Oliveri, who grew up on Andrew Jackson Court on the village's northern edge. "I remember standing in those long lines, holding my mom's hand, trying to get the best number when the spring sign-up was being held."

The popular programs at the village grounds remain a big focal point of life in Elm Grove.

"It's so cool to see it's still like that," Oliveri said. "You knew it was Mother's Day when you saw everyone standing in that line, and you were excited because summer was coming."

This is now her eighth summer at the pool as part of its operations, first as a volunteer and eventually in paid positions.

"In college I was working there because I saw it as a great opportunity to stay part of the community and to help provide the same opportunities I got as a kid," she said. "It always felt like home."

Oliveri was named interim director last year before she recently got the nod to permanently take the helm.

But despite her roots, she had to beat out plenty of competition.

"It was a very thorough interview," Village Manager David De Angelis said. "We had 42 candidates."

Oliveri's willingness to get involved down to the basics was a selling point.

"She participates with some of the programs herself," De Angelis said. "She's basically a person-staff as the only full-time employee. She'll even lifeguard when she has to. And Lauren works so well with the public. She'll do the village proud."

Oliveri's parents, John and Gina, still reside in the village and enjoy seeing their daughter as an important part of the community.

"During the Fourth of July celebration, it was amazing to see how many people knew her and came up to her," John said. "For her, this was a very natural progression and a very natural fit. And now she gets to see a whole new generation grow up like she did."

Added Gina: "We're so excited for her. It's hard to explain how meaningful it is."

More than ever before, Lauren realizes her family is now an extended one.

"Having the sense of a family outside my immediate family is a great feeling," she said. "The overall energy and pride in this community is just something special, and you really get a feel of it through our rec programs. It's great."

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