As a result of fewer workers at the Macomb Township Recreation Center, Gina Muszynski indicated operating hours have been affected and the availability of the aquatic center has been reduced. Muszynski is the center’s facility supervisor.

As a result of fewer workers at the Macomb Township Recreation Center, Gina Muszynski indicated operating hours have been affected and the availability of the aquatic center has been reduced. Muszynski is the center’s facility supervisor.

File photo by Deb Jacques


Macomb rec center seeks employees

‘We’ve really tried not to shut our doors’

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published January 13, 2022

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — To begin 2022, the Macomb Township Recreation Center, located at 20699 Macomb St., finds itself in a situation not unique in the U.S. — it’s short staffed.

Gina Muszynski, the Macomb Township Recreation Center facility supervisor, said full- and part-time workers report to her.

“My front desk staff is usually at 14. Right now, we’re at nine,” she said.

Permelia Gross, aquatics supervisor, usually has about 50 lifeguards on staff. Now, that number hovers around 22.

“We’ve been limited on what we’ve been able to offer for swim lessons,” Gross said. “We’ve cut the capacity of classes and offerings.”

She noted that lifeguard positions are available now. Lifeguards also serve as swim instructors. All aquatics staff positions are part-time.

As a result of fewer workers at the Recreation Center, Muszynski said that operating hours have been affected and the availability of the aquatic center has been reduced.

The Recreation Center used to be open until 10 p.m. Now, it is open until 9 p.m. during the week. Its current hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Fridays; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.

“We’ve really tried not to shut our doors because of our memberships,” Muszynski said. “We trimmed our hours as much as we could because of the lack of staffing and COVID.”

Previously, the Recreation Center would be open until 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 6 p.m. Sundays. Muszynski acknowledged that, due to the pandemic, fewer people have passed through the doors.

“We took a responsible economic turn in trimming hours, but now, it’s two-fold because we don’t even have staff,” she said.

Parks and Recreation Director Sal DiCaro said Muszynski and Gross have been hit the hardest by a lack of applicants.

Gross clarified that people don’t have to be a champion swimmer to be a lifeguard — rather, they just have to know how to swim.

Muszynski said the lack of applicants in the department began almost two years ago, when the pandemic began.

“When we shut down in March 2020, we had to lay workers off, and it just spiraled from there on out,” she said.

In response to what the breakdown was of workers who stayed on when the center reopened in the fall of 2020 versus those who left the Recreation Center workforce, Muszynski said it was a trickle effect.

“Right away, we might have been at like 75%, but then really quickly, we lost about 50% of our staff,” she said. “We got resignation letters, and by the time we opened at capacity, we found out we were severely understaffed.”

From that point on, she noted there has been a push to attract applicants.

Muszynski explained that applications are kept on file at the Recreation Center for up to one year so there is a pool of applicants they can turn to when employees leave.

“We took the initial pool, called everybody that qualified and did a surge of hiring from that,” she said. “It was the worst pool we ever had. People said they weren’t interested because of COVID, and the ones that did apply, it was the weirdest thing of we would hire them, then they would say, ‘It’s not cut out for me,’ and quit.”

Muszynski has worked for Macomb Township for a dozen years and said she had never seen so many people quit a short time after being hired.

“For me, they’re just not applying,” Gross said. “Once they’ve taken the class, they’ve shown they really want the job. Rarely am I seeing people leave after six months.”

The other factor Muszynski cited as to why people aren’t staying employed in recreation are salary increases.

“McDonald’s has $16 an hour with a $500 bonus,” Muszynski said. “Retail stores before Christmas were doing $15, $16. All these other companies were raising rates, so we went through a hike and raised salaries anywhere from $1 to $3, thinking that would help, but it didn’t.”

She said part-time front desk workers at the Recreation Center now are earning about $13 an hour, the highest that rate has ever been.

Lifeguards are paid $12 an hour. Once they receive swim instructor certification, they can make $13 when teaching swim lessons.

Applications are available at the Recreation Center or at macomb-mi.gov. Applications must be submitted to parks-rec@macomb-mi.gov or dropped off at the center’s front desk.

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