Charlie Hoffman just finished his first year as Fair Haven’s first full-time recreation director. Borough officials think the investment has paid off in spades. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)
By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
As mayor of Fair Haven, Michael Halfacre catches a lot of flak for decisions he and the Borough Council make. That was no different last year when the council decided to hire a full-time recreation director; Halfacre says there was a lot of collective grumbling going on.
But once Charlie Hoffman, a fresh-faced 29-year-old, stepped into that full-time role and got to work, the naysayers suddenly got quiet, Halfacre said.
“I’ve not heard a single complaint from anybody,” he said. “His on the job performance has been tremendous.”
Hoffman has been on the job for a little more than a year now, and all one needs to do is take a look at the borough’s existing and new recreation programs to see the impact Hoffman’s had in his inaugural year, his backers say.
He introduced the borough to a summer concert series on the Navesink, once a perk that could only be found down the road in Red Bank. He started a soccer program for toddlers., and for seniors, a fitness program. He’s taken residents on trips to the Bronx Zoo and sat with them watching Broadway plays.
He added a popular sports program for the borough’s children and teenagers with special needs, called Eagle Athletics, in which students from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School volunteer to teach sports like soccer, basketball and football with their peers. For those not into sports, there’s the A&E equivalent, called Eagle Arts. One of his most successful ideas was the father-daughter dance, which was sold out last year.
Aside from the demanding responsibilities of overseeing the maintenance of the borough’s fields and staying on top of their scheduling, Hoffman says the easy part was improving programs and adding new ones.
“Everyone here’s really involved,” he said from his office, nestled in the corner of borough hall’s basement, where he’s decorated the walls with pictures from recent events and proudly hangs Fair Haven T-shirts. “It’s definitely a town that really thrives on this.”
Hoffman, in turn, thrives on his duties. A Sayreville native, Hoffman has worked in the recreation industry in Montgomery and Washington, D.C. He isn’t shy about his passion for what he does. He says that after every event he makes a check list of what was good, bad and what he felt indifferent about.
“You try to make everything better for the next year,” he said.
He’s always looking to get better and add on, he says. The next father-daughter dance is coming up. He’s kicking around an idea for a ski trip. There’ll most likely be what he calls a “Couch Potato to 5k” next year, in which he’ll train the borough’s sedentary for a 5k run over the course of about 12 weeks. His long-term goal is to improve the borough’s facilities and expand the youth center, more than likely to fit in more programs.
In this first year, he’s actually made a little bit of money for the program, which he never expected.
Halfacre says that hiring Hoffman has worked in the borough’s favor. And Hoffman, in his first full-time position, thinks it has worked in his favor.
“I’m definitely excited that we’ve been able to change stuff and do some good things,” he said. “It took eight years to get this job. I’ve wanted it for a while.”
For more about the department’s offerings, call Hoffman at 732.747.0241, extension 216, or go online to Fair Haven’s recreation website.