Familiar face to lead Community House programs


Last updated 3/22/2023 at 4:40pm | View PDF

Jim Slonoff


Kelci Bednar relishes the scenes around The Community House that accompany summer's arrival.

"It's great to see the building so full," she said, noting the many activities also are held outside in adjacent Robbins Park. "Parents come and go, 'My kid's here for camp.' And we'll answer, 'Which one?' because we'll have, at any given day, like 15 camps going on."

Bednar was recently hired as program director, returning to the organization she served as recreation supervisor from 2017-22.

"I feel like I never really left, and it was great because I was able to jump right back in," Bednar said.

She became well-versed in rec management organizing popular large-scale youth sports leagues.

"It's a lot of work putting together teams for 500 kids in flag football, 800 kids in Jodie Harrison (basketball), but it is great, after all of the hard work, you show up on game day, and it's a blast watching it all come together," she said.

She found coordinating the annual 3-on-3 hoops tourney to be one of the most rewarding undertakings.

"We're taking our parking lots and putting 19 basketball courts out there, and it's all hands on deck," she said.

Active pursuits have long been part of Bednar's DNA. The majority of her childhood summers were spent swimming at Chatsworth's public pool - reportedly the second largest in Illinois - and she competed in golf and track in high school.

At Illinois State University, she found a new passion in rugby. Helping lead the club actually helped her get a firm grasp on a career path.

"That's where I found my niche," Bednar recounted. "When I was captain, I got involved with the board of ISU rugby and the sports club side of it. That's where I started to feel that I really enjoyed sports management."

Working three part-time jobs after her 2016 graduation was less than ideal. But her efforts to land a full-time position in the Chicago-area had been unsuccessful. Then a friend told Bednar to use her suburban address instead of Bednar's in Normal.

"Instantly I started getting interviews," she said.

She had just accepted an offer in April of 2017 when The Community House made her one she liked better.

"All within three weeks I quit (my three jobs), got a new job, went on vacation, quit the job I never started and started here," Bednar said with a laugh. "It was kind of wild month."

Suddenly she was someone others were reporting to.

"I was 23 and have like 15 or 20 high school staff that I'm now managing," Bednar remarked.

Clarendon Hills Park District hired her away last fall, but she stayed connected to her Community House network and didn't hesitate when the directorship opportunity came up. She looks forward to helping oversee visual and performing arts pursuits in addition to athletics alongside her colleagues.

"The things we do here mean a lot to our participants," she said. "There's is a lot of teamwork behind it."

Bednar is happy to call The Community House her professional home.

"It's great just being able to provide those different opportunities for kids," she said. "We are giving a space for everybody to be involved, and the families appreciate it."

- story by Ken Knutson, photo by Jim Slonoff

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean


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