Cape Serves – Penny Williams

A real superhero in the Parks and Recreation Department is the Recreation Division Manager for the City of Cape Girardeau, Penny Williams. She has been an employee for the City of Cape Girardeau for the past 28 years and there is not much she cannot do.

“No day is the same,” Penny said while reflecting on her favorite part about her job.  A typical day for Penny can involve anything from interacting with the public at the Osage Centre to planning special events, classes, leagues, and programs for the community, and meeting with various staff members to outline new and upcoming projects.

Penny Williams (pictured left) was instrumental in bringing the Special Olympics to the area. A spirited group prepares to take the Plunge (pictured right)

She finds that members of the Cape Girardeau community are passionate about the Parks and Recreation Department and the things they have to offer. Nothing gives her greater pride than walking through the facilities and seeing people staying healthy and appreciating the facilities and programs provided to them by department staff, much of which supported of course by the city’s voters.

Penny also played an instrumental role in bringing the Special Olympics program to the Parks and Recreation department, along with her husband Scott Williams, the University, and other partners. At the time, there was not a program in place that provided recreational opportunities for people of all different levels of ability.

“Everybody wants an opportunity to train, play, and compete,” she says. Penny and Scott knew the potential Special Olympics could bring to Southeast Missouri, and specifically the Cape Girardeau community.

The Parks and Recreation Department exists to serve all residents and visitors. Their efforts include providing recreational opportunities for people with disabilities, through support for the Special Olympics and other programs.

The next upcoming event for the Special Olympics is their annual Polar Plunge on Feb. 2 at Lake Boutin. Individuals or teams can sign up to fund raise for the Special Olympics. About 200 people are expected to take the Plunge. This year’s goal is to raise $40,000. There is still time to sign up or donate on the Polar Plunge Cape Girardeau website. The Cape Girardeau Police and Fire Departments are also big supporters of the Plunge.

“Your community is only as good as your people are,” Penny says. It takes a many people to put on events for the Special Olympics throughout the year. They are always looking for volunteers for their events. If you are interested in volunteering, you can go to the Special Olympics website at https://somo.org/Volunteer for more information.


Brenna Shea is a Southeast Missouri State University student from St. Louis, Missouri. She majors in public relations and minors in business law. This summer she plans to begin her career at either an in-house agency or a business-to-consumer corporation. To learn more about her, visit her LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brennashea.