New rec center opens for adults of all abilities

When Jeremy Struthers worked for social services on Whidbey Island as a job coach for people with disabilities, he heard many of the families say they wanted their loved ones to be able to get out and socialize beyond their assigned work hours.

Enter the Whidbey Island Rec Center, a place for adults with developmental disabilities to socialize with each other and participate in daily activities. Currently located in Tim Leonard’s Machine Shop in Langley, the rec center offers arts and crafts, video game tournaments, movies and more, all facilitated by Struthers.

“It’s kind of like a social club. It’s a place to come and do everything,” he said.

Since its Oct. 14 opening, about a dozen people have consistently shown up every week for activities. Monthly themed parties, complete with pie, are a favorite. Last month’s Thanksgiving party boasted turkey-shaped cookies and ornament decorating.

“I like the time with friends and hanging out here and doing arts and crafts,” Jessica Martin, a regular, said.

Struthers said it feels good to fulfill a need which he recognized in his past work.

Struthers is working to have the rec center approved by the state, so respite hours can be fulfilled and attendance will be government-funded. This would ensure that people wanting to come to the rec center could do so without them, their families or caretakers having to pay a member fee.

His dream is to have the rec center patterned after the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center in Bothell, which offers classes for adults with autism.

In addition to having classes taught, book clubs and field trips are also on his radar to include someday. And, a bigger location such as the South Whidbey Community Center.

“I want the Whidbey Island Rec Center to be a place where dreams come true,” Struthers said.

The rec center is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Whidbey Island Rec Center, call 509-540-5106 or email