Photo by Kira Erickson                                Cody Gumbel and Jessica Martin play a Wii Sports video game at the Whidbey Island Rec Center on Thursday.

Photo by Kira Erickson Cody Gumbel and Jessica Martin play a Wii Sports video game at the Whidbey Island Rec Center on Thursday.

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 jokerswild81@gmail.com.

More in Life

Frances Schultz, holding a picture of her younger self, recently turned 100 years old. Her daughter, Connie Van Dyke, right, said her mother’s photo looks like one of actress Barbara Stanwyck. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
At 100, Oak Harbor woman reflects on busy life

Frances Schultz turned 100 years old on March 30.

Photo by Cara Hefflinger
After Coupeville resident Geri Nelson saw these two Great Horned owlets and their mother, she posted to social media to see if there was any local photography interest. Cara Hefflinger came to the tree, camera in hand.
Coupeville owl family makes an appearance in photographer’s lens

O ne woman’s discovery of a brood of owlets in Coupeville caught the eyes of many admirers on social media, including one South End photographer.

Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record
Third grader Laszlo McDowell gets up close and personal with a gray whale skull.
Students learn about being ‘whale-wise’

South Whidbey Elementary School students got a taste of what it would be like to live as gray whales.

The Oystercatcher’s owner and chef, Tyler Hansen, prepares a dozen 3 Sisters beef bolognese lasagnas to go on the shelves at 3 Sisters Market. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Chef liaises with other business owners

A Coupeville chef has expanded his partnership with local business owners to… Continue reading

Tim Leonard, owner of the Machine Shop in Langley, hangs a purple neon star he made on the wall of his arcade. Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News Group
Neon art show colorizes Machine Shop’s reopening

A cacophony of happy buzzers and bells and a riot of glowing… Continue reading

Rockin’ A Hard Place | All aboard for my big, post-jab Rock adventure

All aboard for my big, post-jab Rock adventure!

Freeland’s July 3 celebration canceled for 2021

The Celebrate America organizing team from South Whidbey Assembly of God had… Continue reading

Rishi Sharma checks levels in his camera before interviewing WWII combat veteran Frank Burns of Freeland last Saturday. Sharma travels the country interviewing WWII combat veterans for his oral history project and nonprofit, Heroes of the Second World War. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Recording for posterity tales of WWII vets across the U.S.

Rishi Sharma has met more than 1,100 World War II combat veterans to document their stories.

Sarah Santosa is surrounded by some bovine residents of Ballydídean Farm Sanctuary, including ‘Rez, Dahlia and Poco. Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record
Animals put out to pasture, but not forgotten

A South Whidbey farm is welcoming those who may be interest in a COVID-safe spring photoshoot.

An Anna’s Hummingbird feeds from a red-flowering currant on Whidbey Island. Photo by Martha Ellis
Native plant habitat a wild bird’s best friend

Spring couldn’t come soon enough this year, not for just the birds, but for the nature enthusiasts.

Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record
Rolands Abermanis, owner of Freeland business SPUNKS, loads a box of pumpkin seeds for delivery. The business is hoping to move production to Whidbey soon.
Sowing success

Pumpkin seeds with a kick

Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News Group
Christopher Baldwin, owner of Island Time Coffee Company, arranges a display in Payless Foods.
New business perks up South Whidbey shelves

Three new blends of coffee are available in stores.