Recreation, Education and Community, otherwise known as the REC, is a non-profit formed under the family care ministry of Crossroads Church in Tyler and was chosen by Whitehouse to run the city’s recreation center located at 301 Terry Street.
“One of the first things that we will implement is the 24/7 operation hours,” Anthony Johnson had stated, during last summer’s negotiations with the city to operate the center. Johnson serves as executive director of the REC.
The round-the-clock hours have been implemented and along with that came installation of security cameras throughout the building.
In fact, since the REC took over operations Sept. 1, 2017, much of the building has been remodeled, according to Johnson.
There is now carpeting in the hallway, replacing the old tile and reducing noise levels. The large half-moon desk that took up much of the floor space in the hall has been removed and a new front desk installed that is adjacent to, but set back from the hall, allowing for better movement through the building. A portion of the hall can even be rented for classes.
The room to the left as one enters the building had once contained a glassed-in display of taxidermy specimens. They were there due to the fact that the building was originally given to the city through a Texas Parks and Wildlife grant, Johnson explained.
The animals have since been replaced with three parks-approved photographs on a deep red-painted wall and sound-dampening panels have also been added in the room. There was, however, a ceramic squirrel that was in with the taxidermy display that was kept as a mascot and now sits near the front desk.
Several exercise classes are offered including boot camp classes; RIP, a toning class that utilizes weights; Mash-up, a more intensive class than RIP; Zumba; Yoga and Yogalates, a cross between yoga and Pilates.
“We have put in brand new equipment; rowers, bikes, ellipticals, treadmills and everything you need to get yourself a good workout,” said Johnson about the weight and equipment room. “If you like to do weights, dumbbells, kettle bells, heavy balls, jump rope, you name it; you can do it in here.”
The gym has new paint, sound dampening panels and two new basketball goals. Though they are not regulation, Johnson reported that they work well for the four-on-four teams that play there. He also mentioned the REC now has two men’s basketball leagues, one for ages 18-39 and another for 40 and over. There are currently five teams on each and league play began Sunday, Jan. 14.
Karate classes as well as youth volleyball and soccer are also among the offerings at the REC. A new program they hope to soon present is a pickleball league.
After-school care has been continued for students who are school-age through sixth-grade.
“We pick kids up from school. We bring them in and give them a healthy snack, we have tutoring and we help them with their homework and we have some structured play time as well,” Johnson explained. “Parents have until 6:30 [p.m.]. Since a lot of our Whitehouse folks work in Tyler that additional 30 minutes means they aren’t rushing to get here.”
The REC, in less than six months, has made changes to the building and to the types of programs offered, but kept most of the previous staff which resulted in a seamless transition, according to Johnson.
“The City of Whitehouse, as far as the residents go and just people in general, have shown overwhelming support,” Johnson commented. “People have been great. They’ve been very supportive, very friendly. They love the changes that we’ve made and they’ve given us some great ideas.”
“We’re excited and we’re growing,” Johnson said and he wants people to know “that we’re here. Our goal is to give them [residents] a true rec center and this is the people’s building.”
Membership and other information about The REC can be found online at https://whitehouserec.org/ and on The REC facebook page. The REC can be contacted through those sites, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone, 903-202-7181.