EAST ORANGE, NJ — East Orange The East Orange Recreation Department is offering a full schedule of fall and winter activities for children and adults, spelled out in the Fall and Winter Activities brochure available in City Hall or one of the recreation sites throughout the city.
Adults can enroll in Fellowship Fridays programs, while children can sign up for Fun Fridays activities. Both programs take place on the first Friday of every month and the Recreation Department kicked off both on Friday, Oct. 5.
Before that happened, however, Recreation Department Director Renee Muhammad attended Mayor Ted Green’s community forum at Cicely Tyson School of the Performing and Fine Arts on Thursday, Sept. 27, to spread the word about her department’s offerings.
“Tonight was our citywide community forum. If you missed it, don’t worry about that. Come on out to East Orange Recreation or send us your email address,” said Muhammad on Thursday, Sept. 27. “Today, I have here our finalized brochure of fall and winter programing that has activities and sports events and for the afterschool programs and we also have adult programs featured in here as well. The first thing we’re going to be offering for adults, it’s called ‘Fellowship Friday.’ So make sure that you get a brochure, so that you will be informed about what’s going on.”
According to Muhammad, since being appointed to lead the department, she has been busy.
“I was with the Department of Recreation since 1989. I was in charge of recreation in 2010, up until 2014,” said Muhammad. “At that time, I went to property maintenance and gained a wealth of experience over there in working in the abandoned properties division. But I am so happy to be back into recreation. That is where my heartbeat is because recreation is the heartbeat of the community.”
“Recreation is a feeder program and, you know what, if we can capture these little children when they are in the first, second and third grade, then we can save them,” Muhammad said. “Recreation is really a safe haven and, in order to be able to do that, we need to be able to provide opportunities to these kids when they’re in kindergarten and the first grade, so we can keep them and retain them until they’re ready to go on to high school. Some of these gangs and some of this violence is actually starting in some of our babies in kindergarten and first grade and it needs to stop and the only way we can do that is being a force in our community and Recreation is that, as well as other facilities like the YMCA and the East Orange Public Library, so it’s very important. So I really hope that our community partners and our schools allow us to be able to get inside those facilities so that we can offer them. As long as we have the budget and volunteers we can offer these programs and opportunities for these kids.”
Green agreed with Muhammad and reiterated the point he made at the city’s Summer Work Employment Program kickoff event at CTS on Friday, July 6, when he recounted his own experience working his first job as a janitor through the program.
“Here’s a young man who is standing here as your mayor, as the 14th mayor of the city of East Orange, and my first summer job here in the city of East Orange under the SWEP program, I started off sweeping on Brighton Avenue,” said Green on Friday, July 6, to the audience of 200 to 300 city teens in the Cicely Tyson School who were signing up to participate in the SWEP program.
“Some of our homegrown kids will be the next mayors and they will be our council people and, who knows, maybe the next president of the United States, but it’s up to us to help lead them in that direction. As a mother of three and a grandmother of five, it’s really important that we are the stepping stones that help move them in the right direction,” Muhammad said. “Without us grooming them for it, they will be lost. So we need all the volunteers as well. We have this program called Volunteers Are Needed, so come on out and volunteer. There is a background check, which you must pass. But come on out and work with us in recreation.”
Muhammad said the door is always open to volunteer for the Recreation Department and sign up for any of its available programs.
“Registration is ongoing, so come on down,” Muhammad said. “Fees for the program for fall and winter, you will see that they are decreased.”
For more information about East Orange Recreation Department programs, call 973-414-4141.