Tasha Kelly is leaving her position as the leisure services director for the District of Houston. (Angelique Houlihan photo)

Leisure services director going to miss the community

Tasha Kelly leaving in July

The District of Houston’s long-serving leisure services director who is leaving in July says she’s going to miss working with people, groups and organizations in Houston and area.

“My favourite part of this job has been enhancing the community in ways I never thought possible,” said Tasha Kelly in recounting her work life with the District.

“As someone raised here, it has been my pleasure to expand our recreation services and envision a better parks and recreation experience for all users.”

Kelly began her time with the District first as a lifeguard and in multiple roles as a summer student until the leisure facility opened in 2006.

“I did leave the organization for a few years but returned in 2015 as the leisure service supervisor and was promoted to Director of Leisure Services in 2016,” she said.

“Teaching swim lessons was my ultimate favourite experience, and gave me the necessary skills for this last chapter as the director.”

As has been the situation with many people, Kelly’s job has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The leisure facility was closed, indoor sports such as hockey were curtailed and access to outdoor recreation facilities was also heavily restricted.

Partial openings of facilities followed as safety and other protocols were adopted as leisure services staffers adjusted.

“The pandemic has been a whole different level of challenge that I have never experienced — which ties into the overall challenges I have found in the job over the past few years. And that is disappointing users. Everyone expects recreation to be a flawless system because it is there for the enjoyment,” said Kelly.

And when something does happen such as a project running into difficulty, or equipment breaks down or there’s a staffing issue, close connections to users are affected.

“When you disappoint the public and have to close a facility or cancel their usage, it is super hard because it affects users on a totally different level,” Kelly said.

Kelly and her family are off to Prince George where her husband has a new job opportunity.

“To have had this job was a dream, and for all the bad days there were more good days shared alongside with my fellow co-workers,” said Kelly.

The District has now started a search for a replacement and hopes to have someone in place by the end of the summer.

District of Houston mayor Shane Brienen said he and council are disappointed at Kelly’s departure.

”Council has appreciated Tasha’s dedication to public service, community recreation, and her major contributions to strategic infrastructure renewal projects,” he said.

“Although we are disappointed to see her go, we are grateful for the time she spent working to make Houston a naturally amazing place to live”.