JCC continues community engagement despite closure

Virtual JCC will be the central terminus for all remote JCC activities.

The coronavirus is keeping the JCC closed for now, but its engagement with members and the greater community continues.
For starters, the JCC is consolidating all its online offerings in a new online portal, called Virtual JCC, which takes people to webinars, schedules, videos and other information available remotely. The portal is live and content is being added.
Here are some ways that the JCC will remain in touch during the quarantine period:

Senior Adults
Senior Adult Programming Director Tara Stone and her volunteers are making sure seniors are getting the food they need.
Stone and her crew normally deliver meals to some 35 people through their Meals on Wheels program.
That number has now jumped to 50, and Stone expects it to keep growing as more seniors realize they need the service.
“It’s a very uncertain time for everyone,” Stone said, “and I’m sure it’s especially scary for those who can’t get out or don’t have a lot of contact with people.”
Meals on Wheels is only delivering twice a week for now – one hot meal and two frozen ones – to limit the amount of contact with people. Volunteers are keeping their distance, avoiding going into homes or giving hugs. They call the practice “drive-by deliveries.”
But these deliveries come with something extra: quarantine kits, which include adult-oriented coloring books and puzzles – all intended to keep seniors’ minds occupied during their isolation.
“I like that we’re able to offer this to them,” Stone said. “At least, we can see them a couple times a week and know they’re doing OK, and they can see us, giving them some sort of sense of security.”
Keeping an eye on the seniors and making sure they’re OK is an added benefit of the program.
“We actually had one of our members call [Friday] morning and she can’t find toilet paper,” Stone said. The team has been trying to find some for her.
Stone is also collecting donations for a pet food drive to enable seniors to keep their pets fed while they’re unable to get to stores.
To contribute to the pet food drive, or to schedule a drive-by delivery, email Stone at TStone@JewishLouisville.org.

The JCC’s fitness team is keeping members engaged via Facebook, said Susan Kwasny, senior director of health and wellness.
The page, Facebook.com/LouisvilleJCC, has fitness videos and tips so members and the public can keep up their exercise routines at home. There’s also a Facebook group, Facebook.com/groups/jcclouisvillefitness, dedicated specifically to fitness. Trainers Matt Shalenko and Kathleen Horn are posting videos of resourceful ways to exercise. One of them shows how to work out using a bottle of laundry detergent as a weight.
“We want our members to stay as active as possible,” Kwasney said. “We want to be a conduit for that to be able to give them some information and help them stay active while they’re away.”
The goal of the fitness program is to help members avoid sedentary habits while they quarantine.
“We can motivate people within their homes to do sit-ups, to do squats, to do wall-sits, things of that nature,” Kwasny said.

Early Learning 
While the Early Learning Center is closed, ELC families are a part of a closed Facebook group where the parents and kids can engage their teachers and staff.
ELC Director Jessica Bush said each class is posting at least one video at the same time every day for parents and kids to access. Their content includes story time, songs and music.
Some teachers are doing their normal Circle Time routines, while the pre-kindergarten class is doing its Letter of the Week and Zoom meetings, where the kids can interact with each other.
The teachers are also using this downtime to further their own educations, Bush said. During the first week of the shutdown, instructors signed into a Zoom call with the JCC Association, learning about bibliotherapy and how to use books to create lesson plans.
Parents with special-needs children are getting calls from the ELC’s special needs coordinator, helping them acclimate to being home all day with their kids.
For parents suddenly trying to work from home with young children, trying to homeschool them, Bush offered advice: “Try not to get overwhelmed or feel like they’re not doing enough.”
Being home, establishing routines, adjusting to the whole family being together all day is a heavy burden, Bush said. “They shouldn’t compare themselves to other people and feel like they’re not doing enough school, especially here at the beginning.”
As time goes on, and routines become established, things will get easier for the kids.
“Children are the resilient ones,” Bush said. “I’m more worried about the parents, to be honest.”

Arts and Ideas 
Though plays have been postponed and programming has stopped in the building, the J Arts and Ideas Department wants to keep the arts a part of members’ lives.
Frank Goodloe, CenterStage artistic director, said the staff will post videos on Facebook, Facebook.com/CenterStageJCC. The group is planning to have classes in improv, acting, and dance – “activities that parents can do with their kids,” Goodloe said.
Other eclectic activities will be added, Goodloe said.
“We’re hoping to get maybe some costume workshops, how and what you do when you want to be a costumer, and maybe even sing-alongs.”
The team also plans to reach out to past performers, having them do videos with tips for preparing for sing-song sessions or monologues and other ways to become a better performer.
“We’re all trying to keep the arts alive, keep people engaged, keep people busy so everyone’s just not sitting at home, which is a lot harder,” Goodloe said.
“Art, as I’ve always said, helps people escape, it takes you away from something whatever’s going on…. That’s why it’s so important that at this time we really dive into the arts; it will take everyone away from what’s going on in the world … take everyone away, give them a chance to escape.”

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