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JCC to Get Facelift with Help from GE

Friday, June 24, will be a red-letter date for the Jewish Community of Louisville, because on that day, more than 300 skilled volunteers from General Electric will descend on the Jewish Community Center’s campus to renovate and rejuvenate the building and grounds.

Facilities Manager Brian Tabler and Facilities Committee Chair Alex Rosenberg have been working hard to identify the biggest and most important projects these volunteers could accomplish.

Their wish list includes painting the walls throughout the building – a job that would take more than 200 gallons of paint; replacing almost 4500 square feet of flooring; reshingling the roof of the Pavilion and adding fencing around the lap pool and the garden.

Other projects might include installing new televisions, upgrading the locker room, spa and pool areas, creating new program spaces, digging a gaga pit (a special place for a popular Israeli game) between the baseball fields and installing new blinds in the upper gym and aerobics studio.

General Electric has a long history of community service. Every year, they undertake two major projects – one in the spring and one in the fall. Choosing the right project is a challenge because there are so many worthy organizations that need the kind of help GE volunteers offer.

So, how did the JCC get GE’s attention? It began late last year when JCL President and CEO Stu Silberman attended a Leadership Louisville Executive Dinner where he met Steve Downer, a GE executive. The two men connected, sharing information about things they had in common, their careers, their hopes and their dreams.

The JCL leader discussed some of the challenges our agency is facing today, including the need to address longstanding building and grounds issues. Downer listened and referred Silberman to the GE Volunteers program. In January, the company began the process of choosing their spring project.

“It was a long process getting the approval. We took the GE project leader, Jamie Hillegonds, through every inch of the building, matching our needs with their capabilities,” said Tabler.

She took her findings back to the company and presented the JCC’s case.

“It’s an incredible honor to have been selected by GE for their generous Volunteers program.

Their selection of the Jewish Community of Louisville shows they understand that by supporting a strong local Jewish community, they support the broader Louisville community as well,” said Silberman.Tabler and GE Project Leader Geoff Ranard are now working together to iron out the details.

While GE provides the labor, it is up to the recipient organization to provide the supplies for the project. So now, the JCL has an additional challenge. The materials necessary to complete the entire wish list of projects that GE is willing to help with are expected to cost $50,000, an amount not currently budgeted for this type of work.

To fully realize the value of this project, the Jewish Community of Louisville is asking JCC members to consider donating money to the GE Construction Fund, keeping in mind that this donation should not take the place of a regular JCL Annual Campaign contribution.

The Annual Campaign, in part, provides the revenues that sustain existing JCC programs, help develop new programs, and provide scholarships for those unable to afford the fees. Locally, the Campaign also provides support for Jewish Family & Career Services, Jewish education, Hillel, the Jewish Community Relations Council and more. Campaign dollars also help Jews-at-risk in Israel and around the world.

“The GE labor, coupled with materials we will provide, gives us the opportunity to make long-needed enhancements to our physical plant, improving appearance, customer satisfaction, and, we anticipate, membership,” Silberman added.

“This project, along with the opening of the Java Brewing Company in our main lobby earlier this year, are some of the positive steps we are taking to make prudent upgrades to our facility, resulting in a more vibrant and inviting space in which we can conduct our programs,” he said. “The JCC is the central address of our community, where all Louisville Jews are welcome. It’s a location that deserves our attention and care.”

“As a community, we must recognize that whatever path we choose for the future, we currently have a facility that’s 55 years old,” said JCL Board Chair David Klein. “While it was designed for a different time and different activities, it is still a very useful and functional facility. This GE project will help us maintain its integrity and usefulness.

“Stu seized upon a great opportunity,” he continued, “and it’s a perfect example of what we need to do with our own sweat equity. This is just one small step and many more will follow. The JCC is the center of our community.

Contributions to the G.E. Construction Fund can be made by check, placed on a member’s account at the JCC or by clicking here. For more information on donating money or supplies for the GE Volunteer Project, contact Kim Hales at 238-2877 or khales@jewishlouisville.org.

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