by Jeffrey Tuvlin
Six months ago at the Major Gifts event, I had the pleasure (with co-chairs Shiela Berman and Karen Abrams) of presenting the exciting work of the program review committee. Through many hours of dedication from volunteers and staff, we reviewed the then current programming throughout the community, identified gaps and made recommendations for improvement and restructuring.
We reported that the entire structure of programming for the JCL needed reworking. One event no longer could be relied upon to meet the needs of an entire community. “Concierge programming” with a point person for each group in our community was requested.
A lot of excitement and “buzz” was generated, challenge grants were made and answered and the work continued.
So the natural question becomes: Where are we now six months later? Has anything REALLY changed? The community is looking to the staff and board of directors and leadership of the JCL to deliver on what the community has told us it wanted and needed.
Today, I want to update our community on the programming progress we have made towards meeting these goals.
When we talk about concierge programming we have to first mention youth and children’s programming and specifically, summer camp. Few would argue the importance of the camp experience in fostering community, independence, identity, and a positive Jewish experience for our kids. In fact, during the program review process, this was rated as one of the top priorities in programming across all ages and stages.
This summer’s camp program is off to an amazing start with more and more interest in participation. Improvements in communication, scheduling and quality of daily activities have the camp staff constantly finding more sessions and more spots for increased interest in participation. Camp is the “place to be” this summer.
Parents can see what their children are doing by pictures posted by the camp daily, and there is now more than ever a sense of leadership. As she promised in the Major Gifts video six months ago (when she had only been here a month), Julie Hollander is under the archway at the JCC every morning of camp to greet our kids.
As the “point person” staff for youth and children’s programming, she is ensuring a successful camp experience. A good experience at camp will increase participation in other events year-round and continue the engagement of our kids.
This is concierge programming.
Out of this restructuring have come subcommittees and new programs such as PJ Plus, PJ Library Camp, and the Children’s Committee to continue this programming throughout the rest of the year. Parents know who is in charge and their point person for their young kids. Each of these committees are staffed by Julie and chaired by members of our community.
There are, already in place, established point staff people and committees set up for all of our identified groups of programming including Early Childhood Committee (staffed by Allison Schwartz and Becky Mckiernan), Teens (staffed by Justin Sadle), Young Adults (staffed by Tzivia Levin), Adults (staffed by Kim Hales and Andrea Melendez) and Seniors (staffed by Slavia Nedlin and Diane Sadle).
The young adults have been having regularly scheduled and extremely well attended non-solicitation social events.
The committees are all in various stages of development, but the staff have been assigned to each group and volunteer chairs have been appointed. Some are still forming their full committees and others, like the Teen Committee staffed by Justin Sadle and chaired by Glenn Levine, have been meeting and engaging teens for months.
With teenagers on board and intimately involved as representatives from the teen community, the group has reviewed programming, assessed needs, discussed with planning and allocations, almost completed a search for a dedicated middle school director, and held events with great success.
Under the global umbrella of an overall Program Steering Committee, chaired by Karen Abrams, these individual committees, staff and lay-run, will be under continuous review for success, relevance, mission-based importance and financial viability.
So where are we with programming six months later?
I believe we are creating a structure that will ensure exciting, enriching and relevant programming now in 2010 and on an ongoing basis to ensure excellent programming into the future. When I think about the fact that all of this was accomplished while we were merging the JCC and Federation, searching for a new CEO, a new CFO and running a campaign in difficult times I can only imagine what we can do together as a community when all of the pieces of the new JCL solidify in to place.