JCL Update | March 28, 2014

Seven Times, Seven Ways. That’s the accepted norm for how one can successfully communicate a message. Sounds daunting at first. The concept is to make each time the message is communicated be interesting so that the recipient, after hearing the same message repeated in different ways, fully comprehends it. Over the next several issues I will be sharing with you aspects of what your JCL has accomplished over our nearly five years existence, and where our strategic planning process will lead us over the next three years.

A strategic plan can only be accomplished when the organization knows what it wants to do. Today’s message is about our Jewish Community Center, why we want to be in the JCC business, and the benefits the Louisville Jewish Community receives from the operation of this arm of our agency. The JCC is here for the Jewish community – and we also welcome all Louisvillians to participate in our programs, join the JCC and create a center of Jewish activity and learning that benefits all.

Many of our own Jewish community members can’t clearly define the purpose of the JCC, which is understandable, given the variety of programs and services that meet the needs of so many. Today our purpose is clear. Through our JCC and Jewish programs, we provide a wide variety of opportunities for you to stay healthy, learn, grow, connect with others and engage, through all stages of your life.

And the financial picture at our JCC is very different than it was just a few years ago. Let’s take a look at a few of the revenue-producing programs that take place on the campus, starting with the obvious, our health and wellness center.

This summer, we will be upgrading much of our exercise equipment for the second time in three years. Our trainers can provide individual fitness programs using this equipment as well as through our continually expanding group classes, our three adult and one children’s swimming pools, cycling room, running track and new specialty equipment, such as a boxing corner funded by a few generous donors.

We’re here for the family, too, with a range of special fitness offerings for children and families. We also offer massages, yoga and classes in the newest trends. We’re committed to delivering the best possible wellness experience we can, overseen by Fitness Director Ron Peacock, Aquatics Director Johnny Kimberlin, Assistant Director of Membership and Wellness Tara Stone and our Senior Director of Membership and Wellness Tom Wissinger.

Our newly branded Early Learning Center, under the leadership of Early Childhood Director Melissa Youngblood and Assistant Director Angie Hiland, has achieved the outstanding Two Star rating from the Kentucky Division of Childcare, the only such accredited Jewish early childhood program in the state. (See story, page 8.) We infuse Jewish content into our curriculum, offer swimming and other physical activity and a loving environment with qualified, caring staff, ensuring that each child is nurtured and, when it is time for kindergarten, well prepared to succeed.

Summer camp offers so many exciting programs, both on-site and through specialty camps that we continue to grow summer after summer. Our new Senior Director of Youth Services and Camp Betsy Schwartz promises to take it up yet another notch this summer. The camps are filling, so please register while there’s still space to ensure your child has a great summer at the JCC.

If you haven’t been to a CenterStage production, or haven’t been in a while, please come (back) and experience the incredible quality and content of this performing arts program led by Artistic Director John Leffert and Development and Outreach Director Lenae Price. The highly engaged CenterStage Committee selects challenging and informative productions, along with all-time favorites. Their constant innovation and commitment to excellence means that many shows are sold out, including many in the current production of The Color Purple. Today would be a good time to get your ticket for May’s show, The Sound of Music.

These four revenue-producing areas provide enough income to cover all the program costs of running the facility, including all maintenance and depreciation. Wow! That’s an accomplishment we could not have hoped to achieve only a few years ago – and, it’s a very different financial picture than many community members remember.

What’s not covered by these areas, though, are some programs that make us distinctly Jewish. Some examples include BBYO and Teen Connection, led by Teen Director Mike Steklof and Middle School Director Rachel Lipkin. JCC membership is not required for participation, and many participating families don’t belong (yet.) We are exploring new membership models for the future to attract more families with teens. The PJ Library Program, led by PJ Library Director Jen Tuvlin, invites families with young children into our facility to connect with each other and experience additional Jewish learning opportunities together.

Other programs, including our Senior lunch, fitness, recreation and education programs, led by Senior Adult Director Diane Sadle and Adult and Cultural Arts Director Slava Nelson, provide nutritious kosher meals on campus and also the only kosher home delivery program in Kentucky. Seniors in the program are active and engaged, and should a health issue or problem arise, our alert staff members are there to help connect individuals with the resources they need going forward.

In addition to working with the seniors, Nelson is expanding our cultural arts offerings. She works with the Patio Gallery Committee to ensure that our displays are engaging and, through her efforts, the JCC now offers a group of new adult programs, including a book club and classes in computer, silk painting, watercolor, ballroom dancing and Hebrew.

Information on all of our programs, including several I didn’t cover for space considerations, is available on our new website. Here’s the bottom line: we’re not just a health and wellness center (although we’re a great health and wellness center) – Louisville’s Jewish community chooses to be in the JCC business for all the Jewish content we can provide to all our community members, and now we can do it in a way that allows more community resources to be applied elsewhere as needed.

Talking about our improvements isn’t just hyperbole. Another article in this issue describes the JCCA (Jewish Community Centers Association) Benchmarking program that we have participated in for the past three years. Read for yourself the independent assessment of our results and the progress we are making. (See story, page 8.)

Do you have questions on any of the content in this update? Send a note to community@jewishlouisville.org and we’ll get back to you with answers – I’ll write back to you myself, or ask a staff member to respond to specific program questions.

If you haven’t been into your JCC lately, please come ask for a tour so you can see why we are in the business and all the positive changes we have made recently.

If you are a member, thank you for your support helping us build and sustain a vibrant, caring inclusive community rooted in Jewish values.

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