When you come to the Jewish Community Center, employees throughout the building strive to ensure you have a positive experience, but it is Tara Stone, assistant director of membership and wellness, who is always looking for ways to make it a little better.
In recognition of her passion for her job and commitment to customer service, Stone has been selected as the 2014 Arthur S. Kling Award winner.
“I’m very honored and shocked to get the award,” she said. “I do what I do every day not to be recognized. I do it because I love it and I’m passionate about all our programs and everything we do. This is a true honor because there are so many outstanding people who work for this organization, and to be chosen from among my peers is pretty amazing to me.”
Stone describes her job as doing a little of everything. “I help oversee membership, fitness and aquatics as well as the customer service aspect of the operation.” She also hires, trains and supervises staff for the front desk, the health and wellness desk, the pool gate and the Dive In Diner.
“I see my job as ensuring that members are happy and getting good quality programs,” she said.
That also means working with new ideas and new programs as well as ensuring that existing programs change and adapt as needed. Last year, Stone spearheaded the training and implementation of the Discover CATCH program, supported by the Jay Levine Fund. This program, Stone explained, is a health and wellness program for youngsters in the Early Learning Center. With this program, the ELC incorporates healthy eating habits, gardening and fitness into the curriculum.
Now the program is expanding and Stone is incorporating it into kids fitness classes and family gym. It will be part of the program at JCC Camp this summer, too.
Looking at total wellness, Stone is currently working on creating massage and personal training into wellness packages as a new way to promote overall wellbeing.
Another part of wellbeing is volunteering to help others. Stone is in the forefront here, too, leading Louisville’s participation in JCCA’s (Jewish Community Centers Association) Cycle for Good program.
Through this program, volunteers raise money for Special Olympics by getting sponsors and riding stationary bikes. With Stone’s leadership – both in organizing the event and riding for long periods of time – the Louisville JCC has had two successful years of participation, with fundraising growing the second year.
Originally from Alma, MI, which she describes as “a very small town.” She chose to work at the Jewish Community Center, “because I grew up in the community center in my hometown. I was always there after school and for dances and other activities.”
When she came to Louisville, Stone explained, “I was looking to become part of a community and this position seemed perfect. It was a meshing of the customer service that I have a passion for with a background in sports, wellness and fitness, which I also have a passion for and enjoy. I also value family and quality of life, so this is a perfect fit.”
The youngest of three children, most of her family is in Myrtle Beach, SC. Stone came to Louisville with her boyfriend, Brian Douglas. He had a good job opportunity and she was ready for life in a bigger city.
Stone has a BA in Spanish from Coastal Carolina University. She was a youth fitness coach and has held several customer service and sales positions before coming to the JCC.
Volunteering is also an important part of Stone’s life. She is a volunteer transport driver for No-Kill Louisville and mentored an at-risk student for a year. She has also volunteered for Gap Giving Gifts, Adopt-a-Soldier, Adopt-a-Family holiday program and the Humane Society, and participated in a Breast Cancer Awareness Walk.
The Kling Award offers the winner the opportunity to participate in some professional development. Stone hopes to use it to attend the JCCA Conference.
The Kling Award honors the memory of Arthur S. Kling who was a prominent leader in the Jewish community, serving as president of the Young Men’s Hebrew Association (YMHA), the predecessor of the JCC, and many of its committees. He was among the leaders instrumental in establishing the JCC on Dutchmans Lane. He was also instrumental in establishing the Bureau of Jewish Education and the Conference of Jewish Organizations, which ran the United Jewish Campaign.
The Kling Award will be presented at the Jewish Community of Louisville’s Annual Meeting, Sunday, June 1, at 10 a.m. at the Jewish Community Center.