By Jenn Ross
Although this was a challenging and unprecedented year, our organization had numerous accomplishments, even during our temporary building shutdown. This summary is a snapshot capturing just a few highlights, alongside many other achievements that have been reported in Community Review and our community emails throughout the year.
I am incredibly proud of the Federation staff and board leadership and grateful for the support of our community. Your generosity enabled us to exceed our campaign goal and raise more money than we did in our prior fiscal year for a total of $950,330. Numerous Brenner Family ELC parents, Aftercare parents, and members donated tuition and dues, and this support also helped us weather this storm.
In spite of the significant financial challenges, all of our full time staff were paid throughout the shutdown and we continued operations. Obtaining a PPP loan enabled us to do so, but I am grateful for the board and finance committee’s support of this before the loan came to fruition.
We participated again in JCC Association’s Benchmarking. Thank you again to those of you who participated in our surveys. Our board and program directors participated in virtual debriefings on the findings. Board Chair Abby Smith will provide some of the highlights at our virtual JAAM on October 28. This will be another opportunity to learn about our achievements and also where we are heading.
Prior to COVID, several of our programs had grown substantially, with the Brenner Family Early Learning Center at its highest enrollment ever following the expansion supported by the Alexander Grass Foundation. Our Senior Club was offering a multitude of activities at the JCC and through its day trips and travel program. Our hallways and gym were bustling with activity during basketball season. Participation in personal training was significantly higher than recent prior years. Our Young Adult Division offered creative monthly social programs.
Major events included the annual Cardozo-Maimonides program focusing on Patient Rights: Capacity vs. Competency, CRC’s Thou Shall Not Hate, our annual Kristallnacht Commemoration featuring third generation (grandchildren) speakers, Pre-K holiday and special events, annual youth and adult Sports Awards, PJ Library events in collaboration with The Silver Academy, Chanukah party, and our Purim Carnival which was our final event prior to the closure.
Although the building closed, our activities continued. At the end of our fiscal year, we had 330 PJ Library monthly book subscriptions sent to Jewish children in the community. Our JCC community remained connected through ongoing virtual fitness, twice weekly senior social and educational check ins, 3-times weekly ELC family programming and regular calls from their teachers, ongoing check ins with teens, Young Adult Zoom calls, and additional special virtual programming. The Reading of the Names was not hindered by the shutdown and was offered for the full 24 hours on Zoom and Facebook Live. RockSteady Boxing, a new initiative which provides strength and stability building for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease, launched in person and continued on Zoom. Our Pre-K class had an amazing Zoom graduation and car Parade celebration together.
In 2019, the planning for an online edition of Community Review and it launched during our closure at https://communityreviewhbg.org/. Members, donors, and subscribers continued to receive regular print editions. The 2020 edition of Shalom Neighbor is in production for receipt this fall.
The JCC steadily reopened on June 22 by offering care and education to families of essential workers at our ELC. On June 29, school-age children began attending Summer Break at the J. Our expectation at this point is that we will be able to reopen Green Hills and offer Day Camp there in 2021. The fitness center reopened July 6 and our indoor pool has been a popular attraction since then. In August, we resumed our Senior Artist in Residency as a hybrid model with half of the participants coming to the JCC and half attending via Zoom. The Silver Academy opened for its 2020-2021 school year.
All of our activities honor the Jewish value of Pikuach Nefesh, saving a life, and we continue to offer virtual fitness and senior check ins. Thanks again to our Medical Advisory Team for their insightful guidance. I appreciate the hard work of our staff keeping the building sanitized, following masking guidelines, and helping ensure our participants remain physically distanced while socially connected. Thank you to everyone who has returned to our building and cooperated with our new safety procedures and for your patience during these evolving circumstances.
We are thrilled to have you back as part of the community at the JCC and/or through your continued participation online. Thank you for being a valued member of our community. I’m looking forward to the year ahead with you.
If you have any questions or feedback about our past year or the year ahead, please contact me at 717-236-9555 x3104 or email@example.com. Mazal tov to our award winners: Alyce Spector, Scott Rubin, and Morris Caplan; and also to all of the individuals being recognized by our colleague agencies!