“Leading the Mayerson JCC this last year and a half has been like running an emergency room,” said CEO Marc Fisher. “We have just been trying to keep the patient alive. Yet we have been resilient and are looking forward to a season of renewal—not just getting back to where we were, but to bringing a fresh perspective to what the J can be for our community and how we can serve it.”
Fisher and the JCC’s board leadership will discuss the challenges of the last year and their plan for the future, all centered around this theme of Resilience and Renewal, at the Annual Meeting on September 2.
Leading the J during a global crisis was not the job Marty Hiudt signed up for when he agreed to take the role of president two years ago.
“When I was asked to take on this position, the environment and the J were so very different than what we are experiencing today,” said Hiudt, who is now completing his term.
“Membership at the JCC was very strong and stable, there was a robust schedule of arts and ideas, as well as youth and family, programs, and the J was planning for a capital campaign and the building of a second campus at Amberley Green,” he said. “Business as usual stopped, and we had to rethink how we provide services.”
Although plans changed, Hiudt said he was impressed with how the organization reacted, and he is proud to be part of that.
“My memory of chairing the board for the past two years will be drawn towards how this staff, this board, this CEO stayed focused on our mission and worked tirelessly to do all that could be done to ensure that the Mayerson JCC continued serving its mission and the community.”
“After COVID-19 hit in March 2020, the J was at the forefront, actively responsive in real time, to daily changing scenarios relating to COVID within our community,” said incoming board president Ronnen Isakov. “Even when the building was closed, staff and volunteers continued working, to ensure meals were getting to seniors in need.”
All Day at the J provided a safe space for children to participate in virtual learning at their schools while their parents worked. We reopened the Early Childhood School (ECS) as soon as we could, with a focus on safety procedures including sanitizing, social distancing, and masking. Fitness classes were held over Zoom and on Facebook live, as well as safely in person at the J.
“And from survival, there began the process of regaining strength, and being prepared for the future,” Hiudt said. “I feel so good that although we are not totally out of the woods yet, I truly believe we in fact accomplished what was necessary for the J to continue to be the heart of the Jewish community, now, and in decades to come.”
“Resilience has looked like gaining financial strength, due to grants, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, donations, and the return of the J Classic golf tournament fundraiser,” Fisher said. “It has looked like ECS getting back to full capacity with a long waiting list, 210 campers in Camp at the J this summer, 50 kids coming to the After Crew program each afternoon this school year, and the 60 & Better Center hosting social events like the L’Chaim Happy Hour for more than 100 people.”
While they are proud to have survived as an organization, and to have been resilient during the crisis, the J’s leadership is now looking forward to renewal and growth.
“This couldn’t come at a better time, as we enter the new year at Rosh Hashanah,” Hiudt said. “This is always a time of renewal, and of reevaluating how we will serve our community better, and I’m confident Ronnen will step into his new role and do that.”
If resilience looked like survival, renewal looks like thriving. The JCC has plans to expand and remodel parts of the fitness center and aquatic center, and make continued improvements to the courtyard. They are hiring new staff members to accommodate an increase in programming, including the Strong Women of the Bible and Israeli Television discussion series. There will be a fall men’s softball league for the first time, and they will introduce a theater program for grade school-aged kids this winter.
“And we are looking forward to hosting the artists and community partners at our annual Under One Roof Art Exhibit, celebrating the festival of Sukkot in September,” Fisher said. “It’s no accident the theme of this exhibit is also Resilience and Renewal. We are eager to see how this theme comes to life in each piece of art—just as we are eager to see this renewal happening at the J in the coming year.”