The President's Report

Posted by: Seth Geldthalzer, JCC Board President on Monday, July 2, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

Transcript of the President’s Report at the Shimon and Sara Birnbaum Jewish Community Center’s annual meeting, Tuesday, June 12, 2018.  seth-geldthalzer-photo


I was speaking with our daughter, Hannah last evening about the annual meeting and she reminded me that last year I “robotically read” my  speech as I was flying high on percoset (having spent the morning in the hospital with a very painful kidney stone).  I asked what she thought I should do differently this year and she said – Dad, just don’t try to be funny or charming or intellectual - just be yourself!!

Well, tonight I will be myself and kvell a bit with you about a few of the many, many observations I have made over the past year here at the J.

I want to thank my fellow board members, who dedicate countless hours to ensure our JCC remains relevant and at the same time innovative.  I look forward to our board meetings and the lively discussions we engage in.  The board is always eager to share ideas and opinions, and get involved on committees and subcommittees.  I appreciate the support you have all given me.  It is apparent to me that I am one member of an incredible team.  Thank you.

In addition, I want to thank all of the donors -- including individuals, other organizations and businesses -- who support our JCC.  We thank you for your understanding of the JCC’s mission, and enabling us to carry it out. It is due to your generosity that this JCC makes a difference in our community.  Each year the JCC allocates more than $220,000 to those less fortunate and requiring financial assistance.  During our 18 year history, we have never turned anyone away from utilizing JCC programs and services for lack of ability to pay.  We have families who live in homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters whose children attend our Camp, preschool and after school program at no expense.  We work with a government run program for children coming from single parent households greatly reducing their cost for attending our child-based programs.   We work with multiple group homes for adults with special needs, and for youth at risk, opening our doors to all of them. This is just a snippet of the population we impact.  If I have learned anything this past year working with the JCC staff, it’s that this JCC makes a tremendous difference for our community. 

Anyone of you can share this nachas simply by showing up at any point of the day to witness the great things that go on every day…

Stop in in the morning when our ECC students arrive with their little backpacks and run to give their teachers a warm hug. At the same time our JCares Interns with special needs arrive in the lobby and are so excited to see their mentors and friends.  The smile on Nikki -- one of our intern’s -- face each morning is incredibly infectious.  Just ask her about karaoke and you will get an entire lesson on who is the most fun to sing with.

  • Or stop by when our seniors are having lunch, sometimes with the interns, and are deep in conversation or sharing stories of their grandchildren (all of whom are saving the world in one way or another)!
  • Stop for a moment to watch the father and his daughter deep in thought and conversation in our beautiful, new Holocaust Memorial and Education Center, standing together at the computerized kiosk reading from the survivor registry as they wait for swimteam practice to end.
  • Watch Aviv in the Fitness Center spending time training the young athletes on our swim team, or our members who are just trying to get in shape (just don’t watch when Amy, David, Bonnie and I have our group fitness sessions - Please!).
  • Or just stand by the welcome desk one evening and watch Deby schmooze with some adult basketball players or teens coming to work out in the fitness center; or during the day and witness Jamie saying hello to each member by name who enters our J, or singing to the preschoolers, or watch Tim working at the Security Desk and fist-bump a little swimmer excited to go his class.
  • Come by at 8:00 any evening and walk by the camp office and observe our new camp director, Allana Steinberg on the phone with camp parents, or reading up on each camper so as to assure that they are in the right groups this summer. And as you leave, watch Stephanie, our Aquatics Director, at the Welcome Center working late again making sure that a practice session is ready for our special needs swim team.
  • Visit on a Sunday when Eli is running several birthday parties (one in the pool, one in a community room with a K’nex theme and another with a nature theme) and everyone is having a fantastic time!
  • Or on that same busy Sunday afternoon watch Lisa and staff magically organize a group of 100 mah-jongg mavens at a tournament and keep them all happy and well-fed,
  • Or attend any one of the stimulating Community Jewish Life events hosted at the J, or have fun at any one of our holiday celebrations including this year’s community - sponsored Yom Ha-atzmaut celebration hosted at our campgrounds where 800 guests enjoyed a sing along with the Maccabeats.
  • Just mention Israel to Sara, Ellie, Ellen, Jamie or Joy and you will have a wonderful conversation about their staff trip to Israel this year, all that they did and experienced, and their plans for sharing this with the community. Or ask one of the teens participating in the JCC Global Initiative about the Phoenix project where they are interviewing several Shoah survivors and creating a short documentary that they will share with teens from Moldova and Jerusalem when 5 of them go to Israel this December.

Or spend a few minutes with any of our other staff I haven’t mentioned already including Laura, Paige, Debbie, Ken, Cindy, Sarah, Lauren, Carole, Norman, Jinny, Carol, Connie, Caryn, Topaz, David, KellyAnne, Robert and their staff and you will understand that the JCC is a true community. The compassion, camaraderie, conscientiousness and caring (see what I did there?) oozes from each of these leaders and this past year has been a true pleasure working with this dedicated group.

There are so many other wonderful accomplishments made over the past year (just look around or read about them in our Impact magazine on your tables) with so much more to come. I do want to take a quick moment to call out Robert Wojciechowski who has gone above and beyond in overseeing and building our beautiful new fitness center, while continuing to be sure that the J runs as smoothly as it does day to day.

I also want to thank the Federation, whose support of the JCC is so important to our successes. Laura and I meet regularly with Eric and Robin to be sure that we each understand the thoughts, needs and missions of our respective organizations. I look forward to another year of working together to enhance this relationship.

I want to thank Laura, who Amy kiddingly refers to as my “JCC Wife”!! but, most importantly I want to thank my “wife” wife, Amy for supporting me over this past year, I know she loves the JCC as much as I do and I am grateful of her being so understanding of the emotional and time commitment that being president entails. You both so beautifully tolerate me and my “one more thing” craziness.

I look forward to beginning the second year of my term and to all this coming year will bring. Thank you to our outgoing board members and welcome to our new trustees and Mazel tov to the new Federation Board Members.

Thank you all for coming tonight and for all that you do to make this JCC such a special place.


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