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JCC celebrates its rejuvenation, honors donors

Last week marked the pinnacle of the rejuvenation of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City. After nearly six years of renovation efforts, the JCC is seeing the fruits of its labors and is taking time to thank those who made the projects possible.

On Feb. 27, in the main lobby at the Jewish Community Campus, 75 honored guests joined the JCC’s executive leadership and many current and previous board members to celebrate the completion of two major projects: the Capital and Endowment Campaign and the Child Development Center (CDC) Expansion. The reception was held to honor and thank the donors who contributed to these renovation projects and to unveil two major donor plaques, one for each campaign.

The Capital and Endowment Campaign began in 2007 when the JCC’s Fitness and Sports center was in need of modernization. The JCC was losing members to the growing number of new health and fitness facilities in the area. In order to stay competitive, the JCC, with board president Lon Lowenstein at the helm, decided to embark on an over $3 million refurbishment campaign. The renovations started even before the money was raised in order to combat declining membership.

The campaign ultimately yielded over $3.3 million from individual and corporate donors in the community and included a $1.2 million matching grant from a collaborative committee comprised of the Jewish Community Foundation, Menorah Legacy Foundation and the Jewish Heritage Foundation.

Following the Grand Re-Opening of the Fitness and Sports center in 2008, the JCC saw an immediate 14 percent increase in membership within one year. Since then, total membership has increased by more than 23 percent. The campaign and subsequent membership increases reversed consecutive annual deficits and the JCC has been operating in the black since 2010.

The JCC also recently completed the CDC expansion, a project that began in 2012.

“The CDC expansion was an opportunity for the JCC to add 50 smiles to a program that had a long waiting list,” Gary Weinberg, JCC board president, said
The $450,000 expansion netted three additional and one renovated state-of-the-art classrooms, a new Pre-K suite, a refurbishment of the CDC shared space, a 6-foot replica of the Kotel (Western Wall) made from Jerusalem stone and the installation of Jewish art, created by Risa Kleban, on a glass wall facing the JCC main lobby.
The CDC, which has been operating at 100 percent capacity since its inception in 1989, was able to open more than 50 new spots to children who had previously been on the waiting list. A second phase of expansion will begin later this year and will include technology and cosmetic updates to the entire CDC facility.
“These two [projects] have not only helped the CDC and Fitness and Sports by growing membership and earning more money, they spurred a rebirth in JCC departments all over,” said Jacob Schreiber, JCC president and CEO. “It is no coincidence that the JCC has been able to grow nearly all of its programs and been able to invest in achieving our Jewish mission because of the revenue from these programs.”
The donor plaques can be viewed in the Fitness and Sports lobby and in the new Pre-K suite. The JCC invites its members and the public to tour the renovated areas.