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April 17, 2014 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-04-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

That's what the Pew study is about. The
conversation is: How are we going to cre-
ate activities you're going to want to par-
ticipate in?"
The 2013 Pew study, "A Portrait of
Jewish Americans" showed Jewish orga-
nizations what they already knew —
American Jews are largely secular and
unaffiliated, and depending on the genera-
tion, intermarried. The key is that they
identify as Jews.
A quarter of all JCC members in North
America fit that profile, Shenker says.
They don't affiliate with a synagogue or
send their children to yeshivahs or day
schools, but they will use a Jewish com-
munity center to work out and to care for
their children.
If a JCC can connect those people with
each other, they're doing something right.
"I may run a great fitness center or a
great preschool; it may be that I run a
great camp program and
have a robust perform-
ing arts series" Shenker
says. "But the JCCs that
connect people to others
have the greatest impact.
JCCs are in the business
of building relationships.
They're the vehicles"
Jordan
Providing people
Shenker
with a sense of com-
munity is what the JCC
of Metropolitan Detroit does, and it does
it well, says Assistant Executive Director
Dave Stone.
"We're so much more than a fitness cen-
ter; we're about building a community" he
says. "That's what the Maccabi Games are
all about — bringing people into the fold"
The 2014 JCC Maccabi Games &
ArtsFest, which Detroit's JCC is host-
ing for the fifth time (in August), brings

JCC Board receives a fea-

sibility study for enhancing
the Jimmy Prentis Morris

Building. The study con-
cluded that a full-service
JCC was not feasible, but
recommended an expansion
of the facility to include a
swimming pool, new meet-

ing space, fitness center,
air conditioning, additional
parking, new child care pro-
grams and overall refurbish-

ment of the existing facility.
The expansion and enhance-

ments were projected to
cost $3 million and add
more than $200,000 to the
JCC's existing annual oper-
ating expenditures.

1989

JCCs And Financial Woes

The JCC of Metropolitan Detroit is but one JCC in the U.S. that has chronic financial
problems. Here's a look at just some of the challenges other JCCs have faced since the
early 1990s:
• In 2012, Bank of America sued the St. Louis JCC for allegedly withholding $4 mil-
lion in payments in an attempt to force the restructuring of $45 million in bond loans
issued in 2007. The lawsuit was settled in January 2013, details undisclosed.
• The 35-year-old Contra Costa JCC in Walnut Creek, Calif., shut its doors in late
2011, citing financial problems caused by lagging fundraising and membership.
• Atlanta's Marcus JCC faced $12 million in debt in 2007. A fundraising campaign
begun in late 2012, along with a reduction in operating expenses and costs, reduced it
to $1.9 million Ron Brill, former CFO of Home Depot, was instrumental in the turn-
around.
• A spate of JCCs closed in California, beginning in 1994 with the closure of the
Oakland-Piedmont JCC in northern California. The Valley Cities JCC in Sherman
Oaks closed in 2009. In 2012, the JCC at Milken in West Hills, also in the greater Los
Angeles area, shut its doors. According to the Jewish Journal, financial troubles and
fiscal mismanagement within the former Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los
Angeles in 2001 led to the closure of centers, including Santa Monica's Bay Cities JCC
in 2002 and the Conejo Valley JCC in 2004.

1,500 teen athletes and artists to town and
engages about 1,000 volunteers locally. It is
a revenue generator, although the success
of the event also depends upon sponsors
and donations.
Programming within Detroit's JCC has
been recognized for excellence by the
JCCA, including the Kindness Project run
by Rabbi Zvi Muller and Shalom Street in
West Bloomfield.
Creating and sustaining programs that
appeal to a wide demographic is an ongo-
ing challenge, says Leslee Magidson, exec-
utive director of the Jimmy Prentis Morris
JCC in Oak Park.
"Can you meet everyone's needs? The
answer is no, you can't meet everyone's
needs" she says. "But we're having con-
versations of how we can reach out. We
have to be realistic about the fact that our
community is the oldest Jewish commu-

I- JCC hosts Maccabi

Games, leading to a

January - JCC
leadership publicly

several-year financial
surplus.

announce a project-
ed $450,000 debt,

( Jewish
Federation approves
a $3.5 capital and

endowment cam-
paign to expand
the Jimmy Prentis
Morris (JPM) JCC.
$2 million was to go
to renovation and
expansion, and $1.5

was to be placed in
endowment funds to
support programs
at the JPM.

1990 1991

nity outside of Florida. And, if that's who
our demographic is, are we meeting their
needs? On the other hand, are we meeting
the interests of a younger community? I
think it's complex"

Benchmarking
Detroit is in the midst of benchmarking,
a process by which it surveys staff and
members about overall satisfaction and
looks at financial sustainability, member/
user engagement and programmatic suc-
cess. It serves as an "early warning system"
to detect problems before they become
crises, and it is one of the most valuable
services the JCCA provides, Finkelstein
says. This is the second time Detroit has
undergone the process since 2007. Results
will be presented to the board in May,
Stone says.
"Benchmarking is good, especially if you

Cincinnati's Mayerson JCC

do it a number of years in a row, and espe-
cially when you benchmark against your-
self" he says. "You see how your agency
has grown and improved, and you get to
see how JCCs around the country of like
size are doing"
Detroit's JCC has about 8,000 mem-
bers, a number that has remained steady
for a while, Stone says. The Greater
Washington, Kansas City, Denver and
Cincinnati JCCs are considered of like size,
he says.
Data gathered in the last 10 years show
that the most successful JCCs offer mem-
bers multiple opportunities while they're
in the building, that they successfully sign
up people who use the JCC for preschool
into year-round membership, with the
first six months being the most critical for

Financial Pressure on page 12

June - JCC defers
previous capital cam-
paign in favor of raising

$500,000-$600,000 for
"deferred maintenance."

spurring staff cuts
and scaled-back
services. $370,000
of the deficit is
from the Jimmy

Prentis Morris
Center.

Oct. 18 - JCC
board votes, unani-
mously, to open
membership to

non-Jews after 62
years of closed
membership.

1995

Flag-raising (1967) at the Meyers and Curtis
JCC Day Camp

February - JCC begins $5 million capital
campaign to revamp the Maple-Drake build-
ing, including renovations to health club, locker
rooms, child development, lobby, aerobics studio
and signage; plus exterior lighting upgrades,
Rosenberg Complex improvements and a walk-
way bridging child care and health-fitness areas.

1

June 19 - The Bloom
Report targets JCC's
strengths and weakness-
es and offers ideas for
improving facilities and
services. The strategic
plan laid the groundwork

for goals of the upcoming
capital campaign.

1996
JCC History on page 10

April 17 • 2014

9

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