This past September marked 20 years since the opening of the new Soloway Jewish Community Centre (SJCC) in the Joseph and Rose Ages Family Building on the Jewish Community Campus. It’s hard to believe that it has been that long since the move from Chapel Street.
The SJCC is a flexible and multi-use facility. It is a hub for athletics, Jewish preschool, summer camp, swimming lessons, therapeutic classes, seniors’ activities, Ottawa’s only kosher café, and a formidable array of educational programs such as the Florence Melton School. Most days the SJCC is open from 6 am to 10 pm, where you’ll see early fitness enthusiasts and Ganon preschoolers, as well as people attending aqua-fit and fitness programs, the Greenberg Families Library, afterschool programs for Ottawa Jewish Community School students, and evening classes and lectures. Our building is home to the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, and other Jewish community organizations, and the major centre for community-wide events.
This has been a year of innovation and accomplishments for the SJCC. I am proud of what our professional staff, volunteers, and our board have achieved. Their dedication, commitment and professionalism, have resulted in measurable success:
- We grew our membership in both numbers and revenue for the first time in several years, in part by introducing new membership options such as the Cultural Membership, which reduces costs for those who participate in our myriad cultural and educational programs, and the FitPass, which provides an opportunity to experience our facility without a year-long commitment;
- Our premier fundraising event, the Ottawa Celebrity Sports Dinner, was a success;
- We hosted community-wide events like Yom Ha’Atzmaut, which brought over 800 people to the SJCC to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel;
- We finalized our Strategic Plan objectives that support our vision: “To be the multigenerational hub of Jewish life in Ottawa and a leading community centre for those who wish to join and participate.” We will implement this plan by responding to the demographics and interests of our members, by continuing to nurture Jewish culture and identity, by promoting membership, and continued financial stewardship.
And, we accomplished all of this within our budget, while undertaking necessary capital improvements.
However, even with regular capital investments, after 20 years of constant use the building is showing its age. Parts of the physical plant are nearing the end of their natural life cycle. The facility needs an upgrade to support both current and future, activities and services that bring the Jewish community through our doors. The wear on our building is a sign of how many people use our centre. Unfortunately, the investments required are beyond the scope of our annual budget.
With that in mind, I am pleased to announce the launch of our Capital Campaign, fully supported by the SJCC Board, and led by former board chair, and committed community volunteer, Bob Wener. Our goal is to raise $5,000,000 to refresh the building, initiate essential repairs to our infrastructure, renovate the change rooms, and develop a welcoming lobby area with a secure and efficient entry system. We hope to start renovations in the fall of 2019.
While our dedicated staff works continually to deliver new programs and services that respond to the needs of our community, our ultimate goal is to strengthen a true “centre” for the community, now and into the future. Please join us as we start our journey for the next 20 years.