Federation Report: SJCC set sights on next steps for 2020

Federation Report: SJCC set sights on next steps for 2020

By Mike Aronson, Chair,

Soloway Jewish Community Centre

There’s much truth in the old adage, “See how time flies when you’re having fun.” I can’t believe that my two-year term as board chair of the Soloway Jewish Community Centre (SJCC) will end at our upcoming annual general meeting on Wednesday, January 29. I hope to see you there.

This has been another year of innovation and accomplishments for the SJCC. I am proud of what our professional staff, volunteers, and our SJCC board have achieved. Their dedication, commitment and professionalism, have resulted in measurable success.

We grew our membership in both numbers and revenue for the second year in a row, in part by membership promotions such as “15 visits for the price of 10,” and the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s Jewish Jumpstart program, both of which resulted in many new members.

We had another hugely successful Ottawa Celebrity Sports Dinner, our premier fundraising event.

We hosted community-wide events like Yom Ha’Atzmaut, which brought over 800 people to the SJCC to celebrate Israel’s 71st anniversary.

Our Ganon Preschool is at capacity, and more than 70 per cent of last year’s graduates continued on to the Ottawa Jewish Community School.

More than 700 children spent the summer at JCC of Ottawa Summer Camps. We added a program for two-year olds, as a stepping stone to Ganon, as well as two new Specialty Camps (Cartooning and Musical Theatre) for a total of 20 camps.

Last fall, after tornadoes hit Ottawa, the SJCC remained open to provide hot showers and power to those who were affected by the storm.

And, we accomplished all of this within our budget, while undertaking necessary capital improvements. In fact, in the last three years we have spent $1.3 million on infrastructure improvements such as roof restoration/replacement, a new indoor pool dehumidification system, a new elevator, and a new emergency power generator.

Time has flown by for the SJCC building as well. It’s been 21 years since the move from Chapel Street to the “new” Joseph and Rose Ages Family Building. However, even with regular capital investments, after 21 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 community through our doors.

With that in mind, I am pleased to provide an update on our Capital Campaign, led by former board chair, and committed community volunteer, Bob Wener. Our goal is to raise $5 million to refresh the building, initiate essential repairs to our infrastructure, renovate the change rooms, develop a welcoming lobby area, and create a reserve fund. We hope to start renovations in 2020.

Our board is fully committed to this exciting venture, and have made meaningful commitments of over $300,000, which, coupled with very generous pledges, grants and allocations, total $2 million to date. Details on how you can make a contribution to the SJCC Capital Campaign will be available early in 2020.

While our dedicated staff continually works 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 21 years.

Mike Aronson is chair of the board of the Soloway Jewish Community Centre.