November 14, 2021 @ 11:00 am

Gary Bernstein: CEO Presentation
JCA Annual Meeting – November 14, 2021

Good morning, everyone.

Thank you for joining us this morning at the Friedman JCC for our 2021 JCA Annual Members Meeting.

I’d like to start off by offering congratulations to our two teen award winners, Carla Weiss and Laurel Roth. To you Chuck Cohen, thank you for pinch hitting for Greg Fellerman our interim President today. The Friedman JCC has benefited from your time, commitment, and generosity.

It is important that we also recognize and let our JCA President John Thalenfeld know that we miss him. John is rehabilitating from an illness. We send him our prayers and good wishes for a speedy recovery.

Today we pause and look back on a year that proved exceptionally rewarding for our agency, for our employees, and for our volunteers.

To put it rather simplistically – being the CEO of this agency is the full package. It’s exciting and demanding; it’s full of surprises; now and then it’s highly emotional and sometimes also quite interesting. However, at the same time it is also extremely fulfilling and gives me a sense of purpose.

It is this sense of purpose that helps me come to work motivated every day: I feel that I am leading an agency that is undoubtedly going through a transitional period. It is a special organization that is worth supporting.


Because this agency, our JCA, constantly proves that it possesses remarkable resilience and strength. Resilience and strength that many people may underestimate.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we achieved a lot in 2021 and have made significant advances especially with the challenges we faced with COVID-19.

For example,

With the support of the SJ Strauss Housing Foundation and especially to David Schwager and the rest of its board of trustees, we were able to expand our Illumination Early Learning Center, by adding an additional 2400 square feet of space while growing our student enrollment from 70 to over 100 children.

With assistance from our CFO Lynn Bachstein, IELC has applied for and will receive an additional $242,915 this year from an (ARPA) American Rescue Plan Act grant. This grant is earmarked to pay for operations, benefits, and mortgage payments due to the pandemic.

The growth in our IELC is due in large part to the hard work and leadership of AnneMarie Carl our Illumination Director and to Bill Grant & Fred Levy from our Board.

Our summer camp, which had been in financial and operational decline for several years, is now on the rebound. With gratitude to Doug Miller our Camp Director, we attracted nearly 250 active campers in 2021, the camp program produced a net profit of $59,000. This is a $230k net profit turnaround from 2019. We are blessed to have an active camp committee assisting Doug. Thanks to Greg Fellerman, Rob Friedman, David Schwager, Barbara Bell & John Thalenfeld for their passion and interest and for providing the financial support to make this turnaround materialize.

With respect to JCC Membership, our rolls have increased a whopping 60% this year. Going from 386 members at the start of the year to now over 560 members. Remy Sweeney our new Membership Services Director and Dave Kayton our Membership Chair and the Membership Committee are working to recruit new members and retain the ones we have. In fact, the next open house is scheduled for Sunday, December 5.

Tribute Gala event co-chairs Karen Kalna Blum, and Taly Kornfeld along with staff extraordinaire Barbara Sugarman handled all the details and executed a profitable, successful, and safe in-person Tribute Gala honoring our JCA Annual Campaign Chair, Steve Davidowitz in June. We also received added support and assistance from Jim Brogna and Allied Health Services which made this event even more special.

For those that know me, when I’m not working, you can probably find me on the golf course. Even though I’m still a hacker, I enjoy the game immensely. Our 60th Annual JCC Golf Outing at Huntsville Golf Club attracted over 100 players and 52 sponsors last month. Originally scheduled for August, but because of a heavy rainstorm, we had to reschedule the event to October. It did however work out flawlessly.

We achieved many of our objectives while laying a foundation for a continued positive trajectory for 2022 and beyond.

So, what’s next?

We are projecting a smaller deficit for FYE 2021 than originally budgeted by rigorously controlling our occupancy costs, cutting other expenses, and generating additional revenues through added facility rentals, and more programming. Our projection this year is to have a favorable variance to budget.

There is a particular new program that we are all getting excited about. The JCC will be getting into the before and after school care business at Good Shepherd Academy in Kingston. Hopefully we will be able to parlay this one school into many other locations which will ultimately improve our bottom line. Thanks to Lynn Bachstein, Kevin Harcarik and Bill Grant for attending to all the details in getting this program off the ground.

There is an enthusiastic consensus that the JCC Camp is truly an asset with potential well beyond its current offering. With careful planning and judicious investment, the JCC Camp can reemerge as the notable and popular day camp it once was, and furthermore, the entire property be transformed into an attractive center for family and social gatherings and corporate events, and a widely recognized and exciting regional destination.

Thanks to a recently awarded RACP grant received from the State, we are planning numerous infrastructure improvements as well as more vibrant programming designed to make camp more appealing to children of all backgrounds and ages.

The current and anticipated day camp experience is generally well received but requires significant change. By incorporating a variety of improvements, continually adapting to the trends and interests of the campers, and adopting a vigorous marketing campaign, the Camp should once again thrive and attract the kinds of attendance seen in the past.

JCC Leadership has emphasized that in the future the existing camp facility should be viewed not just as a camp but rebranded as an Outdoor Activities Campus that also hosts a day camp.

The outlook is exciting!

A sampling of some other goals moving forward include:
• Serving and assisting more families in need
• Growing our Membership rolls
• Expanding our program offerings
• Collaborating more with our sister agencies
• Continue raising the necessary funds to complete our capital building campaign
• Working with our current board to identify and recruit a cadre of young leaders and prospective donors
• And finally, our top priority is to keep adding value for you, our members.

For this to happen, we need a true working partnership between our staff and lay leaders and volunteers.

We have so much potential in our agency and have much talent within our ranks. We must provide the necessary tools and clear away the obstacles. Besides integrity and teamwork, there is another attribute we must embrace which is to build an entrepreneurial spirit.

We have a small but very talented staff. They work hard each day to make this Center great. My staff & I are committed to making good financial decisions that will sustain us long into the future. We are dedicated to staffing this agency with a good heart, treating people the way we all want to be treated and how our Jewish values and ethics will shape the decisions we make.

I’d like to now take a moment and recognize the JCC staff who are here today:
1) Lynn Bachstein, Chief Financial Officer
2) AnneMarie Carl, the Director of Illumination Early Learning Center
3) Barbara Sugarman, Cultural & Adult Program Director
4) Doug Miller, Camp Director
5) Bob Hunt the Center’s Facility Director
6) Remington Sweeney, Membership Services Director
7) Albert Solorio, our Maintenance

In conclusion, I would like to thank our staff and board – for their commitment and hard work. It is this commitment and hard work, which ensure we remain successful during these challenging times.

Gary Bernstein
Chief Executive Office