How Two JCF Endowments Support JCC's Open Hearts/Open Doors
Today's story about JCF funds centers around the JCC Camps at Medford Open Hearts/Open Doors (OH/OD) program, which is described on their website as a "special needs inclusion camp program (that) provides accommodations that enable children with disabilities to fully participate with age-appropriate peers at camp."
Open Hearts/Open Doors is a fantastic program that benefits scores of campers every summer and is made possible thanks to generous outside support, including individual donors, the Raymond & Gertrude R. Saltzman Foundation, and two endowment funds managed by the JCF:
The David Keith Gesshel Endowment Fund
The Isaac and Sofia Greenberg Memorial Endowment Fund
Both of these endowment funds were established by donors in memory of loved ones in the early 2000's to benefit OH/OD for many future generations.
Fast forward to this year, the Katz JCC recently provided an insightful recap of how contributions from endowment funds and other sources benefited OH/OD for summer 2022, which we thought we would share with you. A lightly-edited version follows below, enjoy!
On behalf of the Katz Jewish Community Center, we are truly grateful to the David Keith Gesshel Endowment Fund and the Isaac and Sofia Greenberg Memorial Endowment Fund for supporting a Jewish child to attend the Open Hearts/Open Doors program.
The JCC Camps at Medford had an incredible Summer 2022 camp season. With 1530 campers at camp this summer, our camper numbers were the highest they have been in 10 years.
Open Hearts/Open Doors continues to be the shining star of the JCC Camps at Medford, and the power of inclusion was at play this camp season – in both large moments and small. Here are some of our most powerful moments of Summer 2022:
● Watching our campers and staff stream off the buses on the first day of camp and seeing their faces light up with joy as they entered their summer home.
● A maintenance team member – who knew a camper with special needs loved seeing his truck each day – took the time to get out, stoop down, and give her a pinwheel flower at the end of the summer.
● A camper who wouldn’t put his face in the water at the start of the summer due to sensory issues who will now swim underwater.
● The moment a camper with severe vision impairment walked off a pavilion without his cane, and a friend from his bunk came running and gently put the cane in his hand.
● When our “Coolanu” participants smiled with pride handing over a cold drink that they made at Brewlanu. “Coolanu” provides teens with special needs ages 14-20 with a unique life, job, and leisure skills program.
● “Wacky Rainbow Day,” where we celebrated diversity and love in a beautiful and joyous way.
● A “Leadership in Training (LIT)” trip to Six Flags, where a group of teens supported and embraced a peer with cerebral palsy so that she could enjoy the day at a pace that worked for her.
● A former “Open Hearts/Open Doors” camper, now on staff, who won Counselor of the Year as his bunk screamed and cheered his name.
● Eight former counselors and advocates who stepped into their first time leadership team roles as assistant division heads and case managers – and flourished and grew all summer long.
What a memorable summer for so many campers, counselors, and administrators! This heartwarming report reflects the impact that endowment funds can have every year into the future.
Thank you to the JCC Camps at Medford for managing such a vital program in OH/OD, and thank you to the generous individual and endowment donors who support it each year.
Interested in Impacting the Future?
To learn about starting your own endowment fund to benefit OH/OD or another community initiative that you love, please contact the JCF at 856-673-2528. Your generosity will make a difference in countless lives for many generations.