August 6, 2018
Shop Talk

New JCC director focuses on community building

Photo | Brad Kane
Emily Rosenbaum, executive director, Worcester JCC

Emily Rosenbaum

Title: Executive director

Organization: Worcester JCC

Founded: 1948

Employees: 130-200, including part time and seasonal

Age: 55

Birthplace: Concord

Residence: Leominster

Education: Bachelor's degree in anthropology, Vassar College in New York; master's degree in public administration, New York University

Since she replaced Emily Holdstein as Worcester JCC executive director on Jan. 1, Emily Rosenbaum has sought to use the organization's prestige to help other nonprofits and enhance the JCC's role in the community.

Why did you want this role?

This is my community. I go to Congregation Beth Israel just down the road from the JCC. I really enjoy being part of the Jewish community in Worcester, and I've really enjoyed being part of the efforts to build community organizations. It was exciting for me to put those two together, along with this opportunity to be part of a beautiful community center welcoming to people of all faiths and backgrounds, ages and experiences.

What is your main initiative?

Launching this fall will be JCC Cares. It is a network of volunteers using JCC as their homebase to go and serve in local community-based organizations to help them fulfill their missions. Oftentimes, you have people in the community who want to get involved and you have organizations that need support, but those organization don't have volunteer coordinators who can reach out for help, and people in the community don't know how to reach out to them.

We have a volunteer coordinator at the JCC who has done an excellent job organizing senior volunteers, and we have a teen coordinator. I am putting them together to match volunteers to organizations who need the support for their missions.

What organizations are you helping?

The Literacy Project of Worcester will be one of our partners, as will Rachel's Table, Jewish Healthcare Center and Eisenberg Assisted Living. We will expand and select more organizations.

Do you have enough volunteers?

We have a core of a couple dozen regular volunteers, and we will add to that. We will have volunteering throughout the year, but we will have one large day of service to engage more people and families. It will be called Good Deeds Day, and the first one will be April 7.

Are the JCC's finances stable enough to do all that extra work?

Our revenues are strong. We are at a $4-million annual operating budget, and the majority of that is programming income. We do fundraise, but that money goes to scholarships.

We have 950 individual, couple and family memberships, which represents about 3,000 people. Of those members, 30 percent are Jewish and 70 percent are of different faiths.

Are you planning to grow that base?

We want to start getting the word out about our corporate affiliates program. Health and wellness is such a big deal, and for companies with a Worcester workforce, we have the facilities and the child care for employees to get a workout in. We have great fitness programs.

We are partnering with local corporations, and their employees get a 15-percent discount as members. People spend a lot of time at their jobs and have dedication to their family and community as well, but health and wellness is so important, they need to take time to keep themselves healthy.

Under the program, we will give businesses $500 for every 10 employees they sign up, for the costs of them administering their program.

We want to bring in new members, show the community what we have to offer through preschool and the camps. The more people take advantage of these opportunities, the more it strengthens our business model. As that happens, we can make more physical improvements to modernize the facility here.

This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by WBJ Editor Brad Kane.


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