By Lisa Katon
Donor Relations & Grants Specialist
Jackson and Nina. George and Albert. Crixus and Aubrey. Maeve and Ziva. Amaya, Ella and Dot. Louie and Payton. Clark, Lowell and Simon. Liana and Sylvie.*
What do all of these names have in common? They are just some of the lucky children of current MJCC staff members. Children who are growing up at the MJCC, taking advantage of the classes, comfort and community of this place. Some of them are now well into their teens and even twenties. But that doesn’t mean they don’t still remember the place where they proudly took their first strokes in the warm water pool, shot hoops in the gym, scored their first goal in the bubble, took music lessons, joined the Stingrays, got their first job, celebrated Hanukkah and Purim, and learned to tumble and to conquer the climbing wall.
I have been pondering this topic a lot now that my daughters are no longer in the building daily. I have been marveling at the new generation of colleagues’ kids who are now taking their place in swim classes, drop-in childcare, day camp and myriad other activities that take place under this one roof. It used to be mine who were fighting over who gets to hit the automatic door buttons. And the ones who used to sit on the downstairs couch munching on snacks after swimming lessons.
My twin daughters, Liana and Sylvie, are now in high school just up the street. But the MJCC is still their home away from home. Liana is here weekly for BBYO meetings, which take place in the rooms and hallways of PJA, where she hopes to run into her former teachers. Sylvie is here quite regularly between high school sports seasons to go for a swim or to work out in the fitness center. And last summer she got her first job here as a Day Camp counselor. No longer do they need me to drive them here, which is sometimes a blessing, but also bittersweet.
As I ponder my own youth, growing up in this very same building, I am heartened to know that I was able to provide my daughters with a childhood full of memories, new skills, friendships, leadership opportunities, a love of fitness, and Jewish pride, thanks to the MJCC. Like all of the children listed here, and the many others whose families have chosen to make the MJCC their community, they are the lucky ones. For whenever they come through these doors…in a stroller or after having driven themselves here…they will always see a familiar face and find comfort in knowing they will always belong at the J.
*NOTE: This is not a comprehensive list of all current MJCC employees’ children.