A Message from the CEO with an Attitude of Gratitude
It seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago at the same time. On March 16, we launched Channel J just days before Governor Pritzker’s Shelter at Home order went into effect. JCC Chicago had already suspended childcare and preschool at six early childhood centers and would make the heart-wrenching decision to cancel Camp Chi’s 99th season weeks later.
As an agency grounded in community connection, engagement and relationships, those days in mid-March brought great uncertainty— it was hard to see how the J would be the J with our doors closed. Not knowing what would come next, we started tracking every pivot, every post and every program. Each week, our tracking document was updated with the number of film downloads, Practical Parenting participants, Shabbat song session views and more. As we worked through more difficult decisions than we could count, the arrival of the program overview every Monday morning was a welcome and encouraging reminder of what JCC Chicago is about, and how our community continued to choose connection even while apart.
Two full-day Early Childhood locations opened on June 29, Apachi Day Camps and Chi Family Getaway soon followed in early July, and the Marvin Lustbader Health Club reopened on July 15. While planning for reopening has taken tremendous time and effort, the joy and appreciation of our JCC Chicago children, teens, community members and families came quickly. The uplifting pictures flooded in, along with incredible messages of gratitude from every corner of the community while #campchimagic and #bestplaceunderthesun hashtags filled our social feeds.
With the conclusion of the full closure period, the weekly tracking document has now morphed into an impact report, highlighting JCC Chicago’s impact from mid-March to the end of June when the first early childhood families returned to school. While so much of what JCC Chicago is known for was on pause, our incredible program staff ideated, created, launched and supported a slate of programming for which we are all both proud and grateful.
Getting back to doing what we do best has always been the focus. All that has happened in the interim brings us more nachas than we could have ever predicted. I hope you enjoy the look back and join us in celebrating the innovation and creativity of today’s JCC Chicago. We hope to see you on campus, online and on Channel J and invite you to share in our Attitude of Gratitude.