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Central JCC dives into big new pool plan
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Central JCC dives into big new pool plan

The outdoor pool at the JCC in Scotch Plains is getting an upgrade to enhance its features for preschool children and youngsters with special needs.     
The outdoor pool at the JCC in Scotch Plains is getting an upgrade to enhance its features for preschool children and youngsters with special needs.     

With a challenge grant from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and donations from members and supporters, the JCC of Central New Jersey is planning a major upgrade to its outdoor pool area.

Dubbed the J20 project, the $180,000 plan includes a “zero-entry” pool with a sloping entrance, and splash-pad play features for preschool children and youngsters with special needs. Improvements include a new game area, landscaping, and awnings to provide shade, all intended, JCC leaders say, “to create a more attractive ‘swim-club-like’ environment.”

They aim to have it completed by Memorial Day 2015. 

“To date we are thrilled to announce that we’ve already raised over $114,000 for the project, and we’re within reach of hitting our goal,” said Pam Brewster, chair of the J20 Task Force.

Impetus for the project comes from a challenge grant that the JCC’s Camp Yachad received from the Massachusetts-based Grinspoon Foundation through its JCamp 180 Program. The JCC, a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, and camp are located on the Wilf Jewish Community Campus in Scotch Plains.

Under the program, the Grinspoon Foundation will set aside $35,000 to match gifts donated toward the outdoor pool project. Gifts of between $2,500 and $35,000 will be matched at a 1:3 ratio, or 33 cents for every dollar donated.

All pledges must be received by Dec. 31 in order to be eligible for the grant match, though donors don’t have to pay them in full until Dec. 31, 2016. 

On its website, the JCC leadership states, “While we hope to attract matchable gifts in the $2,500-$35,000 range, we encourage gifts of any amount and will continue to solicit funds if needed beyond the Dec. 31, 2014, deadline for the Grinspoon match.”

In September 2010, Brewster said, Camp Yachad was one of the first eight JCC day camps chosen to participate in the foundation’s JCamp 180 program, which was designed to help Jewish day camps plan for their future.

“Prior to that time, the Grinspoon Foundation focused primarily on Jewish residential camps,” she said. “Because of Camp Yachad’s exemplary work in the JCamp 180 program, it was awarded a challenge grant toward a capital improvement project to benefit the camp’s facilities.”

She said, “We are thankful to have leveraged the support of our members, their family foundations, and their businesses as well as the incredible support from our board of directors to date, and are moved by donors who have challenged the entire community to give.” 

The Grinspoon grant comes with a participation challenge to the board of directors as well as one to the early childhood parents’ community.

JCC executive director Jennifer Mamlet said, “We are always looking for ways to add value to our members’ experience. The idea for another outdoor pool has been on a wish list for some time, but until the Grinspoon match, we didn’t think we would have the resources to build it.”

To learn more, go to jccnj.org or call 908-889-8800.

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