‘Debt-free’ Y looks ahead to federation merger

‘Debt-free’ Y looks ahead to federation merger

Hopes to see funding increases after years of local belt-tightening

Leaders of the YM-YWHA of Union County hope a merger of two local Jewish federations will eventually strengthen their own financial position.

Till now, the Y has been a partnership agency of the Jewish Federation of Central NJ, which is merging with United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ. The new Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ is to launch July 1.

At the Union Y’s annual meeting on June 12, executive vice president Bryan Fox said he hoped the merged federations will find a way to increase allocations after years of belt-tightening.

Federation funding “has been dropping dramatically” in recent years, he said. “Next year we will see another cut of 9 percent, or $21,000 more.”

Added Fox: “We wish them much luck [with the merger] and hope that a revitalized federation will be able to once again return our funding to historic levels of years ago that were 50 percent higher than our next allocation will be.”

The facility on Green Lane in Union will be the smallest of the three Jewish community centers in the expanded community, compared to the JCC of Central NJ on the Wilf campus in Scotch Plains and the Leon & Toby Cooperman JCC in West Orange.

The Y is fiscally sound, said Fox, despite the drop in federation funding and the fact that its grant from the NJ Division of Family Development — its major source of revenue for its child-care services — will no longer be for a guaranteed amount each year, due to a new, variable administrative system.

“The Y is debt-free and has been for a number of years,” said Fox. The “very small deficit” this year is covered by income from its endowment. The annual campaign goal of $100,000 is looking well within reach; on the day of the meeting pledges reached a total of $49,550.

Staff longevity

With current president RoAnna Pascher having agreed to serve a third year, the focus of the meeting was on the customary installation of board members, minor adjustments in the constitution to accommodate the new Greater MetroWest NJ affiliation, and a presentation of awards.

The Abraham Izak President’s Award went to Mark Bloomberg, the immediate past president who also served for three years and who continues to serve on the board. The Department of the Year Award went to Jackie Baranoff, director of membership and marketing.

Fox acknowledged the major loss the Y family has faced with the death over the past year of five of its stalwart board members: Sol Kramer, Ziggy Wahrman, Joe Resnick, Steven Prawer, and Sonia Oshman, and the passing of Ruth Veit, the wife of board member Benjamin Veit.

But Fox stressed the ongoing stability of the organization, as evidenced by the longevity of the professional staff — ranging from Andrea Pargas’s 31 years, to program director Jani Jonas’s 27, to his own 26 — and the dedication that implies.

“If you want to know how we do it,” he said, referring to the Y’s success on a very limited budget, “that’s how.”

Another sign of health is the number of youngsters signed up for the Y’s summer camp program. As of June 12, 412 campers had been registered, putting them well on the way to outreaching last year’s final total of 466.

The camp runs from June 26 to Aug. 17. Camp director Jeff Schultz, a lifelong Y camper and counselor himself, said they are still welcoming late applicants into all three sections — Chaverim, for yeshiva students; Kinneret, which focuses on Jewish and Israeli themes; and Y-Ho-Ca, the most “culturally diverse.”

“If they can’t do a whole session, people can also sign up for part of one,” Schultz said. “We’re flexible and we do our best to accommodate everyone.”

Those wishing to register or obtain more information can go to www.UnionYCamps.org or call Schultz at 908-289-8112, ext. 28.

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