The Betty and Milton Katz JCC of Princeton Mercer Bucks is not yet open for business, but it is open to new members.
Launched on July 30, a pre-opening membership drive heralds the December 2012 opening of the JCC on the 60-acre Matthew and Staci Wilson Family Jewish Community Campus in West Windsor.
The JCC’s facilities and programs are estimated to account for about 80 percent of the 77,000-square-foot campus building. It will share the facility with the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks, the Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County, and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer.
Lee Rosenfield, CEO of the JCC and the campus, said that the membership campaign is being carried out through a combination of outreach efforts — thousands of e-mail messages and direct mailings, articles and advertisements in the Jewish and non-Jewish press, telephone calls, announcements in synagogue bulletins, posters at the Princeton Junction and Trenton train stations, and the JCC website — www.jccpmb.org.
“This is phase one of the drive, which is a specific outreach effort to the affiliated Jewish community — folks who are members of synagogues, supporters of the Jewish federation, members of other Jewish organizations in the community…as well as former members of the JCC,” said Rosenfield.
“These folks are eligible to receive the best membership rates we will ever offer.”
Membership categories include families, single-parent families, individual adults (26-64), couples, young adults (18-25), youths (13-17), senior adults (65 and older), senior couples, and Early Childhood Learning Center families.
The drive will focus on the Mercer County and Lower Bucks County communities, Rosenfield said, but he is confident that the new JCC will draw people from Middlesex and Monmouth counties as well.
“We hope to have thousands of Jews from the greater community belonging to the JCC,” he said. “To do so, you have to be offering vibrant programming and a very modern and utilitarian fitness facility.”
Matt Wilson of Pennington, a board member of both the JCC and the campus, said that the entire JCC board is focused on finding members. He and his wife, Staci, are the lead investors and donors in the campus project.
“We want the JCC to be a prominent centerpiece of the Jewish community,” Wilson said. “If we broaden our membership base, it’ll make our community a much more vibrant Jewish community.”
For JCC president Lynne Azarchi of West Windsor, the membership drive has crystallized the reality of the new campus. “For me, the selling of memberships is the beginning of creating a community, and it tells us we’re real,” said Azarchi, who grew up at the JCC in Trenton.
“It’s very exciting and joyful,” she said. “It really is to recreate what we had in Trenton — a community of communities, a community of families. It’s been a long time coming, but it was definitely worth waiting for.”
Pam Frank, a JCC board member and chair of the marketing committee, said the membership drive evokes memories of going to the JCC several times a week when she was growing up in Maplewood.
“I considered it my second home,” said Frank, who now lives in Lawrenceville with her husband, Andrew Frank, executive director of the Jewish Federation of PMB. “There was a real sense of ownership and investment and community.
“My hope is that we can build that same sense of place and community, where people really talk about it as their facility, their community.”
The ultimate goal is to get thousands of members through the doors of the JCC, Pam Frank said. To reach that goal, the JCC board is offering tours of the new campus each week.
“It’s a magnificent setting, a magnificent piece of property, but very accessible,” she said. “I feel like if we get it right and it becomes what we really believe it can be, we will have no problem attracting a vibrant membership.”
For Rosenfield, the key to a vibrant membership is vibrant programming — and he cited as examples the JCC’s new Early Childhood Learning Center, its Discovery Camp for young children slated to open next summer, its Parenting Center, its health and fitness programs, its gym and indoor swimming facilities, and its PJ Library Jewish books program for children.
“We’re giving people a taste of the different programming opportunities and benefits of joining the JCC,” he said.