Trying to learn about the latest developments at the Marcus JCC, we spoke with chief development/marketing officer Janel Margaretta about how the agency reaches beyond its core, about plans for a third preschool and the upcoming Maccabi Games there.
AJT: There’s a large Jewish population intown that doesn’t necessarily want to go to Dunwoody.
Margaretta: We do offer different programs for them. For example, we offer a pilot program with basketball in the Piedmont area. We were offering some programming at The Temple. We are trying different programs in different parts of the city to see what works. We also offer busing in the summertime from various places in the city to come to the Zaban Park campus or to Emory University. We also have an intown outreach coordinator, Lauren Checkanow, and she does various pop-up programs for young families. She was doing some programming at Chabad on the BeltLine, and she does a lot of public space programs in town.
AJT: What are the activities you have at Emory?
Margaretta: We have a very robust day camp program with over 100 options over the summer. Some are here at Zaban Park; some are at Temple Kol Emeth in East Cobb and at Emory where there is a drama camp.
AJT: How do you serve people in Alpharetta, for instance?
Margaretta: We have a large group of people from that area that come to Zaban Park to play catchball, … womens’ volleyball. They come via bus.
AJT: What changes does the MJCCA plan, and do any of those include expansion?
Margaretta: We are always looking for opportunities but our plans right now are to do a lot of partnerships to connect to the Jewish community around Atlanta in ways that we can utilize existing space and to be able to take our programs on the road.
AJT: Future plans?
Margaretta: We are really excited. We have received a Federation innovation grant for a program that we are hoping to launch next year. We are calling it JCC on Wheels. The idea is that we would purchase a trailer and it would basically be almost a mobile classroom, and we would take it on the road, to Alpharetta or East Cobb, Roswell, intown. … And we could offer our programming anywhere there is a demand for it, any neighborhood looking for Jewish connection, and we could be anywhere people need the JCC to be. We also have some funding from the Jewish Community Center Association of North America, but we still need additional funding to make this dream a reality, hopefully sometime in the winter or spring.
AJT: Anything else we should know?
Margaretta: We recently opened our third preschool, The Schiff School, at Temple Emanu-El in Sandy Springs. We have our preschool here, The Weinstein School at Zaban Park, and The Sunshine School at Temple Kol Emeth.
We are looking for other preschools that might enjoy having the JCC operate there, and to see if other areas of the city would benefit from our award-winning curriculum.
We recently expanded our fitness offerings at Zaban Park. Maccabi is on the horizon, which of course you know. We have 1,800 campers on site this summer and 1,250 up at Camp Barney and another whole bunch in our preschool camps, so we are in summer mode. It smells like sunscreen around here.