West Hartford’s Mandell JCC receives ‘state-of-the-art’ family room upgrade

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WEST HARTFORD — A donation from a new philanthropic group has brought “state of the art” equipment to the Mandell JCC family room.

JNext, a group the Mandell JCC sees as the next generation of JCC members and supporters, was launched in 2021. They targeted the building’s Family Room Parenting Center, which opened nearly 20 years ago, to an upgrade needed.

“Over the years many people have used it,” said Annie Keith, Chief Operating Officer of the Mandell JCC. “But when this group came together, they said we really need to upgrade this facility. We want to invest in this part of the JCC. It’s open to the community and it’s for young families. We want There is a difference between giving to give and giving to invest.


Keith said the philanthropic group asked the JCC what they would do with the family room with $10,000, and the answer was to create a new activity center with modern amenities so the center’s younger visitors could learn and play.

“It adds value in that people are curious about what new business is,” Keith said. “Maybe someone who hasn’t been here for a while will come back. If we did the same thing all the time, there’s really no motivation for people to come out.

The new activity center includes a magnetic wall, a light table and a block game set based on a story from the library.

“It’s supposed to be a place for all the young families who want to come and meet other young families,” Keith said of the family room and activity center. “It is also a comfortable space to spend time with your children. It has grown beyond being just one piece. It has become a program center. Some of our programs take place in our playground or in our art gallery. They occur all over the JCC.

Amanda Katzman, who chairs the JNext group with Joshua Feldman, said the family room is an important place for her family.

“The Family Room is such a special space at JCC where parents can spend quality time with their young children and make new friendships with other families,” Katzman said. “The family room holds a special place in my heart, because I know how much my children appreciate this intimate space.

The bedroom is a unique space at the JCC, as it does not require its guests to be members of the establishment. They see it as the first place where young families become familiar with the establishment.

“It’s our very first connection with most of our families,” Keith said.

Keith said the JCC, like many other businesses and organizations, lost some of its customer base during the COVID-19 pandemic. She hopes that by improving the family room, they will be able to attract new visitors.

“We’re seeing people coming back and we want to have interesting things for them,” Keith said. “The JCC, like others, has suffered during COVID. We lost a lot of people coming here who were members. Everyone has lost customers. We try to make sure that we incorporate things into our programs and facilities that make people want to come back. It was so nice for us to have all of this to show people.

Keith said the JNext was going to be important for the future of the Mandell JCC.

“We chose the JNext name because they will be the next generation to help lead the JCC into the future,” Keith said.

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