Supporting a Community is What Drives the J In Its Mission

By Mackenzie Taylor
In Culture

Though you may think of the Jewish Community Center (the J) as a place for fitness, you may not know that Center offers a unique sense of community and support at locations in Creve Coeur and Chesterfield. For more than 130 years, the J has welcomed people of all faiths, races, ethnicities and backgrounds.

Through its varied programs and events, the J is a place where members and guests can connect and discover true community. In fact, it gathers more than 70,000 people together every year. On any given afternoon, the fitness floors and group exercise studios are buzzing. The pools are alive with Aqua fitness classes and swimmers (and soon-to-be swimmers) of all ages. In the café, you’ll find individuals socializing and sharing a meal or a game.


Photo by Matt Kile

While the J focuses on bringing people together, the organization is also passionate about caring for its community in a variety of ways. It empowers and helps to shape youth through Early Childhood education, camps and youth sports. The organization is also committed to enriching the lives of seniors: In its Adult Day Center program, adults with Alzheimer’s and other challenges are provided stimulating social activities, and their caregivers are offered critical support services.

On the performance side, an emphasis on rich cultural arts feeds the souls of performers and audience members of all ages and abilities. And, for its Jewish members and participants, significant Jewish programming and education is available, too.

In loving support of its community, Kitchen J—another program of the Community Center—serves more than 2,500 meals each month to low-income seniors and the homebound elderly within the community. But the giving doesn’t end there. Thanks to its generous funders, donors and sponsors, the J gives away more than $600,000 in scholarship each year to individuals and families who want to participate in its programs but need financial assistance.

“The J is all about supporting family. Everything we do improves someone’s life in some way. Of course, we deliver excellent fitness,” explains Lisa Marucci, director of marketing and communications, “but the J is much more than a gym.”

And that support is seen everywhere while walking through the large facilities. Members know each other by name, waving and smiling at each other from across the room. Even the staff take the time to ask about family members or how the kids are doing in school. The sense of community and support is felt deeply, and that’s something you can only find at the J.

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