Grass-roots group works to keep JCC’s doors open

Jewish Federation announces RFP

By: Kayla Dimick, Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | C&G Newspapers | Published April 8, 2015

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OAK PARK — After the news that the Jewish Community Center in Oak Park will close, members of a local grass-roots group are taking it upon themselves to raise money to keep the building open.


The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit announced in a community briefing March 5 that the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit will cease programming and services at the Oak Park facility after Aug. 31.


Aaron Tobin, committee co-chair of Save the Oak Park JCC, said the group held a meeting March 30 at the Jimmy Prentis Morris Building on 10 Mile Road to unveil two major projects that aim to keep the doors of the JCC location open.


About 100 people attended the meeting, Tobin said, and it was revealed that the group set up a fundraising page on crowdrise.com where people can donate to the cause.


Through this fundraising drive, the group will provide one-year membership scholarships for students and young adults between the ages of 18 and 29, according to Tobin.


Tobin said the goal of the scholarships, which will include memberships to the location’s fitness center and pool, is to draw in a younger crowd.


“What we are doing is bringing the younger people in the community in,” Tobin said. “Everybody is welcome to apply. It’s not just for the Jewish community.”


Although the group does want to draw in more people, Tobin said the ultimate goal is to financially strengthen the JCC.


In addition to unveiling the fundraising campaign, the committee also launched an effort to issue surveys that ask community members what they would like to see for the future of the center, such as keeping the Kosher restaurant, various classes, and the fitness center and pool.


Tobin said the survey will first go out to all JCC members, then to the surrounding community.


The survey will be more than just words on a page, however. Tobin said the group wants to capture what the community loves about the JCC.


“What we’re putting in writing is what is most important: our outpour of love and commitment and emotion. We want to capture that love and passion and commitment and put it on paper.”


As of press time, the group had raised $1,283 for the scholarship fundraiser.


In addition to the scholarships and surveys, Tobin said, the group also helped the federation with drafting a request for proposals for the facility.


Because of the JCC’s ongoing annual deficit of more than $800,000, operations at the Oak Park facility will cease operations by Aug. 31, unless a solution is found to eliminate a large portion of the deficit.


The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit announced in a press release April 1 that the Real Estate Projects subcommittee of the United Jewish Foundation of Metropolitan Detroit — which works with the Jewish Federation as a unit — released a request for proposal for the facility. Parties interested in using the property are invited to submit bids.


The intention of the RFP is to find a user who will keep the facility as a community center, serving Jewish patrons within the surrounding municipalities — including Oak Park, Southfield, Ferndale, Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge and Troy — according to the press release.


Scott Kaufmann, CEO of the Jewish Federation, could not be reached for comment by press time.


Those interested in filing an RFP can do so by visiting www.jewishdetroit.org. For more information, email gustafson@jfmd.org.

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