At right, at the Rady JCC AGM, Ben Haid receives a certificate from outgoing Rady JCC executive director Gayle Waxman in recognition of Ben’s 15 years of service at the Rady JCC.

By BERNIE BELLAN
At two separate events:the Rady JCC Annual General Meeting, held Thursday December 13, and a special farewell event held Tuesday, December 18, Gayle Waxman was honoured for her 13 years of service as the Rady JCC executive director. (Waxman will be leaving as of January to take up a new position as head of a nation-wide nursing association.

 

She noted at the AGM that her background prior to becoming the Rady executive director was also in health care.)
Both at the AGM and at the special farewell event, Waxman took the opportunity to look back over her time spent as executive director. Her speeches were both poignant and loaded with interesting observations about how much the Rady JCC has evolved during her tenure as executive director.
As well, on both occasions outgoing Rady JCC president Debbie Hoffman took the opportunity not only to point out some of the highlights of the past year at the Rady JCC, also to welcome the incoming president, Lindsay Sawyer Fay.
In her remarks Hoffman noted that the Rady JCC now has 5,500 members. Its “child care, aquatics and camp programs are all running at full capacity.”
In addition, ongoing programs such as Tarbut, Music ‘n Mavens, the Jewish Film Festival, and In the Know have continued to grow, while new programs this past year such as Puzzle Israel have also proved quite successful. This year’s Yom Ha’atsmaut program, held to mark the 70th anniversary of Israel’s birth as a nation, was the largest ever Yom Ha’atsmaut celebration at the Asper Campus, attracting over 3,000 individuals.
(In its annual report, it was also noted that the Rady JCC “welcomed over 1 million visits last year, with 2/3 of those visits for programming beyond the fitness centre.”)
In thanking Gayle Waxman, Hoffman said she wanted “to recognize all the valuable talents she has brought to this organization, helping to shape it to what it is today.”
Hoffman made special mention of Waxman’s efforts in bringing in individuals with special needs, noting that “inclusion is more than a buzz word found in a program guide.”
“What impressed me most,” Hoffman continued, looking at Waxman, “is the regard you have for individuals.
“Your door is open, you answer your phone day and night – you listen and respond.
“You once told me you love listening to people’s feedback, especially if someone has a complaint or suggestion. You said that’s how you learn from your mistakes.”

Among the highlights of the Rady JCC’s Statement of Operations (for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2018) were the following items:
• Total revenue increased, from $7,613,892 in 2017 to $7,784,370 in 2018.
• Total expenses also increased, from $7,580,853 to $7,695,738.
• The Rady JCC provides a huge number of jobs within the community, with $3,484,616 paid out in salaries and benefits.
As is the custom at every Rady JCC AGM, a number of individuals received awards. Three of the most notable award recipients were: Harvey Cogan (known for his dedication to swimming 50 laps in the pool every day), who received the Sid Slonim Award; Ben Haid, for 15 years of serving on the Rady JCC staff; and Victoria Morton, for 20 years of service.

At the farewell event for Gayle Waxman held in the foyer of the Berney Theatre on December 18, a former president of the Rady JCC, Jeff Lieberman, who was president at the time that the previous Rady JCC executive director, Hal Bordy, announced that he and his wife Cheryl would be leaving Winnipeg, told how he and Murray Gilfix, a longtime Rady JCC board member, came away so impressed with Gayle when they interviewed her for the executive director position.
“The Rady JCC always had an outstanding sports facility,” Lieberman noted, but it was lacking funds for cultural programs.
“Gayle slowly changed the culture of the Rady JCC,” he continued,. With the help of current assistant executive director Tamar Barr, Gayle proceeded to institute a broad range of cultural programming, Lieberman said (and which outgoing president Debbie Hoffman enumerated in her own remarks at both the AGM and the farewell event for Gayle.
Lieberman mentioned that, before he left as executive director, Hal Bordy had told him there were three components to building a great Jewish Community Centre:

A top notch facility, a successful summer camp program, and a day care.
As is noted in our article on page 8 about Gayle Waxman’s farewell address at the AGM, it was during her time as executive director that the final two components of what Hal Bordy had outlined were ultimately achieved. Lieberman also observed that the summer camp program’s success has been inextricably related to the campership program developed under Gayle’s tutelage which, in turn, has been related to the dynamic growth of the Rady JCC Sports Dinner to the pre-eminent event of its type in Western Canada, if not all of Canada, Lieberman said.
What has also happened under Gayle Waxman’s tenure, Lieberman added, is that the “Rady JCC has become the one place in Winnipeg where all Jews feel comfortable.”
As a final note, Lieberman announced that the 2019 Rady JCC Sports Dinner (to be held June 18) will have as its guest speaker, former baseball great Alex Rodriguez. (No word on whether Alex will be accompanied by her equally famous companion, Jennifer Lopez. Maybe Jennifer will want to return here after having been here for a while in 2003 when she, along with Richard Gere, were filming “Shall We Dance?”)

 

Gayle Waxman’s final address at  Rady AGM
Gayle WaxmanIn her remarks looking back over her 13 year-tenure as Rady JCC executive director, Gayle Waxman spoke wistfully about her time running what has grown into a hugely important institution. She began by looking back to her own days a young member of the old YMHA on Hargrave: “One thing that struck me shortly after assuming my role were the many positive memories that people had of the YMHA – including myself, and I thought back to Les Marks…who really inspired me.”
Waxman told how various programs got their start. “We started a few simple programs – things like ‘Family Fun Zone’; we got a bouncer and all of a sudden 75 people began to show up.
“Jeff Lieberman told me about a program they were doing at River Heights Community Centre for ‘teens & tweens’. Everybody was reminiscing about the days of the clubs (at the old YMHA), but we knew the days of the clubs were gone. We wanted to create something that was more relevant today and that morphed into the “Teens & Tweens” program and we’re still getting like 90 kids out when we host that.
“We started a couple of programs that would be open to the community at large and the one that is closest to my heart is Yom Ha’atsmaut. I grew up in a family that had a close commitment to Israel.”
Referring to this past year’s celebration (which saw a record attendance of over 3,000 individuals). Waxman noted that it drew together just about every Jewish organization in Winnipeg, and showed “what it means to be a community.”
Turning to some observations about how the Rady JCC has changed since she first assumed the role of executive director, Waxman noted that “summers used to be extremely quiet on the campus. But now, that’s no longer the case. Between the camps, aquatics, and our child care programs, the building is full of energy. We probably have between 400-500 kids in the building during the day.”
Youth programs during the winter months have also been greatly expanded, Waxman observed. “Come in on a Tuesday or Thursday evening and it’s like a revolving door,” she said.
“Kids are leaving from badminton or swimming, while others are coming in for floor hockey. It’s really quite amazing.”
As well, “Seniors play an active and vital role in our community and they’re involved in every aspect of the Rady JCC,” Waxman said. “Our cultural programs, which are second to none, continue to bring new, innovative talent to our community.”
“There are two programs in particular” Waxman chose to highlight: “Our newcomer outreach program, which began a couple of years ago…Last weekend we had a community Chanukah celebration in Transcona. We had over 120 people there.”
Secondly, “We really put an emphasis on child care. For those of you who know me, you know that when I moved here (from Toronto) I had a 2 year-old and I couldn’t find day care.”
At the time the only Jewish community day care in the city was provided by Aleph Bet Day Care, which was in the north end (on Sinclair Street). While Aleph Bet had considered whether to open up a south end branch, Waxman said that she was told by Elana Schultz who, at the time, was the president of Aleph Bet,, that “they really couldn’t handle opening a south end day care. “Would you like to take it on?” Elana asked Gayle.
“That has resulted from what was then a child care centre with 24 kids to our now serving over 200 kids.
“We’ve created not just one, but three programs: The Kaufman Child Care Centre, the David and Ruth Asper Early Learning Centre, and now the after-school program at Brock Corydon.
“These programs followed the direction that the community set and, in doing so, these initiatives embodied the values and the mission that are at the core of the Rady JCC. If we have been successful – it’s that simple, and that is why.”