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Senator Bob Casey Visits JCC of Greater Pittsburgh

By Jason Kunzman

In our increasingly multifaceted and complex society, collaboration between government and non-profit organizations is paramount in shaping the present and future of our community. At the heart of a thriving community often lies a dynamic partnership between the public sector and non-profit organizations. This collaboration can be a powerful force that when harnessed effectively, can bring about positive and lasting change.

Earlier today, the JCC was honored to host U.S. Senator Bob Casey to our Squirrel Hill location. Senator Casey is a longtime friend of our local Jewish community and a champion of many of the issues the JCC seeks to address each and every day – inclusion, keeping older adults independent and high-quality childcare just to name a few. During the Senator’s visit, he toured our facility to learn about the many ways that we and our program partners improve the quality of life for individuals and the broader community. After a brief visit to the JCC fitness and aquatics centers, the Senator walked through the Annabelle Rubinstein Early Childhood Development Center and we explained the JCC’s approach to child-driven learning and our definition of high-quality early childhood education, which goes well beyond the checkboxes and minimum requirements of any typical quality rating improvement system. Senator Casey also met with our partners from Trying Together and JCC Board members and early childhood parents Sharon Werner, Samantha Klein and Megan Nestor to hear their perspectives on the staffing crisis within the childcare industry and the need for local and national policy to help address the difference between the cost of high-quality care and the tuition families are charged.

As the Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Senator Casey was also very excited for the opportunity to learn more about AgeWell Pittsburgh, a collaboration between the JCC, Jewish Family and Community Services and the Jewish Association on Aging, and to engage in conversation with the older adult participants within the JCC’s accredited senior center. The Senator just missed an opportunity to jump in with a SilverSneakers® fitness class but he did get to hear a song performed by the JCC Choral Group as he made his way to meet with those that had gathered for the only kosher congregate meal program in the entire Pittsburgh region. The Senator also made time for a more intimate session with the Senior Center Advisory Committee where he listened to their concerns in the areas of housing, transportation and the affordability of remaining independent.                                                                        The synergy between government and non-profit organizations is a critical component of community development. Together, they can form a formidable alliance capable of creating positive, sustainable change. Government possesses the scale and resources to enact widespread change, while non-profits often bring specialized knowledge and a grassroots understanding of community needs as well as innovative and flexible approaches to problem solving around long-standing challenges. We thank Senator Casey for joining us today and have a better understanding that our collective well-being is intricately linked to the strength of our partnership with our government officials.

Jason Kunzman is the president and CEO of the  JCC of Greater Pittsburgh.

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