JCC Suncoast Announces New Initiatives: Four years into its five-year strategic plan, JCC Suncoast continues to offer a diverse range of programming at synagogues, schools, assisted and senior living residences and other facilities throughout Pinellas County.
According to Ellen Katzman, JCC's executive director, there's no central building to absorb resources and distort priorities. "I like to say we're a community center with many walls," says Katzman. "We exist throughout the community—wherever the need is greatest. Our emphasis is not about a physical structure. It's about being flexible and adapting to constantly changing community needs."
In 2008, leaders from the Jewish Community Center of Pinellas County and the Golda Meir/Kent Jewish Center created a strategic plan that combined the efforts of both organizations into one entity, ending a competition for many of the same resources.
"This competitive situation reflected a broader geographic and social divide in the community that began in the 1950s and 1960s before urban sprawl connected the communities," said Todd Siegel, president of JCC Suncoast's board of directors. "Today's local Jewish community is evolving beyond this social division of the north and south segments of the county."
In 2011, JCC Suncoast was introduced to brand a single Jewish community center through one organizational strategy.
"Our vision is to provide exceptional programs that enrich lives throughout all of Pinellas County," Siegel said. "It was a monumental transition — an evolution that retained the best of our rich tradition while incorporating a modern-day business model. I'm happy to say it's taking root nicely."
Katzman notes that recent breakthroughs have given the organization a strong foundation for expansion. They include winning a bid to run the aftercare program at the new Ben Gamla Charter School, the acquisition of Temple B'nai Israel's Early Childhood Center, the establishment of adult and senior wellness programs at Clearwater's assisted living residence, Inn on the Pond, and the county's first FitWall fitness training studio on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg.
"Not being a free-standing JCC could be seen as a challenge," Katzman said. "But we don't see it that way. It's been a tremendous period of rebirth and rejuvenation. The bottom line is that, today, JCC Suncoast defines itself through collaboration and community partnerships—and not through a building. It's been a big push and it's taken some . . . hard work but the JCC has re-engineered itself to be a dynamic force and sustainable for our future."
A pet haven: Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming has opened its newest store at 2516-A McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater.
The business provides one-stop-shopping for all pet care needs including healthy, natural pet foods, treats and grooming services.
Safety Harbor resident Starlet Smith, owner of Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming's Clearwater franchise, is passionate about becoming a local resource for all things pet-related. A pet parent to a Jack–Rat mix named Chloe and a beagle named Max, Smith is committed to supporting local pet shelters and animal adoption groups.
"I have always been involved with animals in fostering and volunteering," Smith said. "All animals, especially dogs, have had a special place in my heart. Opening this store is a lifelong dream of mine to work with animals in this way."
Special order requests are welcome and delivery service to local homes, resorts and businesses is available. A customer loyalty program, pet-friendly events, "yappy" hours and adoptions are offered. The store is happy to host pet parties and meet-up groups.
Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming has 26 locations operating throughout the United States.
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