One Community Center’s Virtual Approach to COVID-19

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CLEVELAND, Ohio – In the past, community centers have been a gathering place and the hub of activity for many families and neighborhoods.  With our new normal due to the stay-at-home orders implemented to combat COVID-19, community centers have had to come up with new and novel ways to keep their communities invested and active.  The Mandel Jewish Community Center in Beachwood, Ohio knew that they had their work cut out for them.

JCC Preston Hope playground

Fitness Director Kate Toohig knows how much the community relies on her and her team and said she is determined to keep the community together in a fun and interesting fashion.

“We realized our community is huge and our members rely on us, and we knew if we didn’t provide for them it would be a huge loss, so we immediately started rallying up volunteers to come up with the best options,” she said. 

New ideas for Interaction

These options included the departments of the community center creating Facebook live videos. This way both children and adults are still able to interact with familiar faces from the safety of their homes. But interactions were just one of the reasons for creating the videos. 

“The mental aspect of this is so important; people are confined to their homes and our hope with these videos is to get people up and moving, trying to make things seem more normal,” she said. “It’s a proven fact that even small activities put people in a better mood.”

April 13th virtual camp schedule

To keep a sense of community for all members, the JCC created different platforms for members to try new things from the safety of their homes. This includes virtual campfires on Zoom allowing young members to stay in touch with friends. For older members, workout classes and cooking classes are offered. Zoom chats for preschool students allow them to interact with children their age and give parents an extra activity for their children. JCC’s goal was to allow members of all ages to try new things during a difficult time. 

Weekly Activity Updates

The community center uploads a new schedule of activities every week. This way members can see what times work for them and which activities they want to participate in. Along with virtual activities, the JCC is also providing meals to families. 

The Mandel Jewish Community Center in Beachwood, Ohio

“We still know the community is struggling so we are continuing our hot meal program so we can still provide for families who are in need, this is a hard time for everyone,” Toohig said.

The Mandel Jewish Community center will continue to provide virtual activities until the stay-at-home order is lifted. For now, the main goal is to keep working with members to provide comfort during hard times and keep their strong sense of community.