Thursday, March 13, 2014

Marcus Jewish Community Center raises $6.8 Million looking to top off at $7.5 Million

The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta could adopt the song “Old Friends” by Simon & Garfunkel as its soundtrack.  It is the “old friends” who have come together once again to raise $6.8 million of the Center’s $7.5 million campaign since November 2012 to reinvest in the 52-acre facility that serves about 55,000 individuals a year.

Ron Brill
Ron Brill

Ron Brill, the former chief financial officer for The Home Depot Inc. who is chairing the campaign, expects to raise the remaining $700,000 by the end of August.

There are many familiar names when one looks at the major donors who have contributed more than $500,000 to the campaign, including the foundations of Home Depot’s co-founders — Arthur Blank and Bernie Marcus; as well as the Ron and Lisa Brill Charitable Trust. Two other family donors — Marlene and Abe Besser, and Lynne and Howard Halpern — also contributed at least $500,000 to the campaign.

Several other longtime Atlanta names also are listed as major donors — the Zaban Family Foundation, Barbara and Sanford Orkin, Joan and Stanley Srochi, the Kuniansky family, and Sherry and Harry Maziar, among many others.

“Seven years ago, the Center had financial problems,” said Brill, elaborating that the organization was $12 million in debt. “A committee of us went to Bernie [Marcus], and he said: ‘Set up a governance committee, and these are the people who I want on it. And I will do a matching gift.’ So we had a deficit reduction campaign.”

Brill said that in the past seven years, the governance committee — many of whom who were part of Marcus’ circle of “old friends” and colleagues — reduced operating expenses, reduced costs, increased services and revenues — helping the Center operate in the black ever since. The debt is now down to a manageable $1.9 million.

The Center also hired Gail Luxenberg two years ago to be its CEO to continue managing its myriad of programs and services while keeping a close eye on the Center’s fiscal health.

Luxenberg said the Center is being used at the highest rate in its 104-year history — serving every population group from infants to seniors and every one in between. About 80 percent to 85 percent of the people that it serves are of Jewish heritage.

The decision to launch the capital campaign was made because during the lean years; Brill said the Center was forced to defer maintenance of several of its physical facilities. The funds being raised through the campaign will go toward renovating and enhancing the Dunwoody Zaban Park campus, such as enclosing and weatherizing its cabins; and enhancing its overnight summer camp — Camp Barney Medintz — in Cleveland, Ga.

In addition to bringing many old friends together, the campaign is somewhat of a family affair. The capital campaign director is Staci Brill, who is Ron and Lisa Brill’s daughter-in-law.

“Our kids went to pre-school here,” Brill said, smiling. “And our grandkids go to pre-school here.”

H/T - Saporta Report is daily must read.

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