South Bay JCC selected to launch program for veterans

The Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center in Los Gatos has been selected as one of only six JCCs nationally to pilot Project Welcome Home.

An initiative of the JCC Association, the program is designed to educate JCC staff and volunteers on how to better assist U.S. service men and women and their families.

The project — which ultimately aims to help veterans ease their way back into their communities — will be steered by the JWB Jewish Chaplains Council. Training sessions that included input from the Department of Veterans Affairs and a presentation by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America began May 7 and 8 in New York City.

“Project Welcome Home is a chance for the JCC to express our appreciation to those who served this country, and to support returning veterans and their families as they transition home after deployment,” Rabbi James Greene, the Addison-Penzak JCC’s program director, said in a press release. “It is an embodiment of our most important values. It is our chance to say thank you. We hope that through PWH, the JCC will become a hub for recent veterans seeking community.”

Also selected to pilot the program are JCCs in Northern Virginia; San Antonio, Texas; Columbia, S.C.; Chicago; and Denver.

The APJCC has agreed to offer membership incentives to returning veterans and their family members, ranging from free or reduced membership to discounts on early childhood programs and day camp. They also will create programming in conjunction with the initiative, including some that will highlight the service of Jewish men and women in the military.

“We feel it’s important to participate in this program because we need to honor our veterans,” said Nate Stein, CEO of the APJCC. “They’ve put their lives on the line for the freedom we enjoy in this country. By assisting veterans and their families, we’re fulfilling the Jewish value of tikkun olam, repairing the world.”