The main entrance to the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael.
The main entrance to the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael.

Marin JCC: pools open, awaiting county’s next signal

JCCs Face the Future: Part of a series on how Jewish community centers in the Bay Area are coping with the financial strain of the coronavirus pandemic.

The recent warm Bay Area weather has brought more people out of their homes and into the San Rafael-based Osher Marin JCC, which on June 15 opened its outdoor pools — a first step toward increasing daily operations.

The JCC’s adult and tot swimming pools are averaging between 90 and 100 users per day, according to CEO Judy Wolff-Bolton. Before Covid-19, it used to be closer to 400, she said.

While waiting for more restrictions to be lifted, the JCC is planning to move some fitness center equipment outside so people can work out safely. And it is developing plans for a fall opening of early childhood education programming, including setting up smaller classes and potentially converting spaces to allow for social distancing.

While soft reopenings of some JCC programs offer a glimmer of hope, there are substantial challenges ahead.

Marin County’s health department is still not allowing the opening of indoor fitness facilities, which for the JCC represents a large chunk of revenue; 43 percent, to be exact, according to Wolff-Bolton.

A clearer picture will emerge in the next few weeks, she said, on how big a revenue hit the JCC will take and whether it will necessitate layoffs.

Before Covid-19, the JCC employed more than 300 people. In late March, Wolff-Bolton furloughed 75 percent of the staff.

This fiscal year’s budget was $13 million, and Wolff-Bolton said she and her team are still assessing the next budget. The organization serves about 3,000 households.

Like other JCCs, Osher Marin has received federal money and private donations. The Paycheck Protection Program injected $1.47 million into the organization. An additional $500,000 loan from the Small Business Administration helped further, as did a Jewish Community Federation grant of $175,000.

Wolff-Bolton says during these tough times she’s been thinking about ways to increase the JCC’s reach, describing her organization’s virtual events and programs as “extremely promising,” with attendance averaging 70 to 80 people per session.

“We’re looking at this whole scenario,” she said, “how to be adaptable, nimble and deepen our impact. That’s what I think is the name of the game.”

Gabriel Greschler

Gabriel Greschler is a staff writer at J. You can reach him at gabriel@jweekly.com and follow him on Twitter @ggreschler.