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Are All Community Centres Created The Same? IAC Visits the CJCC

The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.

Coretta Scott King

Community Centres can – and often do – play a role of pulling entire communities together.  For some, these centres are the key to feeling integrated into society.  They provide a gathering place for the elderly.  A meeting place for the lonely.  A socializing space for the residentially confined.  An array of physical fitness activities for the agile.  In some rare instances you might find a Centre where the staff and volunteers even remember your name!  These types of places make you feel like you could find a home there; they are rare finds.

I recently had opportunity to visit the Calgary Jewish Community Centre (CJCC) in Calgary’s southwest to view a public exhibition.  I was welcomed at the reception desk by the Client Relationship Manager, Zain.  When I indicated what I was there for he attempted to contact a fellow staff member who would show me to the exhibition.  Unable to raise his colleague on the phone we got chatting to pass the time.  It turned out he, like myself, was an immigrant from South Africa.  Our conversation flowed easily and with great familiarity.  It wasn’t long before I felt like Zain could’ve been my neighbour from a distant life in my Cape Town days!

With great eagerness he introduced me to Nessie, the Seniors Manager, who happened to pass by and is also an ex-South African.  It wasn’t long before I felt like a long-lost friend of hers, too.  Zain waited patiently while this unsuspecting CJCC guest, who had merely come to see a low-key public exhibition, suddenly became the object of numerous bypassing staff’s friendliness.  Within half an hour of my unobtrusive arrival at reception I had met and engaged with four key staff members and I’d still not managed to properly visit the exhibition which, by this time, seemed to have become coincidental to my visit.

For some people, near anonymity and blending in to the grey blur of society’s busyness is important.  But arguably to most, significance, self-worth, or at least a sense of belonging is paramount.  If the latter describes you and you’re seeking out a place to find this in a community setting you would do well to consider visiting the Calgary Jewish Community Centre!

Dispelling some misconceptions

For many, the name might imply exclusivity or restricted admission to a facility that has a list of pre-requisites and criteria.  You could not be more wrong.  Let me dispel a few mistaken pre-conceived ideas about the CJCC from the get-go.

Firstly, you do not need to be a follower of the Jewish faith nor have any Hebrew or Israeli-related associations.

Secondly, you do not need to be elderly and want to only play bingo.

Thirdly, you do not need to only eat kosher food.

Fourthly, you do not need to be a resident of a nearby southwest neighbourhood.

Fifthly, you do not need to be ultra-wealthy.

However, let me share with you a few things that you should know.

What’s on offer

As a member of the CJCC you will need to be prepared to become known and liked, even if you are different.

You will become part of a vibrant community and Centre that welcomes people from all walks of life.

You will see and encounter numerous retired folks who are loved, cared for and respected as key members of the community, many of whom may live in the adjacent retirement facility.

Elderly! The forgotten golds of the past; the ignored tired souls of the society! This world has many shames and one of the worst is this: Treating the elderly as the nonperson!

Mehmet Murat ildan

With an abundant selection of additional services offered by the Centre, here is a more detailed summary of the offerings that you can discover and enjoy.

Exercise and Wellness:

  • Full gymnasium including six basketball hoops, indoor soccer, indoor hockey, badminton, volleyball, rock climbing wall (specialized program)
  • “The Doctrine” exclusive indoor cycling studio (15 slots) operated by a 3rd party
  • Lower gym (“fit factory”)
  • Upper gym (conventional gym with exercise bikes, treadmills, free weights, circuit machines, etc.) with access to up to eight instructors
  • Studio X: for pilates-, yoga-, boot camp-classes, etc.
  • Aquatics: indoor 25-m five-lane salt water heated pool, varying levels of Aquafit programs, kids swim classes, family swim time, jacuzzi, steam room, sauna
  • Tennis courts (outdoor)
  • Kids yoga classes
  • Personal training options (additional charges may apply)
  • Three change rooms: family, male, female
  • Locker rental facilities
  • Drop-in passes: $14.70/day or $126/10-pass
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Multi-functional gymnasium complete with a climbing wall
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The lower floor “Fit Factory” (1)
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The lower floor “Fit Factory” (2)
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The upper level conventional gym
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Examples and descriptions of some of the Studio X classes on offer
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The Aquatic Centre
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Modern washrooms with locker facilities

Juniors:

  • Daycare facilities
  • McDonalds-type children’s play area
  • After-school programs
  • Children’s classrooms (x3)
  • Holiday camp programs
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The McDonalds-type play zone

Seniors:

  • Seniors’ lounge and activities
  • Residence accommodating in excess of 200 seniors
  • Veteran’s Memorial Wall
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Catering to the seniors and those with restricted mobility

Health support:

  • Alberta Health Services offering a healthy living program
  • Parkinson’s Disease management program

Services and Events:

  • Vibrant Arts and Culture drop-in events that celebrate Jewish heritage and community activities that can be enjoyed by all
  • Karen’s Café – the only kosher restaurant café in Calgary and is sole service-provider for any catering functions held at the Centre
  • Friday morning freshly-baked Challah bread available to the public on a first-come-first-served basis
  • Access to reserving meeting rooms and the auditorium, complete with a stage for functions
  • Chapel that can double up as a meeting room (note that no religion is practiced in the Centre)
  • Lounging facilities and TV in the reception area
  • Free Wi-Fi
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The dedicated arts and culture department is a very active component of the Centre
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Karen’s Cafe – Calgary’s only Kosher Cafe

If I lived any closer to the southwest I would certainly be considering membership at this home-away-from-home facility.

What do you look for as a primary attraction in a Community Centre?

This article is purely a voluntary publication issued by “I Am Calgary” and has not been, in any way, sponsored by the CJCC.

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