By Andrea Kronzek As part of the Centennial Capital Campaign to build the JCC of tomorrow, we are making a major upgrade to the early childhood education center, including renovation of the preschool and transitional kindergarten classrooms and the Bender-Dosik Parenting Center. Our goal is to create a state-of-the-art early childhood facility that reflects and supports the excellent programming we offer. The Center is deeply grateful to the Bender Foundation for recently making a generous gift to establish the Sondra and Howard Bender Early Childhood Center. In making the gift, Julie Bender Silver says that her family chose to establish the Sondra and Howard Bender Early Childhood Center to honor their parents and memorialize their mother, who died in 2012. “Recognizing that values are developed in the early years, our parents believed in the importance of early childhood education, supporting the community, and a living center which embodies Jewish values and culture. This early childhood center will help parents and their children to learn together, socialize, connect and find support from professionals, other parents and community members.” The Bender family’s personal relationship to the Center dates back to the 1940s when, as a teen living in Washington D.C., Sondra would take a bus across town to get to the JCC (then located in Washington, D.C.) to meet other Jewish teens. That link has spanned four generations and continues today with Julie’s granddaughter taking swimming lessons at the Center. During these four generations, virtually every member of Julie’s immediate and extended family has been active at the Center in some capacity, including attending preschool and camp, working out in the health & fitness center, participating in the JCC Maccabi Games, and taking enrichment classes. But the Bender family’s involvement reaches beyond just participating in classes and activities at the Center. “From our earliest days, we learned from our parents what giving back to our community looked like, and this encouraged us to participate and support the JCCGW. It was important to them and became important to us as we grew older,” Julie reflects. In 1989, Julie co-founded, with Toni Goodman, the Bender-Dosik Parenting Center (named for Julie’s grandparents) with seed money and a matching grant provided by the Bender Foundation and approved by Sondra Bender, then president of the Bender Foundation. Together with the community matching the funds, this first of its kind parenting center was created. With a mission to provide young families with support and guidance to help assure the stability, growth and enrichment of future generations, the parenting center today remains a popular gathering place for expecting parents, new parents, young families, caretakers and grandparents, and is an important entry point to family life with Jewish values and culture at its core. The Bender family has also assured that we can welcome and include children of all abilities by establishing an endowment fund, the Stanley S. Bender Special Needs Inclusion Program at Camp JCC. This fund helps provide vital ongoing support to enable children with special needs to have a fun-filled summer alongside their typically-developing peers in our nationally-recognized camp inclusion program. “It is so extraordinary to witness what the JCCGW does for children with special needs and their parents,” Julie states. The family’s commitment to the Center is evident not only through their financial contributions, but also through the sharing of their time and skills. Julie and her brother David each have served on the board for more than 20 years and are currently on the council of advisors. Julie’s sister Barbara has volunteered as a coach for the JCC Maccabi dance team and remains involved. Along with her husband David, Julie has chaired many events held to raise critically-needed funds for the Center and those we serve. “The Bender family has had an immeasurable impact on the Center and the community through their volunteer and philanthropic leadership,” says CEO Michael Feinstein. “Naming the early childhood center for Sondra and Howard will create a lasting legacy for generations of young families and children yet to come.” Through their past support of the JCCGW and by making this generous gift to establish the Sondra and Howard Bender Early Childhood Center, the Bender family helps to ensure that the JCCGW is Here for Life for future generations, as it has been for their family for more than 70 years. “We hope to pass on to others our love of the JCCGW and the importance of supporting it and actively participating,” Julie states. “It truly is the Center of our community!” If you are interested in learning more about supporting the Centennial Capital Campaign and helping us to build the JCC of tomorrow, please contact Adam Tennen at 301.348.3815 or atennen@jccgw.org, or visit www.jccgw.org/newJ.]]>