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Worcester JCC’s Gala Nets Record $50,000 for Youth Scholarships

From left, Susan Ritz, gala co-chair; Andrea Sullivan, JCC development director; and Wendy Wong, gala co-chair.

WORCESTER – The Worcester JCC’s Annual Gala to benefit its Youth Scholarship program raised $50,000, which will be used to help hundreds of youths attend summer camp, early education and youth sports programs.

“The gala raised a record amount this year, thanks to wonderful support from community members and businesses across the region,” said Emily Rosenbaum, executive director of the Worcester JCC.

With a goal of $70,000, the JCC is looking to foundations, companies and individuals to meet the needs of hundreds of deserving children and families throughout the community.

“We still have more to go to reach our goal,” Rosenbaum said, “but thanks to the 260 people who crowded into Mechanics Hall, we’re on track to be able to provide critical assistance this year to hundreds of children in need so they can attend and benefit from our programs. We are very grateful to everyone who came together to make the event a smashing success.”

From left, Howard Stempler, Emily Holdstein and JCC Board President George Pins celebrate at the JCC Gala.

The gala also honored Emily Holdstein, who retired at the end of 2017, for her 17 years of service to the community as the JCC’s executive director.

Sarah Connell, a past JCC scholarship recipient, recounted how her life was impacted by the annual JCC scholarships her family received. The first scholarship at age five enabled her to take swimming lessons at the J which sparked a passion for swimming that led her to win the JCC championships when she was in high school and to a scholarship for all four years of college.

“I owe a lot to the JCC for my athletic success. Not only did I excel at swimming, it helped me secure a scholarship to Fordham University. But what I don’t say enough is that the JCC also gave me the cultural capital to be successful in college,” explained Connell. “It wasn’t just the art on the walls, learning to swim, sail, or play tennis – I benefited from the kindness of the families and community at the JCC. I always had a ride home, and a place to be if my dad was working nights.

Past scholarship recipient Sarah Connell thanks JCC members and scholarship donors at the Gala.

And thanks to one JCC family in this room, he and I always had someplace to go every holiday. Now I’m a teacher and a writer, and grateful every day for the help and support I received. So thank you to everyone who has donated to the scholarship fund – it will make a huge difference for many little girls and boys.”

For more information about how to contribute to the JCC Youth Scholarship fund, email Andrea Sullivan at

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