SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Jewish Community Center has established the Marjorie Epstein Smith Fund for Leadership Development which will honor the life and legacy of Margie Smith, the first female president of the JCC. Smith passed away in December, at age 61, after a brief illness.
“Nobody was more hands on in the building every day than Margie,” said Betsy Bertuzzi, a past president of the JCC. “She held a bar that none of us will ever attain, but will hopefully serve to inspire others to try. She knew each and every staff member on a level most presidents don’t come near, and she was there with her sleeves rolled up, ready to work, every day.”
Bertuzzi said that she hopes that this fund will enable staff, board members and lay leaders at the J to participate in professional development opportunities that will further the success of the Jewish Community Center.
Smith’s love of the Springfield JCC began as a 3-year-old camper at Y Country Day Camp (which is now the JCC Day Camp), in 1962. She then continued up the ranks through counselor, then office staff, through high school graduation in 1978, the same year she won the Center’s Paul Smith Award for outstanding teen leadership. She and her husband, Don, sent their children, Alex and Danny, to the camps, preschool, swim team, basketball, soccer and Maccabi, while Smith fully immersed herself into the fabric and leadership of the J, eventually becoming the Center’s first female president in 1999.
“Margie was a fierce advocate for the JCC,” said former JCC Executive Director Michael Paysnick. “From working in the JCC’s front office as a teen to leading the preschool committee; from tackling the operational challenges of hosting the JCC Maccabi Games to studying the potential for a new adult program department and so much more, Margie was often called upon to take on important projects because of her extensive leadership skills. She served as a role model and mentor to so many young women and men who volunteered at the J. Her legacy will be long lasting.”
“Margie was amazing, a true leader, problem solver, editor, and a great support for the JCC and the whole community,” said Amy Kimball, former JCC Camp Director. “As the first female JCC president, she was a huge role model!”
“Margie was one of the brightest, most efficient, hard working leaders we’ve ever had at the JCC,” added friend and former JCC Executive Director Mark Dindas. “She never said no. Whenever I needed her for anything, Margie was there. Her loyalty and her attention to detail were unsurpassed. Whatever she was asked to do, she did it with proficiency and excellence.”
To contribute to the Marjorie Smith Memorial Fund for Leadership Development, contact the Springfield JCC at (413) 739-4715, or visit the JCC website at SpringfieldJCC.org. Checks can be mailed to the JCC, 1160 Dickinson Street, Springfield, MA 01108.
Main Photo: Margie Smith, left, with good friend Betsy Bertuzi, after receiving a plaque in 2018 in recognition of her work on the JCC board.