Friends of the J

Throughout The J you can see the happy faces of people positively impacted by the generous support of our community! You can also see the continued need for a Community Center that is safe and welcoming for all.

Your support provides scholarships and discounts to individuals who need it most!

You are going to read two amazing stories from Athena and Arzu. The J was here for them when they needed help, and your continued support ensures individuals from different financial backgrounds can transform their lives.

Meet Athena


Athena Atkins was at a precarious point in her life. When her daughter Ariyah was born, her partner rejected fatherhood and made them the victims of domestic violence. Athena had left behind stability in another city to be with him and attend The University of Arizona in Tucson. Without a support network to turn to, Athena found herself moving into a domestic abuse shelter with her infant, where they lived for months while Athena struggled to get on her feet and continue as a full-time student at the UA.

As a recipient of the Single Mom Scholar scholarship, Athena was referred to the Tucson J by her scholarship advisor at Interfaith Community Services. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we were able to offer a financial aid package that made it possible for Ariyah to attend our Early Childhood Education program. Having a safe and stimulating place for Ariyah during the work day helped give Athena the tools she needed to stabilize her situation:

“I can do it [my degree] because no matter what, Ariyah is getting a great education from the amazing individuals who work here at the J.”

Not only does Athena appreciate the value of having trustworthy childcare at a critical time, but she truly values the high quality of the play-based education her little girl gets at the Tucson J.

“She’s getting stimulus I can’t provide at home. And at this age, that’s what you want for them, because their minds are little sponges. It has been life changing for us.


Meet Arzu and Her Family


Arzu attended Camp J for two weeks this summer, and quickly became known for her sunny disposition and friendly demeanor. Arzu’s family is originally from a suburb of Kabul, but her parents have been seeking refuge around the world since the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan 35 years ago. They lived in Iran and in Turkey before seeking asylum in the United States in order to get better therapy and care for Arzu’s twin brother, who has a disability.

The family experienced anti-refugee sentiment in other places, and one of Arzu’s sisters has a scar from where she was hit by a thrown rock. Fortunately, however, they have found a welcoming community in Tucson, including a strong bond with their neighbors Tamara and Gil, who have been helping the family get settled in Tucson.

Arzu has become very good friends with Tamara’s eight-year-old daughter, Mila, and the girls enjoy doing all kinds of things together, including attending Camp J, thanks to a J scholarship and a generous member’s gift that covered the cost of Arzu’s camp experience. When asked about camp, Arzu said (in English, which she has been acquiring quickly):

“It’s so cool! That’s all I can say!”

Arzu hopes to attend Camp J next year, and she wants to be here for the Maccabiah Games: she loves the team spirit, the cheers, and the competition. She also loves the gym, the playground, the pool, and—most of all—the friends she made.

J Life Magazine
Annual Report 2018
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Tucson JCC
Tucson JCC
As we close out another fun-filled, amazing week here at the J, we are wishing you all a beautiful weekend! May you have some time to disconnect from the week and reconnect with what really matters in your life. Shabbat Shalom!
Tucson JCC
Tucson JCC
Do you want to learn to dance like this? You can do it with us! Tango levels 1 and 2 are now enrolling, with drop-in options available. More info here: http://bit.ly/32pvGDn
Tucson JCC
Argentine tango. "Gallo Ciego". Fernando Gracia and Sol Cerquides with "Solo Tango" orquesta. Танго.
Argentine tango "Gallo Ciego" (Agustín Bardi, Osvaldo Pugliese version). Dance Fernando Gracia and Sol Cerquides. The world champions of tango Fernando and S...
Tucson JCC
Tucson JCC
The 2020 Tucson International Jewish Film Festival is just around the corner! We're working hard on updating our website with details, but in the meantime we wanted to share a trailer for the much anticipated film, "The Mamboniks", which will screen on Jan 5 in Saddlebrooke and on Jan 10 at the J.
Tucson JCC
Tucson JCC
Tucson JCC
The good, the better, the best: Our benchmarking survey is live and we want to hear from you! Help us serve you better by completing a brief 10-minute survey here: http://ow.ly/q2ra50x1TaS
Tucson JCC
Tucson JCC
It's getting cold outside and you know what that means: It's Hot Chocolate Time! Join us for our 2nd annual Hanukkah Hot Chocolate fun run/walk on December 5th. 1/5/10K routes are available. Registration is open now: http://bit.ly/2pFzov7
Tucson JCC
Tucson JCC
A note from our awesome member, Vicki Velasco: "I started my journey at the Tucson JCC last May. I was 62, weighed almost 300 pounds and knew I had to do something to get healthy. I started small – mostly at the pool with my granddaughter! Last September I decided to work with a trainer, checked out the information sheets for three trainers and was fortunate to start working with Rhina Gerhauser.

"Rhina talked with me about my goals and helped me get going with twice-weekly 30 minute workouts. My second small step! I started feeling better, but was still only working out when I saw Rhina. In May of this year I went to the doctor and had a bit of a “wake-up call.” I was told if I didn’t make some changes, my only recourse for losing weight would be weight-loss surgery.

"The 100 Day Challenge at the JCC started the next week and I was all-in! I asked Rhina to measure me at the beginning and I committed to getting into the J each work day. Rhina measured me at the end of the challenge and I had lost 12.5”!

"Because I was coming regularly to the J, I started getting to know people and was amazed at the community I was discovering. So many people were encouraging and commented on my progress. I also started taking classes in addition to doing cardio and personal training. While I have a long journey ahead to reach my health and weight loss goals, I am well on my way, thanks to being at the J!

"I am excited to explore new opportunities like cooking and dance classes and the film festival as part of the new Passport program. Joining the JCC was just a beginning – being a part of the JCC community keeps me going!"
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