(Published July 29, 2019)
Life can change in an instant, and often when you least expect it. The Halston and Jameson families know this firsthand. Thanks to the scholarship program at the J, these two families and others like them are able to hold on to a sense of normalcy as they adjust to their shifting realities.
The Halston Family*
Jen Halston has been a member of the J for 15 years, through many ups and downs. She began working out in the Mordoh Fitness Center when she was single, then continued alongside husband Patrick when they got married. When their son Matt came along, the J became somewhere he could spend time (in afterschool care, at CampJCC, and at the Eskenazi Water Park), and when Jen’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the family brought her to the J to work out so she could stay healthy as long as possible. The Halstons’ savings were already depleted from taking care of Jen’s mother when Jen lost her job, and a couple weeks later Patrick was in a bad accident and went on disability, where he has been for the past few months. Suddenly, the family’s income dropped to less than one-eighth of what it was just six months ago. With Patrick unable to work or fully take care of Matt, the responsibility of keeping the family afloat has fallen entirely on Jen’s shoulders. Maintaining a membership at the J is a reassurance that, though other parts of the Halstons’ life have fallen down around them, Matt still has a place to go where he can be active and involved. A JCC scholarship has helped the Halstons keep that consistency while relieving some of their financial pressure. “It’s a safe harbor,” Jen said. “The J has helped us take care of the older generation, ourselves, and the younger generation.”
The Jameson Family*
The Jameson family’s 5-year membership at the J has centered around children Haley and Connor’s participation in the ECE program and expanded to include activities like youth soccer, gymnastics and dance. Mom Megan calls the J “a vital part of our lives.” So when dad Wyatt broke his ankle, an injury that required multiple surgeries and rendered him unable to work for a number of months (his job entails climbing ladders and being on rooftops), the Jamesons applied for and received a J scholarship that allowed them to keep their children in the programs they were attending, rather than uproot their lives completely. “It was a tremendous relief financially as well as emotionally due to all the other stresses going on with the situation,” Megan said. The family has made numerous friendships throughout their time at the J, from other kids in their classes to parents and even teachers, so being able to depend on that stability and having one less source of upheaval was much appreciated. For Megan, the J’s impact has been immeasurable. “We really love the JCC and all that it stands for in the community,” she said. “I feel it has given my children so many wonderful experiences, ranging from educational to social and recreational.”
The JCC Family
Angie, a JCC employee, pays hundreds of dollars each month for medication for her boys, who both have ADHD. A CampJCC scholarship both offset some of Angie’s financial burdens and gave her peace of mind in knowing that, after a rough school year, her boys were nearby, safe, having tons of fun and making wonderful friends. Angie noted that even if she didn’t work at the J, she would still be a member because of the environment. “The facility is beautiful, and there is no judgment against me and my family because we live a different lifestyle (gay and not Jewish),” she said. When they’re at the J, Angie, her sons and her fiancée can be the best versions of themselves.
How You Can Help
The week of August 19, the J is launching a crowdfunding campaign called Hand in Hand to help grow the scholarship fund. Your gift directly helps families like the Halstons, the Jamesons, Angie’s family, and others who are immigrants, single parents, have experienced homelessness, or are otherwise struggling. A $60 donation pays for: • One child to attend five group swim lessons • One CampJCC or School’s Out day • One month of membership for a single adult or senior couple All donations up to $30,000 total will be matched, so your gift will be doubled! To make your gift, visit JCCindy.org/hand-in-hand.
*Names have been changed