Our Donors - Why They Do It

WSFB-TV anchor and Mandell JCC Board member Dennis House was first introduced to the J in 2007 when he and his wife Kara Sundlun, also a WFSB-TV anchor, registered their daughter Helena in some JCC classes and swim lessons before enrolling her in the preschool.

“Kara and I heard so many wonderful things about the J being a great place for families. Some 13 years later, the center has exceeded all expectations.”

The House-Sundlun family are fixtures at the J, with Dennis working out daily in the fitness center or playing racquetball before joining his son Julian on the basketball court. Kara, who also works out at the J, hosts the annual Adults with Special Needs fashion show.

“The JCC has been a huge part of our lives for years. We are here for exercise, sports, events, cultural connections and so much more. We watched our kids grow up here. We just love it here.”

They have also been at the JCC for some of life’s most special moments. “Our son Julian took his first steps and walked for the first time on February 14, 2011 in a class called, ‘Jump, Wiggle and Squiggle.’”

As two of the most recognizable faces in the community, countless organizations would be incredibly grateful to have the support of Dennis and Kara. So, why the JCC?

“We simply couldn’t live without it! The JCC is home to us. I have met some of my best friends here, some who have become like brothers to me. It doesn’t get more special than that.”

Dennis also acknowledges the work the J does as a driving factor in his support of the agency: “The J does exceptional work in the community, always striving to bring together people of all ages, races and religious backgrounds. At a time that is so divisive, the J’s mission to be inclusive is more important than ever.”

Dennis believes in the JCC so much, he recently joined Executive Director David Jacobs on the ‘Experience We-Ha’ podcast to share all the JCC has to offer: “There is no better community fitness facility in the Metro Hartford area, but it is so much more than just a place to work out. Where else can you spend hours working out, shooting hoops, swimming, watching a show and grabbing a bite to eat all in the same day? We don’t feel like we’re just a member to them; they treat us and everyone who walks through their doors like family.”


Dennis and his wife, Kara Sundlun, daughter Helena and son Julian at the Adults with Special Needs Fashion Show, 2019.

Mandell JCC Board Member Dennis House