Our Donors - Why They Do It - Gayle Temkin

I was in search of a needle in a haystack. I was on a quest to find a preschool that could support my daughter Alyssa, who was born with a rare genetic disease which dictated that she remain in a safe cocoon where I could test her blood sugar and feed her every 90 minutes. When I found the Mandell JCC Early Childhood Center (ECC), I knew I had found more. I had found our second home.

Then Directors Rhonda Wirth and Pam Powell, went above and beyond to accommodate us - helping Alyssa cope with separation issues and finding a space for me to spend the day between feedings. Along with David Jacobs, Annie Keith and Alyssa’s wonderful teachers, the entire staff treated Alyssa with respect and dignity. Just like all of the children enrolled at the ECC.

This is what the staff at the JCC does. This is who they are. It made me never want to leave.

When my second daughter, Lily, arrived we spent countless hours in the Family Room where I could escape from some of my daily challenges. I made new friends and spent lots of quality time with David, because even as a youngster, Alyssa realized what a truly special person he was.

Although we had a long round trip from our home in Torrington to West Hartford, which included pit stops on Avon Mountain to feed Alyssa, I never thought twice about going to the JCC daily. Over the next 5 years, school morphed into activities which turned into volunteering on committees. I soon found myself on a leadership path in the local community, and connecting to people and possibilities I never dreamt were possible.

The JCC is like the hub of the wheel -with its arms extending into every corner of our community. And they certainly have opened those arms to my family. I have been involved with many organizations, but the JCC is unique. Everyone feels connected and welcome. There are no judgements. The JCC embodies the very idea of community.

When you feel so deeply connected to something, you have to show your support in any capacity you can. I want to demonstrate that I believe in the JCC and that they are making a true difference. And I want my kids to witness that, too.

We enthusiastically endowed The Family Room during the Aim Chai campaign, and Alyssa’s Angel Fund launched the Big Wheel Derby fundraiser, hosted by the JCC but without any direct benefit for them. My girls participate in theater programs and Alyssa is the Teen Representative for the Board of Directors.

I want my children to know that everyone is capable of philanthropy in some form. I want to reinforce that the JCC is our home. Afterall, we found that elusive needle right here.

Gayle Temkin
Chairman of the Board


Gayle’s daughters, Lily and Alyssa, have been engaged in JCC schools and activities from a young age.