FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: RACHEL OSSMAN, CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
SEVEN-FIGURE NAMING GIFT ANNOUNCED FOR CAMP JCC IN ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND
February 21, 2022
The Bender JCC of Greater Washington’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce a generous legacy gift from Dr. Stuart Lessans to name Camp JCC, a Jewish summer camp that serves 500 campers of all abilities and backgrounds in the Greater Washington area. Twenty percent of camp participants attend each summer with a known and diagnosed disability ranging from mild to severe. While it costs three times more to provide necessary support such as staff training, adaptive equipment, lift-equipped buses, and a dedicated counselor, all inclusion participants pay the same tuition as other participants.
Camp JCC serves campers from Jewish and non-Jewish families and across all races and ethnicities. Thousands of campers have been impacted by Camp JCC over the 52 years it has been in operation. Beginning in 2021, our program expanded to include campers from the Edlavitch DCJCC, creating a lasting partnership.“Camp JCC is a wonderful showplace of how the Bender JCC cares for all kids, regardless of background. It fills me with pride in my Jewish identity and what we do to help others, especially at a time when so much misinformation is being spread,” said Stuart.
The camp will be known as Lessans Camp JCC beginning with the 2022 camp season. The naming gift to Camp JCC will be used to support the long-term financial sustainability of camp and will allow the camp to continue investing in staff recruitment and retention, innovative programming, and facility enhancements to expand its offerings.
Josh Bender, CEO of the Bender JCC, commented, “Stuart’s unbelievable generosity to support Camp JCC is a reflection of his deep commitment to Jewish community and continuity. He understands the critical role that Camp JCC plays in the Greater Washington area in creating memorable summer camp experiences for children and young adults of all backgrounds and abilities.”
As Stuart began to think of his legacy, he realized Camp JCC makes a far-reaching, powerful, and lasting impact on so many in our community. Camp JCC’s reputation as a leader in inclusion is one of the factors that compelled Stuart to support it. It is often referred to as “the land of yes,” owing to the fact that for campers with disabilities, there is no question as to whether they can participate in every activity; the only consideration is what accommodations are needed to make that happen.
Plans are underway to celebrate the dedication this summer in conjunction with Stuart’s 80th birthday. In naming the camp, Stuart is gratified in knowing how many lives will be touched. “I want Faye and Matthew [his children] to know how important philanthropy is to me, and how strongly I feel about Jewish identity.
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The Bender JCC of Greater Washington embraces and welcomes the diversity of our community and encourages everyone to seek meaning and fulfillment by participating in our rich programming inspired by our Jewish heritage. We open our doors to everyone, including people of all backgrounds, religions, abilities and sexual orientations, and interfaith couples and families. Learn more at benderjccgw.org.