New grants will enhance facility, wellness, and benefit youth

The Levite Jewish Community Center is excited to announce that it has recently been named the recipient of three new grants: a $60,000 GoodUse grant that will go toward energy and water conservation, a $15,000 grant from Medical Properties Trust to fund athletic scholarships for youth, and a $7,500 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama grant that will fund wellness programs.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be receiving these new funds totaling $82,500,” says Aimee Johnson, executive director at the LJCC. “We’re really feeling the positive momentum these days, especially coming on the heels of the $25,000 Daniel Foundation grant to refresh our auditorium.” 

Two men posing for a portrait, with a man in a t-shirt and "A" for Alabama cap standing in front of a man in a green polo with his arms crossed
Nobody knows The J’s facility needs better than Director of Facilities Doug Hocutt (right). He’s eager to start working with Bryant Haines, a project manager at Southface Institute.

Becoming more efficient

GoodUse helps nonprofits reduce utility costs so that organizations can instead use the savings for the programs that benefit their communities. Their matching grant will be administered by Southface Institute, an Atlanta-based nonprofit whose architects and engineers will work with LJCC staff to increase efficiencies, lower expenses, and improve indoor health. 

“It turns out that The J and the Alabama Theater have more in common with each other than just storied pasts and great missions,” Aimee says. “We also both have some of the oldest HVAC systems in the state. The savings we see from this GoodUse grant will make a hugely positive difference in how we operate and what we offer in programming.”

For the kids

The new Medical Properties Trust grant is a 50 percent increase over last year’s grant, and this year’s funds will also help children from low- to medium-income families benefit from The J’s extensive athletics offerings. 

“Last year’s MPT funds were so impactful during the pandemic,” Aimee says. “We have numerous stories about the 17 scholarship recipients who benefited from our sports programs. One of my favorites is the 5-year-old girl who had the opportunity to learn soccer after her father lost his job as a firefighter. She started the summer very shy but blossomed and became an active member of the group.

“Even without the dramatic backdrop of the pandemic, we look forward to more stories this year about our youth sports participants learning life-long skills.”

Build the yoga wall!

The main outcome of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama grant will be the addition of a yoga wall at The J. “Wall yoga is different and fun but more than just a novel trend,” Aimee explains. “The use of the wall and straps allows yogis to experience near-weightlessness as they explore postures and learn more about their bodies.” Wall yoga allows users to hold poses longer and strengthen less-used muscle groups. It is especially beneficial to people with chronic back pain.

The J will be only the second facility in Birmingham to offer wall yoga.

“With all this great news plus having summer camps in full swing and the Outdoor Pool filling up with families,” says Aimee, “you can just feel the positive energy around here as soon as you step inside The J.”