New build out of Beginnings Infant and Toddler Care Center at the Simon Family JCC

March 22, 2013

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Brandon and Paul Terkeltaub.

Brandon and Paul Terkeltaub.

Beginnings is the Simon Family JCC’s full day program for babies six weeks through 2½ years. Its youngest charges (six weeks–approximately 16 months old) have recently moved to a new, more spacious area to accommodate more babies and anticipated demand. Thanks to a generous donation and a talented muralist, Beginnings Infant and Toddler Care Center is everything a parent would want for their little one.

Brandon Terkeltaub wanted to make a gift to the Simon Family JCC through the Tidewater Jewish Foundation. He chose Beginnings because he was a “lifer” at the JCC himself. “I grew up at the JCC in Norfolk,” says the recent ODU graduate. “I went to JCC preschool and spent my summers at JCC camp.” It made sense to help build something for the very young at the Simon Family JCC, in the hopes that children grow and thrive at the JCC as he did he says.

As luck would have it, Terkeltaub’s employer matched his gift, which funded the complete build out of Beginnings this winter. There are hundreds of employers who will match employee’s monetary gifts to charitable organizations. The Tidewater Jewish Foundation encourages employees to ask their company about matching policies. “TJF can easily facilitate these gifts, as we did with Mr. Terkeltaub,” says Shelby Tudor, donor services manager of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation. “The process is simple, and the donor then has a vehicle in place to process subsequent gifts.”

In their new location, babies are separated by partitions into pre-crawlers, or “wee ones” and crawlers or “wobblers.” In the quiet sleep rooms, children nap in personalized cribs, soothed by the sound of white noise generators, and comforted with pictures of each baby’s parents. Little ones are provided with their own cubby as well as all new and clean equipment, diaper changing area, strollers, and toys.

“It’s been a great change for us,” says Tracie Guy-Decker, director of marketing and communications at the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and the Simon Family JCC, and mother of Ruthie, an 11-month-old at Beginnings. “Ruthie sleeps much better because the new sleep room is quieter. When she sleeps better here, her sleep patterns improve, and she sleeps better at night, too.”

Brightening the walls of the Infant Care area are delightful murals by Catherine Shearon, who painted faux finishes and murals in California full time, participating in art shows, designing galleries and decorating her own home with her wall creations. Since moving to Virginia as a military spouse, she has rented and can’t paint murals in her own house. “I was itching to do a mural for the JCC,” she says the mother of two young girls. Shearon donated her time to paint murals of beach scenes in the JCC babysitting area last year, to the delight of the members and staff.

Shearon was asked to use her talents again to create murals in the Infant Care space. Baby animals and Noah’s Ark now greet babies and parents each day, with colors and images that make children of all ages smile.

“My kids and I are always here,” says Shearon, who coaches a K-2nd grade basketball team at the JCC. “When we’re not in basketball, we take Brickheadz and swim classes, and I work out in the fitness center. I love the JCC, so when I heard the new Infant Care room needed brightening up, I knew I could help.”

If you haven’t stopped by Beginnings lately, a quick peek is in order. Call Becky Feld 321-2332 or email bfeld@simonfamilyj.org for a tour. The center is open from 7:30 am–6 pm Monday through Friday.

by Leslie Shroyer

Letter to the Editor