SEPTEMBER 2021 • LONGISLANDPRESS.COM 59
MID-ISLAND Y JCC
IN SERVICE TO COMMUNITY
From its humble beginnings operating out of
a house in Wantagh in 1956, the Mid-Island
Y JCC moved to its sprawling location in
Plainview in the 1970s and underwent a
major renovation, adding a state-of-the-art
swim and fitness center in 1982.
“Since then, the Mid-Island Y has become
the center of the community, offering
services for children and adults of all ages,
doing everything we possibly can to meet
the needs of the entire community,” said
Rick Lewis, chief executive officer.
That entire community ranges from early
childhood services that start at 6 weeks
old, to an annual summer day camp for
about 1,000 kids, to programs and classes
for adults and seniors of all ages, including
the occasional centenarian.
“In between that, it’s full, early childhood
programming, after-school programs and
classes, teen leadership and development
programs, and a full aquatic and fitness
center, which currently has brand new
equipment in it,” Lewis said, referring
to free weights, weight training and
endurance equipment, treadmills, spin
bicycles and more.
Funded by the UJA-Federation, the center
offers a wide array of Jewish programming.
“All of our programs are offered within the
context of Jewish culture, so we highlight
the Jewish holidays with a general
understanding and celebration,” Lewis said.
“But the building is open to people of all
backgrounds. We don’t discriminate against
anybody: Everybody’s welcome.”
Through its Rudman Family Food Pantry,
the Y JCC delivers meals to more than
400 families each week and also provides
nonperishable food packages for both
pickup and delivery.
“During the last 18 months, the need has just
increased incredibly, and the community
has been wonderful in supporting that
program,” Lewis remarked.
The Y JCC’s stellar senior outreach includes
Naturally Occurring Retirement Community
(NORC) programs, with nurses and social
workers providing services, including
food shopping, for seniors in their homes.
They also connect seniors to county, state,
or federal services, from transportation to
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
benefits – any and all services to help keep
them living comfortably in their homes.
“In many cases, it’s just that their family
or their children don’t live close enough to
provide the daily care,” Lewis explained.
These days, programs are offered both
virtually and in person. For those
uncomfortable with being in public indoor
spaces, in-person classes for all ages and an
outdoor fitness center are available in a big
tent, which will stay up year round.
The YJCC recently started a health and
wellness department which provides
exercise and recreational programs for
people with cancer, Alzheimer’s, multiple
sclerosis, or Parkinson’s disease.
“We find many times that when people
have these debilitating diseases, that they
get stuck at home. So, we get them together
through exercise programs,” Lewis said.
“And sometimes the more valuable part of
that is just the camaraderie that they develop
when they realize that there are other people
struggling with whatever the disease might
be that they have.”
One thing that sets the Y JCC apart from
other centers is its Adler Center for Special
Needs, one of the largest such programs
on Long Island, which serves more than
700 families a year with educational and
vocational opportunities, skills of daily
living, and respite.
“Sometimes the families just need a little
bit of time to themselves so they can pay
attention to their typically developing
child,” Lewis said. “We allow them to bring
their child with special needs here so they
can benefit from the recreation time and
benefit from learning while they’re here,
but at the same time, the family gets a little
bit of respite.”
Above all, the Mid-Island Y JCC is here
to serve the community, which extends to
patrons from western Nassau and Suffolk
“It’s our goal through our incredibly hardworking
staff to make sure that we continue
to meet the needs of the community,”
Lewis said. “We’re really here to serve the
community the best we possibly can.”
Y JCC staffers from left to right: Chief Program Officer Marlie Cohen, CEO Rick Lewis, Coordinator of Healthy
Adaptive Living Programs Barbara Sachs-Traina, and Facilities Director Gary Cellars.