JCC dedicates aquatics center in honor of late Robert H. Spitz

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Jun. 10—The late Robert H. Spitz loved animals and cherished his Jewish heritage, and both have been central to the philanthropic efforts of the foundation established in his name.

On Thursday, the Jewish Community Center of Scranton added to his legacy with the dedication of its Robert H. Spitz Aquatics Center, marking the completion of a $1.5 million refurbishment project made possible in large part by a $1 million grant from its namesake's foundation.

"Thanks to the Robert H. Spitz Foundation, the JCC can continue to teach and promote two of life's important skills: swimming and water safety," JCC executive director Daniel Cardonick said.

The dedication and ceremonial ribbon-cutting came more than five years after the JCC substantially finished renovations to its pool, which was built in the 1950s, although there were "random issues" that had to be addressed and some work continued right up to Thursday morning, Cardonick said.

"There were still things that needed to be done," he said.

Spitz, a Scranton native and Scranton Central High School graduate who owned several local Arby's franchises, died in 2014, at age 75. His estate established the Spitz Foundation in 2015.

"One of the things he wanted to provide funds for was JCC, which he looked upon as not just a Jewish community center but a Scranton community center, where individuals of every ethnic group and religion, every interest, would have access to and the ability to use the facilities," said Jacob Nogi, one of the foundation's trustees.

Laura Ducceschi, president and CEO of the Scranton Area Community Foundation, which administers the Spitz Foundation, said Spitz had a love of the JCC, where he used the pool.

Legacy is about making an impact that is meaningful and long-lasting, she said. When done well, it will change the quality of life for others.

"This kind of philanthropy transform communities," she said.

The aquatics center renovations included replacement of all mechanical systems, along with improved lighting and cosmetic upgrades, Cardonick said. About 2,000 people use the aquatics center annually for activities ranging from swim lessons to exercise classes to recreational swimming.

Contact the writer: dsingleton@timesshamrock.com, 570-348-9132

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