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From the Corporate World to Academics, This Boynton Beach JCC Volunteer Helps Keep ACE Program Ahead of the Curve

Barbara Arnold was a professional career woman in the field of marketing and business development for many years. So in 2010 when she lost her job due to corporate downsizing, she knew recruitment would not come easy.

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In 2010, Barbara and her husband joined the Mandel JCC Academy of Continuing Education (ACE) program in Boynton Beach, a partner agency of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County. The ACE program provides opportunities for adults to enhance and nurture their lives through classes, lectures, discussions, seminars, and special events, and ultimately make a substantive and active connection with the Jewish community of Palm Beach they otherwise wouldn’t have.

Barbara attended an open house with her husband in 2010 where she found a packed room with hundreds of Jewish seniors from the local community. Like her, they were seeking out educated, entertainment and a place to belong. After meeting Alan Egenthal, the creator and director of the ACE program, she agreed to volunteer for the upcoming silent auction with no expectations beyond helping out and potentially learning a little.

Fast forward three years, Barbara is a member of the Mandel JCC Advisory Council, the ACE Advisory Board, and Chairman of the Adult Program Committee. She heads a committee of 18 with the responsibility for managing a book festival, breakfast and Christmas Day program dubbed “Chopsticks.” Barbara plans, coordinates and helps host events, classes and activities for ACE members. With the guidance of Egenthal, Barbara focuses on subjects ranging from art, music, literature and politics to current events, women, entertainment and Judaism, always with the intent of entertaining, informing and attracting Jewish seniors from Palm Beach County.

“When I see people coming to class, with their minds working, it truly makes me happy,” Barbara said. “We help give our students a reason to get up in the morning and a place to go. They are truly enlightened and entertained thanks to our program. When our classes are not in session in the summers, our students miss it.”

And Barbara knows that feeling well. Not only has she found her role as a professional again as one of the volunteers responsible for running the ACE program, she is a faculty member and full-time student, attending several classes a week.

“I love what I do,” Barbara added. “I am so privileged to be able to give back to the Palm Beach County Jewish community since leaving the corporate world. I knew I couldn’t sit back and relax for long!”

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