Member Spotlight: Mina Roades
Mina Roades knew that the Alpert JCC Early Childhood Education program was perfect for her son the moment she saw the nurturing environment and wonderful playground. “When we were searching for a preschool, we saw tons, narrowed it down to three, and as soon as we took the ECE tour, we knew that nothing compares to the JCC.”
Although neither Mina or her husband are Jewish, she had friends who were at the Merage JCC, and so she Googled JCC in Long Beach. “When this is the first time you’re putting your kids in school, safety is huge, and the JCC facility is a standout. On the tour, we could see that everything about the J was quality. The classrooms were the best I had seen. Really open, with lots of room for the kids to play. As an architect, I’m sensitive to space, but anyone could see how much better this is.
“It is also a wonderfully nurturing environment, and that’s exactly what I wanted from a preschool. Learning and interaction is important, of course, but a loving environment is equally important to me, especially when they are this young.” This is Mina’s third year as an ECE mom. Her older son, Dariush, started at three and is now in Kindergarten. Her second son, Navid, just turned three and started preschool this year.
Mina has been an active parent since her first year at the J, when she was Room Mom and did cookie baking, but it wasn’t until ECE Director Linda Keiles asked her to be on the ECE Committee that she got very involved. “The ECE Committee is great for new people to get involved and meet people and actively participate. There are lots of subcommittees and lots of volunteer opportunities,” Mina explains.
Mina was particularly involved in rebuilding the playground and the garden. Being a landscape architect, these were two areas she felt she could particularly help. “It was great,” she says, “Building the planters then adding all the plants was a true group community project. We all got together, and so many parents helped out. ECE Teacher Mrs. Grayson does all the work with me, and it was all super fun. This is definitely my pet project. Now we’re trying to get trees and irrigation. Everything is volunteer-based, and that’s what is so awesome here.
“The staff and teachers are amazing. Linda and Alayna [Cosores, Assistant ECE Director] make it such a wonderful place. They really make all the difference. It’s a fantastic volunteer environment, and it’s just so much fun. I love the Shabbat singing and all those traditions. One of the things I didn’t know about but love, love, love, is the Judaism.”
Mina didn’t grow up Jewish, but she adds, “I love what the ECE teaches the kids here. It really shows you that all religions are the same. Be good to others. Be kind to a friend. It’s beautiful. Especially at this age. The kids are learning all the stories, which are the same as if I were taking them to Sunday school. It’s so nice. It’s just beautiful really.
“Discover CATCH [the AJCC’s child wellness program] is also great. My kids are coming home and saying, ‘I can’t eat more than one of those cookies.’ It’s so cute—they have this inner turmoil about eating another marshmallow. Other schools probably have gardens, but it’s really wonderful that they plant and grow and then eat their own food here and then learn about that.
“It’s a great community center, and it’s wonderful to see people of all ages together in one place—all the kids together with the seniors. I hope to find ways of staying involved when the kids are out of preschool.”
Linda Keiles has nothing but praise for Mina: “We have an incredible group of ECE parents here, and Mina is such a big part of that. She’s got a warm, almost tangible energy that makes everything she does so positive and so fun. She can mobilize other parents to jump on the bandwagon with her, whether it’s to build garden boxes, bake Chanukah cookies, or plan future programs. I’ve worked with volunteers at the AJCC for over 16 years, and Mina is definitely one of the most committed…I can’t wait to see what she does next!”