Staff Spotlight: Natalie Chernik
Interview with Natalie Chernik, Youth, Teen, Sports & Camp Director
Natalie Chernik truly grew up at the Alpert JCC. She starting coming here in preschool at age 2 and participated in Camp Kadima until age 10. Her mom worked here as Joe Parmet’s (Executive Director from 1973 – 1998) assistant, and because Natalie would hang out after school here, Joe decided that it would be good to have an afterschool program for older kids (what is now Kids’ University). As a young teen, Natalie frequently volunteered at different events at the JCC, and she would help out serving water and coffee. When she was about 15, Susan Paletz asked if she wanted to work at summer camp. She said, “Sure!” and has been here ever since! She has taught art and science, been a CIT supervisor, worked in the after-school program, became Youth and Teen Program Coordinator, and then about four years ago, she became the Youth, Teen and Camp Director. Last summer Sports was added to her title. She is a very busy woman!
Natalie has tremendous passion for everything she does, and she is vibrant with enthusiasm as she explains that what she really loves about working here is that “the staff truly care about the kids. We all work here because we truly want to work here. No one is in it for the money. It’s easy to see that everyone from the Executive Director to the KU counselors to the maintenance team really loves what the JCC stands for.
“The JCC has been a second home to me. It has such a strong community feel. And it has always been welcoming. I like to give that back to the kids at camp so they can have the same experience. Starting with the Kindergartners from the very first summer I worked here, many of them have worked here, they’ve gone to college, and gone on to work in the world. They come back and tell me that being a part of camp has been invaluable for them. And previous campers keep coming back to say hi to me, to see other campers, and to check on staff. I love getting feedback that I have had a positive influence on their lives and that camp always felt like home for them in the same way that Camp Komaroff and the JCC is home for me.”