Breaking ground on the Staenberg Family Recreation Center

On Tuesday evening, Jewish Community Center leaders broke ground Tuesday on the 32,000-square-foot Staenberg Family Recreation Center.

The J has received a $3 million-dollar gift from Michael Staenberg for substantial additions and upgrades to the facility.  $1.2 million of that gift is a matching gift, meant to encourage other local individuals to join him in his support of The J. Staenberg, a former Kansas Citian noted that, while our J remains first-rate, the time has come for remodeling and enhancements. Some of these needs had already been identified by J management and lay leaders, and immediate freshening is now underway.

“A lot of people say you can never go home, but I’m back and I really feel Kansas City is my second home," Staenberg said.

Michael’s philanthropy follows his heart. His support of Jewish Community Centers is a result of the passion he feels about the role they play in the community and he is in hopes that many others in the Kansas City community follow his passion and support this new exciting chapter in the Kansas City J’s journey. Staenberg stated, “I have been asked on more than one occasion why I am interested in investing so much time, money, and passion to support campaigns to renovate Jewish Community Centers. The easy answer is that I believe that JCC’s have the potential to make the greatest impact in our communities. Now and for many years to come.”

“Giving to give, not to get,” inspired Michael Staenberg, as with other projects undertaken by Staenberg, his family and their Foundation. The concept of offering advice, and funding, to help enhance and freshen Jewish Community Centers around the United States is a direct example of this philosophy.

A majority of the 274,000 people who visit Overland Park's Jewish Community Center annually aren’t Jewish. The J’s President & CEO, Jim Sluyter said while that’s helped create a better sense of community, they’ve simply run out of space. “We’re going to be able to accommodate so many more individuals in all of our programming a lot of our programming is maxed out from our day camps to our sports and recreation programs," Sluyter said.

Plans for the $11.5 million expansion include a new entrance, gymnasium, indoor turf field, renovated youth fitness Zone and yoga, dance, and art studios, as well as a splash pad.

Long time supporter of The J, Scott Slabotsky added, “Stay tuned, because truly exciting changes are on the way, to make what is already a great Member experience even better.”

Here is live footage from the event and pictures will follow so check back at

J Campaign Staff