The Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors, “Cummings Centre,” distinguishes itself as a true community centre of excellence and proud Jewish organization embracing its heritage and enthusiastically welcoming people of all backgrounds. As the hub of Montreal’s 50+ community, the Centre touches the lives of 10,000 people on an annual basis.
From its humble origins in a rented duplex, the Cummings Centre has transformed itself into one of Montreal’s most important agencies for the 50+ community. The Centre’s early roots began with a 1949 survey regarding Jewish seniors, conducted by the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW). The results of the survey indicated a strong need to create a senior citizens club. The Golden Age Program was then initiated by the NCJW to provide social and recreational activities for older Jewish persons. Between 1951 and 1961 Golden Age Clubs were introduced in synagogues throughout Montreal with budgets of only $75.
In the mid 1960’s the Golden Age Association (GAA), recognized and funded by then Allied Jewish Community Services (AJCS), welcomed the Jewish senior community by opening a senior centre in a duplex. Within just one year the centre became so popular and crowded that additional funding was needed to relocate to a larger space. In 1973, the Centre moved into new quarters on the second floor of the AJCS building (now Federation CJA).
With membership, programs and participation continuing to grow, the agency became a fixture of the Jewish community. In 1978 the Cummings Family generously funded the construction of a new facility, the centre’s main location at 5700 Westbury Avenue.
In the following years, the Golden Age Association experienced a series of developments thanks to generous contributions. Between 1994 and 1998, the Wellness Centre and the Craft Centre program underwent huge expansions and gradually, mini-centres and clubs opened throughout the greater Montreal area. A Drop-in Centre for Holocaust survivors was inaugurated in 1997.
In February 2000, Jewish Support Services for the Elderly (JSSE) merged with the GAA and the Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors was born. That same year it was one of only 20 organizations in the province to receive the Hommage Bénévolat-Québec prize from the Government of Quebec in recognition of the involvement, energy and generosity of its volunteers. The Centre was also present ed with the Combined Jewish Appeal Award for Community Service, an honour that recognized superior initiative and achievement in the advancement of local community service.
In 2002, the Cummings Centre underwent a major renovation project with the help of the community to the tune of $3.5 million. This expansion saw a more modern space to continue to provide innovative programs and services for Montreal’s 50+ community.
In 2004, The Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors Foundation was established to oversee all aspects of fundraising for the Centre.
In 2007, le Bel Âge was welcomed to the Centre to join an already vibrant department offering the 50+ Francophone community even more exciting programs, services and volunteer opportunities.
The Cummings Centre’s rich history is crucial to understanding just how important it is in the community, how far the agency has come, and how it will continue to grow. The Cummings Centre, a constituent Agency of FEDERATION CJA, connects people 50 years of age and older to the arts, education, health and wellness. The Agency is committed to enhancing the quality of life of the individual and promotes positive attitudes about aging. It emphasizes volunteer involvement in all aspects of Agency life.
Successful aging combines stimulation for both the mind and body. The Centre offers more than 300 programs each season specifically designed for the 50+. A varied roster of educational and stimulating courses speaks to the vibrancy of the Centre and its commitment to embracing this age demographic. Programs are designed for members to continually challenge themselves by learning, experiencing and sharing.
The Cummings Centre provides the opportunity to stay active and connected through its many volunteer opportunities. The Centre boasts a volunteer corps of 900 who are involved in all aspects of Agency life and are instrumental to the vibrancy and growth of the Centre. Volunteers play an integral role in the day-today functioning and success of the Centre. Working hand in hand with professional staff, members and clients, they find great fulfilment in their roles motivating participants through their exercise routines, planning events or using their business acumen for strategic committee work.
The newly renovated main campus building in 2014 includes a state-of-the-art wellness centre and workout facility, a fully equipped art studio, a computer tech centre, meeting rooms, cafeteria and more. Adapted programming is also available providing innovative art, fitness and social programs for individual’s recovery from surgery, with mobility problems and movement disorders including Parkinson’s disease, post-stroke and Multiple Sclerosis.
Additionally, a Social Services Department aims to enhance the quality of life of older adults and their families through the provision of a full spectrum of programs and services that support aging with dignity and maximizing independence. The Centre provides an extensive range of community social services including a mental health program, a day program for individuals with memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, kosher Meals on Wheels, homecare and transportation. The Cummings Centre also supports Montreal’s population of Holocaust Survivors which is significantly funded by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
To learn more about the many unique opportunities at the Cummings Centre call 514.342.1234 or consult our web site at cummingscentre.org/history.