Faces of the J, Membership

Connecting Across Community

Denise Ipock is a “connector.” She loves figuring out what people need and connecting them to exceptional resources and programs. It’s part of why she finds joy in her job as the SJCC Membership Coordinator.

“People join the J for a reason, and I always try to deepen their connection by letting them know everything that we have to offer,” she said. This might be letting preschool parents know about weekly Tot Shabbat or encouraging seniors who joined for our AquaFit class to check out upcoming films.

Denise is an active part of the J community too, which helps her build connections with our members. Her grandkids attend holiday events and swim lessons, and she can often be seen at an Urban Hike or cooking class. “I’m honest when I tout our programs,” she said. “I think they’re great!”

Before coming to the J in 2021, Denise worked in membership and fitness departments at JCCs in Houston and Omaha. She loves getting to know the members and building personal relationships with them. “I want each person to feel welcomed and valued,” she said.

New member Felix Lau noticed that extra welcoming step when he and his wife, Jenny, joined the J recently. “The staff, from the front desk to the coaches, are very nice and helpful.  We’re very impressed when we’re greeted by name when we arrive,” he said. “We look forward to coming to the J every week.”

Like most membership-based organizations, membership numbers dipped down at the height of the COVID pandemic. As people get more comfortable returning to the building, membership is steadily rebounding, and people are happy to be back together, Denise said.  “I think people value the feeling of community even more now.”

Bitty Rauch, who’s lived on Mercer Island for 40 years and had been a member in the past, rejoined the J last year after her gym closed. She met with Denise to get reacquainted with the facility, and knew she’d found a place to fit her needs. “The equipment is wonderful, the people are nice and helpful, it just feels like home there,” she said. “We’re really lucky to have this on Mercer Island.”

Denise is looking forward to introducing even more people to the J during a Membership Open House on Sunday, September 18. “People may have heard of the J, but a lot of folks don’t realize we have the largest fitness center on Mercer Island or that we have amazing swim lessons and a fabulous arts and culture program—I’m excited to showcase everything we offer.”

At the Open House, guests can take a tour, swim in the pool, sample a fitness class, and more. Plus, we’ll have fun activities for kids, including holiday crafts, apple and honey tasting, and mini shofar-kazoo lessons.

If you’re considering joining the J—or you’re already a member and want to learn more—we hope you’ll stop by and let Denise help you build new connections with the SJCC community.