Mary Baum has been working at the Jewish Community Center for more than 30 years, and the organization chose this one time to ignore her request.

"I told them not to do anything for me," said Baum, 64, of Spring Garden Township. "But they didn't listen to me."

The center, at 2000 Hollywood Drive in the township, will hold a gathering from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday on the Gan Teva Playscape, the playground behind the center.

The event is a celebration for Baum, who is retiring as the center's membership director Thursday, said Bill Walter, JCC's program director.

"This place is built on integrity, a place of growth, and she's a part of that," Walter said. "She created a foundation for us to grow on."

A staff member who worked under Baum will assume her position, he said.

Her roles: Baum started working at the JCC in September 1980 as a part-time early childhood teacher. Over the years, she also served as the center's early childhood camp director, youth director, pre-school director, pre-school art director.

Baum created the center's art department that served thousands of participants;

helped with the design and implementation of the playground; was part of the development of the successful pre-school curriculum/standards; and adopted customer service standards resulting in center membership growth, according to Walter.

"One thing that separated Mary from the (other staff members) is the vast variety of jobs that she not only accepted but excelled in," Walter said. "She met and exceeded the JCC expectations."

Family connections: Baum said she has loved the JCC from her youth, when her parents taught swimming lessons at the center. Baum said she learned to swim at the JCC.

"I'm not Jewish, but I was always part of the JCC," she said. "It's always been an important part of my life."

Baum said her son, Andrew Baum, worked at the center's front desk during his high school days.

She said her daughter, Jennifer Stough, was a JCC pre-schooler and also served as a center camp counselor as a high school student.

Baum said she enjoys seeing former pre-school students who have become JCC members and now bring their families to the center.

After 30-plus years working with the Jewish Community Center, Baum said she will miss every part of the organization, especially her co-workers.

"They are very intelligent, creative people," she said. "The JCC appreciate their members and their staff and recognize staff as the number one resource they have."

Retiring will give her an opportunity to spend time with her four grandchildren and do a variety of hobbies, Baum said.

"I don't plan on being bored," she said. "I loved my work, but now I'll have more time to do other things I enjoy in life."

--Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at