Making a Difference
Ronald I. McRae
Ronald I. McRae is living proof that one small decision can impact the entire trajectory of one’s life. At 20 years old in 2002, he accepted a Camp Chai counselor position at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta’s former Shirley Blumenthal Park. He never expected that a summer job would subsequently pave his career path, spark a friendship that blossomed into love, provide him rewarding opportunities that would be profoundly influential, or immerse him in the warmth of an inclusive community.
“I was embraced by the JCC from my initial introduction and felt such a strong sense of belonging and family,” Ronald explains. Over the years, he took on roles in various departments at the MJCCA, working for MJCCA Day Camps, Club J, Athletics, and The Weinstein School. Even after being furloughed during the pandemic lockdown, Ronald continued to volunteer at the MJCCA as a coach. He is beloved by the athletes he coached and has mentored thousands of kids over the years.
“My goal has always been to be a positive influence and provide a positive experience for others at the JCC,” Ronald reveals. “Having the responsibility of influencing young people is not something I take lightly. I went from a mindset of ‘going to work’ to ‘making a difference’ and ‘influencing a change.’ That makes you look at everything you do in a different light. I try to instill the motivation to be people of character, to do everything with passion and purpose, and to learn something new every day.”
Ronald feels a special connection to the flag football teams he has led to represent Team Atlanta in the last six JCC Maccabi Games®. While some had won medals and two had played in Championship games, Ronald’s teams had never landed the gold. During the 2022 JCC Maccabi Games in San Diego, the team was determined to win it all. “We started [the tournament] with one win and three losses, yet they still kept saying ‘gold or bust,’” Ronald recalls. “The team went on an amazing run in the playoffs and beat the fourth, second, and then first seeds to capture the gold. Winning that gold medal was truly the realization of a dream and goal and a feeling I will never forget.”
His tenure with the MJCCA led him to his current employer and fostered many important friendships, including his now-girlfriend. “The relationships I’ve formed with my athletes, their parents, and co-workers have all enriched my life as well as opened doors for professional development,” Ronald shares. “I am a better businessman and a more complete person due to the lessons that I learned through my years with the MJCCA. It has impacted my life profoundly and has a special place in my heart. I enjoy giving back to a place that has given and taught me so much.”
I was embraced by the MJCCA from my initial introduction and felt such a strong sense of belonging and family.Ronald I. McRae