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Therapy pool stays afloat

As the board of the Mittleman Jewish Community Center tried to make the center more financially stable, they cut some programs they found weren't paying for themselves.

One of those programs was the therapy pool, a 92-year tradition in Southwest and an important recuperation tool for many injured and disabled people in the neighborhood.

The pool was projected to lose $78,000 during the next fiscal year. In June, when the board announced they would have to close the pool, the users immediately began fund-raising to save it.

The therapy pool is kept at a higher temperature than most pools-about 94 degrees-which helps swimmers warm up their muscles so they can stretch, exercise and do physical therapy treatments easily. The pool is stocked with equipment like dumbbells and bars and floatation devices as well as an electric lift to lower users into the pool. It is not used for recreational or lap swimming; pool users must have a note from their doctor. The warm water therapy has been effective for many users suffering from arthritis, fibromyalgia, back pain, cerebral palsy and more.

About 100 swimmers use the pool and many dug into their pockets to help keep the pool open. They quickly raised $37,000 and continued to seek other funding sources. In mid-October, the pool users were granted $40,000 from the National Council of Jewish Women. The amount will sustain the pool for another year while the users continue to fund-raise and look at other ways the pool can become more cost-effective.

'This is an incredible gift,' said Jackie Kling, a pool user who helped helped apply for the grant. '…We will continue this work to keep the pool open.'

Pool users are investigating if there are more groups that can benefit from the pool in order to bring in more revenue. They are also seeking more grants and donations.

To contribute to the pool, please send checks to the Mittleman Jewish Community Center at 6651 S.W. Capitol Highway. Checks must indicate they are for the therapy pool fund.