Hope kept afloat for therapy pool
By Deborah Moon Seldner
article created on:
Miscommunication over the seriousness of its financial situation nearly sank the Mittleman Jewish Community Center therapy pool, but pool users rallied to create a concrete fund-raising proposal that the MJCC board unanimously approved July 10 keeping the pool afloat.
The therapy pool is a warm-water pool with lift available for therapy and exercise for people suffering ailments including arthritis, spinal cord injury, fibromyalgia and many other conditions.
Since the financial crisis that temporarily curtailed many MJCC programs two years ago, the pool had been kept open by generous donations from Dr. Ralph Weinstein and Tish Johnson and by a bequest, all of which ran out at the end of the fiscal year June 30.
On June 29, MJCC Marketing Director Lisa Horowitz told about 30-35 pool users attending what they had understood to be a pool informational meeting that the MJCC board had voted at their June board meeting to close the center's warm-water therapy pool in 60 days.
Horowitz, who is one of three MJCC staff members on an aquatics and therapy pool task force that also included a therapist and user from the therapy pool, told the users the board could not continue to operate the therapy pool with a projected $78,000 deficit in the coming fiscal year. She came equipped with information sheets on other therapy pools in Portland in the belief the users would appreciate that information.
"As a staff person, I thought we had a shared understanding of how tenuous the situation was," said Horowitz. "Clearly the users felt the situation was more stable than it actually was."
In fact, many of the therapy users expressed complete shock at the announcement. Several left the meeting in tears, said Barbara Wolf, one of the users who attributed her ability to walk without a cane after five back surgeries to her use of the pool.
Jackie Kling, a pool user who suffered mobility loss after being struck by a car, said there had been "a huge breakdown in communication. ? It was never clearly defined for users that the pool was going to be closed."
"It was quite a shock to everybody," said Pam VanderVeer, who uses the pool because she suffers from brittle bone disease. She said her husband, Joe, who has