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Once slated for closure, historic Good Shepherd pool now making waves –

Several years ago, the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd pool was nearly drained. But a push for new membership and other key changes to pool management have helped the 90-year-old neighborhood amenity stay afloat.
“A few years back the Good Shepherd Pool came a short way from being closed, despite the fact that it has served the community for so many years,” said Alina Martinez, parish administrator at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd. Early Jacksonville philanthropist Ninah Cummer sponsored the construction of the pool to be a place of community recreation. “Since then we have come a long way and the circumstances are improving continuously.”
Martinez referenced the appointment of Dave Cullen as the church’s new pool director and the joint effort of pool members, volunteers and church staff.
“Each person involved is gifted with various skills – some mechanical, some organizational, some have good business sense and some have the financial means — but they all have the willingness to support this unique ministry,” Martinez said. “When combined, all these attributes and mind make for a great result.”
The church made other improvements that have helped attract new users to the pool.
Cullen said the turnaround has resulted from aggressive follow ups on requests for new memberships and pursuing renewals from previous and existing members – coupled with getting to know members individually and accommodating special needs.
“The heart of good salesmanship is sincerity and a determination to deliver and continuously improve,” he said.
The church also has adjusted water temperatures to a slightly warmer 81-83-degree range that has helped make the waters more comfortable for younger children and toddlers, water therapy clients and older swimmers. Lockers also were converted to day use so members can utilize them during their visits. In addition, swim coach Kerry Wick gifted the pool with new lane markers and another pool member offered a $4,500 grant for the installation of a handicapped chair lift. The lift is expected to be installed this fall.
More improvements are upcoming. A local Eagle Scout candidate is planning a makeover for the church pool locker room. Church leaders also are evaluating the possibility of installing solar panels on the rooftop to heat the pool – perhaps also supplying electricity for the entire parish, Cullen said.
“The dramatic turnaround in the pool and the parish in general can be attributed to the insightful and dynamic leadership of our new vicar, Father Jeff Reichmann, whose uncanny ability to spot talent led to the hiring of a new and equally dynamic pool director, Dave Callen,” said Matt Wolfe, chairman of the church’s pool committee.
This fall, the pool will enjoy a wave of new activity with the arrival of a competitive swim team. The Piranha Swimming team meets three days a week at 7 p.m. (See page 26 of this issue)

By Susanna P. Barton
Resident Community News

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