Volunteer Spotlight: Tel Hai’s Precious Pool Monitors!

2015.2.12 Pool MonitorsPool Monitors are resident volunteers who give their time to safeguard individuals who use the pool. Our monitors go to the pool to work for us! Some of the friends and neighbors you will see sitting at the poolside monitor’s table are interviewed here.

These folks share some common characteristics, which include the love of water and water sports, the love of exercise and wellbeing, the love of friends and friendship, and the love of Tel Hai and its staff and residents. For sharing and caring and being willing to accept added responsibility for the wellbeing of their friends and neighbors, we thank all of our pool monitors and we highlight them in our ‘Volunteer Spotlight.’

When asked about the training needed to become a pool monitor, Tel Hai Wellness employee Gwynne explains that she meets with a prospective monitor and spends about a half hour going over emergency procedures, general safety guidelines, what to look for. “The biggest thing” Gwynne adds, “is that without them, the pool would have VERY limited hours. Although there are times when their shift is quiet, their presence provides options. “She adds the monitors are helpful to those who need it – especially those with walkers or access issues. And they are great socializers helping orient folks new to Tel Hai.”  Wellness employee Judy adds, “Many years ago, we only opened with a lifeguard on duty and the hours were very limited. This has really opened up our ability to program.”

Catherine Cattell tells us she became a monitor when Judy asked her to, and she has been a pool monitor for four years. She has always been a very active person and used pools in other locations prior to moving to Tel Hai explaining, “It helps with my arthritis.” If she has time to get in the water herself she finds water walking to be most beneficial. She admits that she was a little intimidated at first thinking about the daunting task of potentially having to save someone’s life! Luckily, she adds, “I haven’t had to do that.” She enjoys getting to know so many residents and becoming friendly with people she might not see otherwise.

Skip Emery has been a pool monitor for two years. When asked what he likes about monitoring at the pool, Skip tells us, “I find the best part is the water volleyball! Our grandson came to visit one day while I was monitoring for water volleyball, and he was asked to play volleyball with the residents.  Unsure about wanting to play with all the old people, he hesitated but went ahead and had a really great time.” That led to a challenge because his grandson insisted, “It’s harder than it looks!”  Skip started playing, and now he is having some of the fun.

Jack Burmeister started monitoring to help his friend Rod Muthard, and now he has been monitoring for four years. Jack tells us, “The best part of monitoring is watching other people enjoy the valuable exercise.” In between swimmers, Jack likes to run the machine that cleans the pool. He tells us he has always been a clean freak. Jack really enjoys volleyball especially when a visiting group comes to play. Both the Twin Valley Honor Society and the swim team have come to challenge us to a game, and they are so full of energy it makes for a really good game. It’s so refreshing to be with them. Ever the tease, Jack tells us, “The work is a lot of fun, but the pay isn’t that good….”

Mimsie Brookes started monitoring in 2007 shortly after she moved here with her husband, Dan. She explains that she always liked swimming and water sports. Having grown up around swimming pools, Mimsie just likes the feeling she gets when spending time around pools and all the fun they provide. She tells us, she and Dan had an in ground pool at the home they lived in before moving here. She enjoys watching others enjoy the activities and finds it fun just to be around the folks who love the water. Mimsie adds, “An added bonus of monitoring is simply watching friends and passersby who pause to knock on the window to share a friendly greeting and say hello.”

Rich Toscano used to swim at the Y, but he has been a monitor here for one year. He tells us he has been around water his entire life whether swimming or lifeguarding. He enjoys volunteering during the quiet hour when the endurance swimmers come to do the serious laps. He can relax in the peace and quiet of monitoring while folks swim or relax in the hot tub.

Joan Nauta started volunteering as a pool monitor even before she moved here. For more than four years, she’s been a monitor enjoying the warmth of the pool environment. Originally from Pennsylvania, Joan moved to Florida only to return back to begin living at Tel Hai. Joan loves to linger in the warmth because it gives her a feeling of Florida. She tells us, “I always loved the pool and became a life guard when I was 40. I was a physical therapist assistant and enjoyed taking patients into the pool.”

Lin Williams has also been monitoring for four years. While still too young to become a resident, she started volunteering after having her physical therapist suggest water exercises to continue her therapy. She has been hooked ever since. Lin and her husband, Bob, are residents now, and she emphasizes the benefit she received from water exercise, telling us how much it helped her through her therapeutic process to be in the pool. She tells us she would like to see more therapists to utilize the pool and have the residents reap the benefits.

Robin LaDrew also has been a monitor for more than four years. A member of a local Masters swim team, Robin used to teach swimming lessons. She tells us, “I just simply love the water!” Robin adds that whether she’s playing or monitoring water volleyball, being by the pool simply melts her troubles away. There are so many fun and relaxing activities to do in the pool, and Robin loves them all!

Sandy Schoeninger has been a pool monitor for three years. She tells us she just loves the pool and has been in and around pools a lot during her lifetime. She likes exercising and finds water activities to be a great form of exercise. Her friends helped motivate her to become a pool monitor. Because many of the monitors were her friends, she realized they could monitor for each other and have the pool be open longer hours! Sandy knew she wasn’t going to move to a community without a pool and decided our pool was an important reason to come Tel Hai. She started volunteering because it fit her schedule so comfortably.

Bob Klumpp became a pool monitor about four years ago, and he started monitoring simply because he was asked. Bob tells us, “Every Tuesday and Thursday the residents get together for a friendly game of water volleyball, and I get the fun job of watching them one day a week.”

Dave Paton has been a pool monitor for five years. He has always loved swimming and enjoyed obtaining the swimming lifesaving certificate in high school. Dave enjoys the monitoring, but his enjoyment is not limited to monitoring because he also really enjoys participating.  He joins the water volleyball games with the residents and staff, and tells us, “Monitoring the pool just doesn’t seem like work. It’s so enjoyable.”

Margaret Ionni has been a monitor for five years, and she likes the pool. She wishes more people would utilize the area more often, especially for physical therapy needs because there is such potential benefit in water exercise. She also adds, “The pool was one of the main reasons I became a resident here, and I wouldn’t have gone to a place that didn’t have such a nice pool!”

Herb Horikawa has been monitoring for about a year and a half. His initial interest in volunteering in the pool was so he could swim and decided monitoring was just a good. He enjoys being able to help people by monitoring while they enjoy the water. When asked what his favorite part of monitoring was he simply replied, “Nothing in particular. But my least favorite part is Thursdays.” He continued with a grin that, “Water volleyball is on Thursdays. It’s fun to watch, but I do a lot of walking around to get the ball!”

All the pool monitors agreed that being helpful at the pool is rewarding, energizing, and fun, and working with employees Gwynne and Judy is an added pleasure. They love the flexible hours and socializing and agree it is one of the best volunteer opportunities available here at Tel Hai. For giving their time to pool safety and for caring about our general wellbeing while exercising or enjoying water activities in the swimming pool, we thank all of our monitors and we highlight them in our ‘Volunteer Spotlight!’


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