Rich in History and Memories
If you grew up in small-town South Central Texas, chances are you have memories of beating the scalding summer heat at your local community swimming pool. For those in and around the Hallettsville area, the Lavaca Swimming Pool may have been the hot spot of choice for cooling off. Located in the middle of Hallettsville City Park, the historic swimming pool is one of the oldest in Texas. Built in 1956 and opened as a bathhouse and swimming pool, the bathhouse was funded by the Lions Club. A group local stockholders, made up of area business owners, funded the pool.
Over the pool’s deep end stood a five-foot diving board. This was facility’s main attraction at the time. Every summer, at the annual Splash Day fundraiser, bathing beauty contestants would sport their most fashionable swimwear. Pageant hopefuls, selected to represent area organizations, walked the diving board in anticipation of being crowned queen.
Financial Stress Sways Beneficial Decision
Being funded by stockholders and individual owners, the pool had only been open to private memberships. However, the annual Splash Day fundraiser and pool memberships eventually proved insufficient for keeping the facility financially self-sufficient. In 2015, with the pool having become rundown, the board of directors dissolved stockholder ownership and converted the pool into a non-profit, opening it to the public. The thought was, “Let’s open it to the public and see if we can make money, five dollars at a time.” This designation made the organization eligible for public funds and grants.
Community, Power Up and Other Grants to the Rescue
Fundraisers held in 2017 to help beautify the property, building momentum for a full renovation. When Hallettsville native and Lavaca Swimming Pool Board member Jennifer Hagan took over as pool manager in 2018, she dove headfirst into the job. Honing her grant-writing experience and realizing the facility needed major repairs and renovations, Hagan immediately set about running the pool as a business.
Six grants, totaling $250,000, including the GVEC Power Up Grant, have been awarded to the Lavaca Swimming Pool since March of 2018. This sparked a major overhaul of the facility. Leak tests were conducted, and much needed plumbing and electrical upgrades were completed. The entire pool was re-plastered, the slides and diving boards replaced, the pool deck reconstructed, bubblers installed, and a tanning ledge was added.
Perhaps the most significant upgrade, though, is the addition of an ultraviolet and ozone filtration system. This system type uses far fewer chemicals, allowing the pool to stay filled with clean water year-round, resulting in a longer swim season. The pool had always followed the standard May to September swim season. This year, the pool reopened in April. This longer season allows area schools and youth organizations to host year-end and post-season parties closer to home, instead of traveling for aquatic fun! A new pavilion is available for rental allows for parties and outdoor events.This revenue now stays local and is reinvested into facility upkeep.
Your Power Up Contributions at Work
Of the six grants Lavaca Pool received, $7,939 came from GVEC members through Power Up contributions. Your generosity funded a 70-inch screen, used for activities such as “Dive-In Movie” night, where the public can enjoy two-in-one fun: swimming while watching a family friendly movie. The screen will also used for training events and aquatic fitness programs. Hagan also purchased new floats, kickboards, volleyball and basketball nets, Styrofoam dumbbells, and safety equipment.
Additionally, your contributions aided in lifeguard training and new kids’ activities. All lifeguards are now Red Cross certified, too – a designation that’s not mandatory in Texas, but which is nonetheless of significant for enhancing safety. The 10 lifeguards also became certified swim instructors. The Lavaca Swimming Pool now offers swimming lessons, circulating proceeds back into the facility.
Community Supporting Community
The community has provided vital support in the facility’s overhaul. Though located in the center of Hallettsville City Park, Lavaca Swimming Pool has no affiliation with or regular funding through the city. Supporters have donated money through a Facebook fundraiser, and volunteers have contributed their time and talents when occasions for such help have risen. Local businesses, such as Tractor Supply and Walmart, have donated water hoses, weed killer and concession stand endowments. Hallettsville Walmart also awarded an additional grant for the purchase of an AED.
Lavaca Swimming Pool works to support the community in return. The ultraviolet and ozone filtration, for example, provides cool science and water conservation field trip opportunities to area schools. The facility also hopes to collaborate with Hallettsville’s summer recreation program to teach water safety and offer swim activities.
Hagan praised her board of directors and the many community members who’ve supported the pool. “Just by cleaning it up and doing the things we’re doing, we’ve opened up so many doors and opportunities for this facility,” she said. “And we’ve created so many opportunities for the community.”
Hagan also expressed thanks to GVEC members. “I’d like to thank GVEC and its membership for the opportunity to acquire these funds and put them to good use in service to our community. Grants like Power Up have made it possible to move forward with our renovation program and to create an inclusive facility that’s fun and welcoming to everyone. Just getting an opportunity like this is amazing, and I’m so grateful for the chance to make a difference in the lives of our community.”
More About Power Up Grants
Since Power Up began in 2012, your contributions have funded 137 grants, totaling $2,150,559.95, awarded to local non-profit organizations. Power Up grants are awarded in April and October. To view a complete list of Power Up recipients, learn more about the program or to apply, visit gvec.org.