Waterfront: November 2004

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Help From (And For) The Heart

Young heart patient's pool party benefits local hospitals

Everyone agrees β€” there's something about Tristan Hellmuth's smile. Whether he's swapping baseball cards or hanging out with friends, with a simple grin this 8-year-old tacitly demonstrates his compassion, sense of humor and faith. These very same attributes prompted him to throw a pool party in July to raise over $2,000 for the Children's Miracle Network of Greater St. Louis.

For Tristan, the donation hits close to home. He was born with a heart defect that, he discovered in May, is putting enough stress on his heart to prevent him from playing most sports; potentially devastating news to a typical young boy who's dreamt of becoming a professional athlete. Instead of succumbing to disappointment, with a little help from his mom, Lynn, Tristan decided to become active in a different way β€” by helping other children like himself. Having just given up swimming, a pool party seemed the best way to turn the negative into a positive.

"I was hopeful that Tristan would gain a new confidence that there was more to do than just playing sports and to find happiness in helping others and himself," says Lynn.

Almost 200 people attended the event on July 24 at the Huntington Swim Club, where Tristan holds a swim team record for the breaststroke. The pool party featured a clown, face painting, a barbecue, an inflatable playground and an ice cream truck. In the four weeks it took to organize, Tristan was largely in charge of arranging the activities and the raffle, which included baseball game tickets, autographed baseball cards, toys and movie tickets.

"I wasn't nervous to call my friends but when I went to stores to collect stuff I was nervous at first," he says. "When my mom started to help me not to shiver and make mistakes, I got over being nervous."

The Children's Miracle Network, a nonprofit organization, divides donations equally between Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, where Tristan is a patient, and St. Louis Children's Hospital. The money helps with programs, equipment and facility renovations.

"When a nurse or a doctor tells a family that their child is suffering from an illness or they need some type of work to be done, their life freezes for that very moment, and from that moment on, their life is never the same," says Gil Engler, executive director for the Children's Miracle Network. "So for a family, like this family, to take it upon themselves to want to do something else for other children is just remarkable and it inspires other families."

Lynn and Tristan both agree that this fundraiser will not be the last. In the meantime, Tristan plays goalie on a soccer team, is learning to golf and collects baseball items β€” at the pool party, Tristan received a card and bat signed by St. Louis Cardinals hall of famer Stan Musial, and a baseball signed by former major league pitcher Andy Benes. In addition, the Make-A-Wish Foundation recently decided to grant him a wish.

But for Tristan, giving is just as good as receiving.

"[The fundraiser] was good 'cause when you do something good, lots of people stand up with you," says Tristan. "It made me feel good 'cause I helped other people and I helped the doctors get smarter so they can cure the people."

And that kind of hope and compassion, as even an 8-year-old knows, is certainly worth smiling about.

Style (stil) n .

1 distinction, excellence, originality and character in any form or artistic expression 2 a ) the current, fashionable way of dressing, speaking, acting, etc. b ) something stylish; esp., a garment of current, smart design c ) a fashionable luxurious existence [to live in style] 3 distinction and elegance of manner and bearing

Searching For Inspiration.

Lee Anne White can help.

At last, an idea book that presents every category of the pool and hot tub world with the same high standards of design, creativity and β€” quite frankly β€” beauty. Within the 170 pages of The Pool Idea Book, author and photographer Lee Anne White documents water projects for every style and every budget, from extravagant to modest, selling each on its merits.

The former editor of Fine Gardening magazine, White draws on her extensive knowledge of landscape and garden design to present creative ideas while addressing practical issues such as security, storage and safety. Although the book is closely focused on pools, White also considers decking, landscaping, buildings and enclosures β€” elements that help complete the perfect outdoor room.

The book is illustrated with over 350 photographs and is divided into four sections: Pools and Spas, In and Around the Pool, Landscaping and Outdoor Rooms, and Structures. There are plenty of the expected over-the-top, high-dollar projects with waterfalls, vanishing edges and costly materials. But many of the examples are of pools that are stunning because of site decisions, landscaping or unique decking choices: good creative design with basic materials. While it's an idea book β€” not a how-to manual β€” there is enough technical information provided for homeowners to gain a realistic understanding of the pool-building process.

The pages devoted to above-ground pools show very attractive projects and the accompanying text suggests several reasons other than cost to choose an above-ground pool. It's a refreshing change from the more common depiction of above-grounds as strictly a budget choice.

What perhaps sets this book apart from the crowd, though, is White's deep understanding of landscape design. While the book doesn't get overly academic for the average reader, those with the background will appreciate her inclusion of classic Thomas Church designs that have stood the test of time.

The Pool Idea Book is one of a series of six books from Taunton that includes the Deck & Patio Idea Book and the Front Yard Idea Book.

β€” K.P.

The Pool Idea BookBy Lee Anne White The Taunton Press ISBN 1-56158-665-X

Much Ado About Mulching

Dealer's cast-offs improve environment, community.

These days, most products are shipped in cardboard boxes. Once companies remove the cardboard, some sell it to a recycler. Olympic Hot Tub Company, based in Seattle, has found an imaginative way to use its cardboard remnants to help save the environment and its community.

Three years ago, says co-owner Alice Cunningham, Olympic decided to donate its leftover cardboard pieces to EarthCorps, an urban conservation organization in the Seattle area that provides high-quality, cost-efficient environmental restoration services while creating opportunities for young adults aged 18 to 25 to learn the fundamentals of environmental restoration and community development.

The organization takes these cardboard pieces β€” nearly 144 tons a year, or 122,000 square feet (three-quarters of which is donated by Olympic) β€” and uses it to remove invasive plants, such as blackberry, through sheet mulching, says Liz Stenning, field operations director for EarthCorps.

According to Stenning, the organization works mainly in public parks, restoring streams and trails and planting native plants. Removing invasive plants without herbicides can be quite difficult however. "We're removing everything by hand, so it takes a long time to remove all the roots," Stenning says. To cut down on manual labor, the group turns to cardboard.

"We put down big sheets of cardboard (after removing any leftover staples and tape) and then put down approximately 4 to 6 inches of bark or wood chips on top," says Stenning. "What happens is whatever is underneath the cardboard, like weeds, will die, and eventually that cardboard will break down and the wood chips or bark will incorporate into the soil. But in the short term, you can plant through that cardboard."

Because so many companies sell their large sheets of cardboard to recyclers, Stenning says the organization was having a hard time finding the needed materials. (Much of the groups' other supplies, such as the wood chips or bark, come from community donations.)

"You would think it would be really easy to find cardboard, but it's really kind of challenging," she says. "It's so nice to know we can just go [to Olympic] anytime and get it. We put on a lot of volunteer events with kids and adults, and we do planting projects and restoration in inner city neighborhoods, and I would say a lot of what we do is bringing people together in the community to try to restore a particular park or space. Without those materials, it would be much more expensive β€” or we just wouldn't do it."

Cunningham agrees: "It's a win-win for us and the community. We are so pleased to be able to find a useful home for the cardboard."

To learn more about EarthCorps, visit earthcorps.org.

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