Waterfront: February 2007 - Giving A Swimmer A Lift; Building Community, And A Good Reputation.

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Giving A Swimmer A Lift

Aquatic Access, a Louisville, Ky., manufacturer of water-powered pool lifts, did its part last summer to help a recently paralyzed mother of two use a family swimming pool.

Hendersonville, Tenn., resident Amy Hawkins was injured in April of 2006 as a tornado ripped through her small community outside Nashville. Her home was destroyed, and as the family sought protection in the basement, she covered her children's bodies with her own, allowing them to escape with minor injuries, but leaving her paralyzed from the waist down.

After being released from the hospital in July, Hawkins came home to an empty lot where her home once stood, while her friends and neighbors circulated a petition to bring the family's misfortune to the attention of a popular ABC program. With over 50,000 signatures collected, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition visited the family on July 29 and began work on a new home, which included a accessible pool and spa combination in the backyard.

The Hawkins' family pool is actually the third time Aquatic Access has worked with Extreme Makeover. In 2004, the company built a custom lift for a man in Ventura, Calif., who had been injured in a car accident, and in December of the same year, designed and built a lift for a young woman suffering from Krabbe's disease, a rare degenerative disorder of the central and peripheral nervous systems. 

Building Community, And A Good Reputation

Dealers go the extra mile to give back

Many pool and spa business owners donate money to charitable organizations and thereby improve the communities they live in. Some go a step further, donating time and money, even organizing fundraising events. One such company, Arnold's Pools in Myrtle Beach, S.C., has organized a customer-appreciation golf tournament for the past six years. In the first year, the dealer raised $2,500 for a cancer organization based in Charleston, says Deborah Bailey, the company controller. But a couple of years later, the dealer switched to donating funds to a charity in its own county, "and, boy, did it take off after that," says Bailey. Last summer, via the tournament and a 350-gift raffle held the same day, Arnold's Pools raised $18,000 for the Grand Strand Miracle League, a national organization that helps create baseball fields for children with disabilities throughout the United States, including one in Horry County, home of Arnold's Pools.

"We just want everyone to know that we're about more than just pools," says Bailey. "We're trying to bring the community together to help everyone." While the dealer's goal is to help the Grand Strand Miracle League, Bailey says the event does generate positive PR for the company. "Local newspapers and TV stations cover the tournament, and some reporters even participate."

Over on the Pacific Coast, Alice Cunningham, co-owner of Olympic Hot Tub Company in Seattle, has been busy improving her community, as well. Instead of simply sending a check to the Washington Women's Foundation, she serves on the foundation's environmental grants committee and spends many hours using her skills as a former federal administrator for antipoverty programs to determine which groups will get grants. In addition, she not only donated to EarthCorps, an international organization dedicated to building global community through local environmental service, she also worked alongside EarthCorp volunteers to kill invasive ivy in the area.

Cunningham says she has learned a lot by getting involved, and that it's particularly thrilling to see the work that EarthCorp does. "They bring people in from all over the world to learn about trail maintenance and habitat maintenance," she says.

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