Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

June 10, 2014

‘Pool Lady’ returns for summer swimming

VALDOSTA — With summer underway and temperatures creeping into the mid 90s most days, it’s that time of year when children are wanting to find ways to cool off.

Gwen Register-Thomas, better known as the “Pool Lady,” works again to make summer fun a reality for area children.

At the Mildred Hunter Community Center, children can swim in the pool, as long as they can afford the cost. For the second year in a row, Thomas is taking donations to cover the cost for those children who cannot afford to swim at the center.

Last year, Thomas received an outpouring of love and donations from across the region in response to an article in The Times. She collected $650 in donations, allowing every child to enjoy not only a day at the pool but a season pass allowing them to swim the entire summer.

Crying tears of joy, Thomas explained, “There was just an outpouring as a result of the article. All of the children were able to get in the pool. And not only that, but at the end of the season, I ended up being able to buy back-to-school supplies for some of the children as well.”

Thomas knows first-hand the importance of having something fun to do during the summer.

“It’s just so important. As a school teacher, at the first of the year all of the students are asked the same question, ‘What did you do this summer?’ If the children can’t say that they went to Daytona Beach or Wild Adventures, then at least they can say they went to the swimming pool and had fun.”

By allowing these children to use the swimming pool and keeping them off of the streets, Thomas believes she protects them from possible dangers.

“I’m doing what God has put on my heart. If they are at the swimming pool, then that drug dealer on the corner can’t get to them,” she said.

Tickets to swim at the center are $1 a day, or $7 for the whole summer. Children are encouraged to meet Thomas at the center, 2 p.m. Wednesdays and do water aerobics. Children meet at the Fry Street Pool located directly beside the Mildred Hunter Community Center, 509 S. Fry St.

In addition to swimming, the YMCA offers swimming lessons on Fridays and Saturdays at the center. The cost for swim lessons are $20.

Anyone interested in donating to help children swim this summer, can send donations to Gwen Register-Thomas, P.O. Box 5664, Valdosta, Ga. 31603; or they can take their donations to the Mildred Hunter Center. Just let the attendant in the center know what the donation is for and it will be kept for distribution. Specify on your donation whether you would like it to be used for swimming passes or swimming lessons. Donations are not tax deductible.

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