Smiles as Caringa pool opens
PAUL McKenzie and Janeen Booth have worked unpaid for just on three years hoping only to receive ‘one beautiful smile’ as reward.
Yesterday they got that reward many times over as a new purpose-built swimming pool was officially opened at the site of the disability services provider Caringa in Grafton yesterday.
There were beaming smiles on everyone who jumped in.
It was just over three years ago that then Caringa board member and now mayor Richie Williamson was told the former pool was ‘buggered’ and it would cost $100,000 to fix.
The non-profit organisation simply did not have the money to replace it.
But Caringa worker Paul McKenzie said he thought he could get it done cheaper and set about fund-raising.
He came to The Daily Examiner and was photographed next to a green, contaminated and cracked pool and called on the community to help.
On reading the story, the recently retired Janeen put up her hand to help out and together she and Paul got enough support to get the $50,000 project completed.
Yesterday, Paul said 90 per cent of the work on the pool had been voluntary and included people giving up their nights and weekends to get it done.
“It has been just fantastic,” he said.
He said his young son gave $1.60 – all the pocket money he had – because ‘they needed it more than me’.
It was that support that got the project finished.
“You have no idea how much this means to the kids here,” he said.
Janeen said there had been ‘some incredibly kind and generous people’ who had helped get the project to completion.
Cr Williamson said what Janeen and Paul had achieved for a group of special children was ‘just amazing’.
He said there would be millions of smiles over the years as the pool was used more and more.
The last word should go to one of those for whom the pool was built.
Eighteen-year-old Wayne Smith was grinning from ear to ear as he waited for the ribbon to be cut and the chance to jump in.
“This is the best,” she said.
“I dive in and can go right to the bottom.”