Monday, July 19, 2004

Swim club saved by fish out of water


Finneytown native lacked pool skills

By Janet Wetzel
Enquirer contributor

When the call went out in 2000 for a volunteer to save a burned out, washed up neighborhood swim club, Jerri Green gave it some serious thought ... for about 10 seconds.

"I can do it," she decided.

[img]
Hometown Hero Jerri Green at work at the Brentwood Swim Club in Finneytown.
(Gary Landers photo)
Green, a Finneytown native known for her willingness to help, had no swimming pool expertise or business training. But she had desire to do something special for the community that rallied around her and her husband, Kevin, when their daughter, Eileen, 11, died in 1995 after lifelong heart problems.

She began a campaign to save the Brentwood Swim Club, and she still works year-round, five to 15 hours daily during the summer, to keep it afloat. Last year, Green, a Girl Scout leader 15 years, put in extra hours to conduct a summer-long program at the pool for a small troop of underprivileged girls.

She also helps out weekly in a volunteer-run program called Family Involvement Center at Cottonwood Elementary School in Finneytown. Its goal is to help parents be more involved with their children's education, and to form a partnership in education among parents, students and educators, she said. She does all this while working at her regular job of educational assistant in Cottonwood's special education department.

Julie Sponzilli said every community needs a Jerri Green.

"She never turns anyone away, and is always willing to help others," Sponzilli said. "She's the heart and soul of the swim club. She makes people want to volunteer, because she does so much for everyone."

While others give her the credit, Green insists the outpouring of community support saved the club.

"I started out making a bunch of calls, sending out letters, begging, pleading for help," she said. "It took a whole lot of people to do this. I was just the motivator. Now we have to work hard to keep it going."

Memberships are essential to pay bills, but to keep it open to the community, guests may swim for $3 per child, $5 for adults. If a child has no money, "I'll make provisions. I can't stand to see a little child looking in on a hot day," Green said.

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Do you know a Hometown Hero - someone in your community dedicated to making it a better place to live and helping others? E-mail Janet Wetzel at jjwetzel@siscom.net or fax to 513-755-4150.




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