Season's Givings: Long Beach Group Needs Help to Run Therapeutic Pools

As part of our month-long "Season's Givings" series, KPCC's Adolfo Guzman Lopez tells about a a non-profit group called California Pools of Hope. The group has operated a therapeutic pool in North Long Beach for more than four decades and is looking for volunteers to help out.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: With Season's Givings, I'm Adolfo Guzman-Lopez Two dozen people, mostly seniors, exercise in an indoor therapeutic pool kept at about 94 degrees.

A non-profit called California Pools of Hope has operated this North Long Beach facility for more than 40 years. Executive Director Patricia Dixon describes one of the regulars.

Patricia Dixon: I know this gentleman suffered a stroke and was in a wheelchair when he came, and now you can see, he's standing, and walking, and exercising in the water by himself. When he first came he needed assistance.

Guzman-Lopez: 57-year-old Byron Kinney started using the pool about 15 years ago, when he was losing hope.

Byron Kinney: I was very sick in the hospital, for two years, with leg and back problems, and plus a lot of weight to lose.

Guzman-Lopez: He weighed 650 pounds. He had to slim down, he realized, if he wanted to live. Gyms and high-impact exercise didn't help, but someone reminded Kinney about California Pools of Hope near his old neighborhood. Once he tried moving around in the heated pool, he discovered that buoyancy made exercise possible.

Kinney: The warm water, good for my circulation. The water has minimum impact on my joints, I was able to work muscles, I was able to lose the weight.

Guzman-Lopez: Byron Kinney's lost 230 pounds. He still uses a wheelchair, but he's resolved to switch to a walker by New Year's, and to walk on his own by summertime.

California Pools of Hope serves 500 people a month. Patricia Dixon is looking for volunteers to join the board of directors and help raise money. She's also looking for certified lifeguards and other people with special skills.

Dixon: If you're a physical therapist, and you have some time that you want to help us out. Even massage therapy can work, because you can act as an aide. We have many clients that live alone, but they come to the pool, so they need assistance.

Guzman-Lopez: Volunteers might sweat a bit, she says, but they'll feel good inside.