Soon enough, the quiet grounds of Easter Seals Camp Hemlocks in Amston will be filled with laughter and conversations from dozens of campers and counselors expected to arrive this month.
The summer program, designed for people with disabilities, offers lots of activities including boating, swimming, archery, climbing and hiking. While many of the campers love to swim, Director Jillian McCarthy says some can’t or don’t want to take advantage of the indoor pool because of the facility’s outdated pool lift.
That will all change for the 200 campers expected this summer.
McCarthy was floored when Eversource Community Relations Specialist Pat Bandzes recently surprised her with a grant to cover the cost of a brand-new pool lift.
“I’m ecstatic,” said McCarthy. “This sounds like it’s not that big of a deal, but it is to us.”
The old pool lift has a few issues: the mechanism that raises and lowers people into the pool is dated and difficult to operate, the chains on the sides of the lift are uncomfortable for campers and the netted chair doesn’t offer enough body support.
“We can’t always safely get campers who are wheel-chair bound or have other mobility issues in or out of the pool using our current lift,” said McCarthy. “Some of the campers are afraid to use it. Our current lift is difficult to use because it is outdated.”
Hebron Town Manager Andrew Tierney introduced Bandzes to the camp during an Economic Development meeting held there earlier this year. Eversource had a follow-up meeting to discuss ways they could provide assistance— everything from energy audits and grants, to volunteer days.
“We appreciate Eversource stepping in to help,” said Tierney.
“I have to say, sincerely, that one thing I’m most proud of about Eversource is our commitment to serving the neighborhoods where we work and live,” said Bandzes. “This new pool lift will enhance the camping experience for many people this summer and we’re so happy that we could be part of that.”
With the funding for the lift now in hand, McCarthy said they plan to purchase an Aqua Creek EZ Power pool lift which is battery operated with a push-button remote control. This will make it easier to raise and lower people in and out of the pool. The chair is also adjustable to fit to each person.
“I can’t wait to tell the staff and campers this exciting news,” McCarthy said.