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Archive for Thursday, April 26, 2012

‘If it wasn’t for Missi,’ beloved neighborhood pool ‘wouldn’t be open’

For 11 years, Missi Pfeifer has run the small County Fair Swim Club at Maple Lane and Clare Road. Despite the financial struggles and her full-time job as a beautician, Pfeifer is passionate about keeping the pool open for the neighborhood, just like it was when she was growing up nearby.

For 11 years, Missi Pfeifer has run the small County Fair Swim Club at Maple Lane and Clare Road. Despite the financial struggles and her full-time job as a beautician, Pfeifer is passionate about keeping the pool open for the neighborhood, just like it was when she was growing up nearby.

April 26, 2012

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Forty-two-year-old Missi Pfeifer meets me at the east Lawrence neighborhood pool that’s just across the street from her house.

Only in Lawrence: Missi Pfeifer

Meet Missi Pfeifer, who has been running the neighborhood County Fair Swim Club for 11 years. Enlarge video

It’s an unusually warm day for the first week of March. Pfeifer is wearing blue jeans and a short-sleeved black shirt and vest with slip-on shoes.

After unlocking the wire-fenced gate, she takes a seat next to me on one of the four wooden picnic tables in the deck area that’s shaded by trees, and I don’t have to ask a question. She immediately begins talking about the pool and why she’s volunteered her time, energy and money to keep it open for the past 11 years. At times, her bright blue eyes fill with tears.

How to help

The County Fair Swim Club pool in east Lawrence typically opens Memorial Day and closes Labor Day. It’s open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily and costs $2 for a day’s pass.

Missi Pfeifer, club president, estimates it costs about $14,000 annually to operate the pool.

Donations can be sent to: County Fair Swim Club, P.O. Box 976, Lawrence, KS 66044 or they can be made online at countyfairswimclub.org.

If you would like to volunteer or learn more about the pool, contact Missi Pfeifer at countyfairswimclub@gmail.com.

“It is an amazing little place,” she said. “I started swimming here probably when I was a year old. This is where I learned to swim.”

She said her mother, Charlotte Hastings, operated the pool about 35 years ago for five years. Pfeifer, her twin brother and her sister spent all day, every day at the pool during the summer. They also made lifelong friends.

“This is where we grew up,” she says. “I love it. I love it more than anything and I hate to give up on it, but we are near.”


The pool — at Maple Lane and Clare Road near Kennedy School — was donated to the neighborhood by developers Bob, Bud and Al Moore in the 1960s. Since then, parents have volunteered to operate the pool, which is called the County Fair Swim Club. The area actually has a baby pool and a large pool that goes from 3 feet deep to 9 feet deep with a diving board. There also are restrooms, a concession stand area and a storage shed.

“Somehow, it has just kind of passed from volunteer to volunteer. Somebody just steps up and says, ‘I’ll do it,’ and then it just ends up being their group of friends or whoever wants to be involved,” Pfeifer said.

Problem is fewer people want to help and nobody has stepped up to take over Pfeifer’s job as president of the club. She’s volunteered in the position longer than anyone before her.

Dale Rorabaugh, who helps with maintenance and lawn care, said his close friend is the reason the pool has remained open.

“Missi organizes everything, buys supplies needed for it, does general maintenance, cleans it about every day. She organizes the lifeguards every year. Makes sure insurance is paid. She does a lot.”

She also recruits about a dozen friends, like Rorabaugh, to help out. The two used to hang out at the pool as kids. They swam, snacked on foods and played cards. It’s a bond that’s lasted a lifetime.

“I’ve have men who are just wonderful and willing to do almost anything for a 12-pack,” Pfeifer said, laughing. But she doesn’t sit back while they work; she’s right there with them.

“It has to be treated with muriatic acid and that is like one of the most atrocious jobs you ever want to do,” she said, explaining that it will take three or four weekends before they can even begin filling the pool with water. “We get better at it every year. I am an awesome cement worker because of it.”

She let out a sigh as she looked at the work ahead. A trash barrel sat in the baby pool filled with mucky water and leaves. The big pool also had dark brown, foul-smelling water inside it. Leaves were scattered everywhere and the trees overhead needed trimmed.

“I can’t even tell you what’s in the bottom of that big pool and I don’t even want to know,” she said, laughing. “Stuff falls in over the winter and it’s the worst smelling thing you’ve ever experienced in your life.”

But, that’s not the toughest part of her volunteer work.

“Running the pool is the fun part. It’s the trying to raise the money to run the pool that I’m tiring of,” she said.


Pfeifer has organized every kind of fundraiser you can imagine: chili feeds, silent auctions, Bingo, poker tournaments and holiday-themed parties. She’s filled out grant applications, but the grants are hard to come by.

“We just don’t fit a category. We are just a bunch of parents trying to keep the pool open for the kids,” she said.

She said the pool hit the jackpot — $22,000 — one year when it was chosen as a beneficiary of Lawrence’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. That helped her get through two summers.

Every year, she gets more creative. Last summer, Pfeifer booked her first wedding and reception. There were big tents and floating balls in the pools that looked like strobe lights. “It was pretty cool,” she said, enthusiastically. “I am willing to rent it for just about anything.”

It costs about $14,000 to operate the pool each year and she often ends up digging into her own pocketbook to help make ends meet.

“Honestly, we are broke,” she said. “But, I’ve been here before — many, many times. Every year, I don’t know how I do it.”

She charges $2 a day, but if somebody can’t pay she doesn’t turn them away. She estimated about 60 children use the pool each day and most of them are from low-income families. Many of their parents are divorced. If the pool weren’t open, she isn’t sure where they would go.

She gets to know all of the kids on a first-name basis and often they will do small jobs like pulling weeds along the fence to go swimming.

“When it’s hot, this place is packed,” she said with a big smile. “It is packed.” Pfeifer said people will order pizza and bring lunches.

“It doesn’t feel like the city pool. It feels more like your backyard.”

She has also hosted movie nights at the pool where they play a movie on the backside of the concession stand area. Sometimes, they furnish bags of popcorn or will have hotdogs and chips.

“It’s hard to find someone who loves it like I do,” she said.

Her mother agrees.

“If it wasn’t for Missi, the pool wouldn’t be open,” Hastings said. “For some reason, the community involvement isn’t as great as it used to be. I suppose it’s because of everybody’s busy schedules. Maybe, they are busier than we were back 35 years ago. I don’t know.”

She said her daughter spends a great deal of time on fundraisers and joked that somehow she still gets roped into helping.

“I’m real proud of her for being involved in the community that much. I think it’s great,” she said. “Missi’s devoted to keeping it open. That’s for sure.”


When she’s not at the pool, she’s working her full-time job as a hair stylist at Shear Perfection or attending her children’s activities. She and her husband, Rick, have three children: Steven, 24; Noah, 16; and Garett, 13. She said her children have grown up around the pool just as she did. Noah is looking forward to being a lifeguard this summer if Pfeifer can raise the money to keep the pool going through the summer.

Her dream would be for someone to give a big donation that could be invested, so the pool would remain open for years to come. Heck, she would love to rename the pool for that donor.

“Listen, I’ve got lots of things I could do with my time, but none that quite have the payoff that this does at the end of the summer,” she said.

Comments

Miamom 1 year, 11 months ago

I grew up in the Kennedy neighborhood-Miller Dr. It's nice someone still runs it but you should charge more than $2 for all day. Sell Family passes. They do that here for $150 for the summer(immediate family only). And they charge $5 for all day. A foundation would be great for the pool.

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armywife 1 year, 11 months ago

Missi, is an awesome individual! I went to CJHS and LHS with her and she's always been a loving and caring person so it comes as no surprise to me that she's done such an outstanding and selfless job at keeping this pool alive! WAY TO GO, MISSI!!!

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kdcollins 1 year, 11 months ago

Just so you know, Missi. I think you've been swimming in that pool since you and Korey were 6 months old. You and Korey swam before you walked. Me and mom threw dembabies around like beachballs back then. We were all fish in water. Oh, the memories.

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incharlottesweb 1 year, 11 months ago

Comment from Missi's Mom. Missi is an amazingly loving person I'm very proud of her for the TLC she gives here neighborhood. We lived on Davis Road , Kennedy neighborhood was a special place for us to raise our 4 children. became friends with many great folks, and are still friends today. The County Fair Pool is a large part of what makes it the neighborhood it is. here is the info if you can help keep this long time safe haven for kids open at least one more year.

Donations can be sent to: County Fair Swim Club, P.O. Box 976, Lawrence, KS 66044 or they can be made online at countyfairswimclub.org.

If you would like to volunteer or learn more about the pool, contact Missi Pfeifer at countyfairswimclub@gmail.com

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incharlottesweb 1 year, 11 months ago

Comment from Missi's Mom. Missi is an amazingly loving person I'm very proud of her for the TLC she gives her neighborhood. We lived on Davis Road , Kennedy neighborhood was a special place for us to raise our 4 children. became friends with many great folks, and are still friends today. The County Fair Pool is a large part of what makes it the neighborhood it is. here is the info if you can help keep this long time safe haven for kids open at least one more year.

Donations can be sent to: County Fair Swim Club, P.O. Box 976, Lawrence, KS 66044 or they can be made online at countyfairswimclub.org.

If you would like to volunteer or learn more about the pool, contact Missi Pfeifer at countyfairswimclub@gmail.com

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DennisAnderson 1 year, 11 months ago

How to help information can be found next to this story. But here it is again:

How to help

The County Fair Swim Club pool in east Lawrence typically opens Memorial Day and closes Labor Day. It’s open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily and costs $2 for a day’s pass.

Missi Pfeifer, club president, estimates it costs about $14,000 annually to operate the pool.

Donations can be sent to: County Fair Swim Club, P.O. Box 976, Lawrence, KS 66044 or they can be made online at countyfairswimclub.org.

If you would like to volunteer or learn more about the pool, contact Missi Pfeifer at countyfairswimclub@gmail.com

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consumer1 1 year, 11 months ago

LJW, is there a phone # to call to offer some help to this young woman?

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ilovelucy 1 year, 11 months ago

Open your eyes Joe. There are a ton of latch key kids in town, due to the parents working.

Missi and her crew do an excellent job. Congratulations on an honor well deserved!!!

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RoeDapple 1 year, 11 months ago

My parents had a charter membership when the pool opened in . . . ('62/'63?) but we moved from the neighborhood. Glad to see it is still open.

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Clint Church 1 year, 11 months ago

Where are all of the kids parents. They could certainly be helping out.

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