For several years, budget restraints and lack of staffing left the Umana Academy pool idle for several years. In a
community surrounded by water many felt it was a shame that one of Eastie’s only two pools had zero programming and had been closed for almost five years.
“I started here four years ago and seeing this pool empty was just a shame,” said Umana Principal Dr. Claudia Gutierrez. “But there was no way I could open it up and staff it.”
Unbeknownst to Guiterrez the East Boston YMCA board was diligently working to find a way to bring its swimming programs and lessons that are part of the Y’s ‘Strong Swimmers. Safe Kids’ initiative to Eastie.
The board had zeroed in on the unused Umana pool as a possible partnership. Gutierrez decided to joined forces with the Eastie Y and its Executive Director Ann-Margaret Gutierrez to finally bring the Umana pool back to its original glory.
“Several years ago Dr. Gutierrez and I sat down and had a conversation,” said Ann-Margaret Gutierrez. “She showed me how beautiful the pool was and how it has sat idle for years. We decided that it is important for children to feel comfortable around water because you hear about all these drowning accidents every summer so we agreed we needed to do something.”
The result, which came to fruition Saturday during an official ribbon cutting, is a partnership between the Y and the Umana. The partnership will have the Y staff and run programming at the pool for the community at large while the Umana students will benefit from a reopened pool.
“We will provide programming during the school day for Umana students from kindergarten to second grade,” said Ann-Margaret Gutierrez. “This will include YMCA swim lessons and water safety. Then the pool will be opened for lessons and swimming in the evening through the Y.”
Dr. Gutierrez said Saturday that she was ‘so excited’ that this partnership is finally happening.
“I’m excited to have my students come and swim, learn to swim and learn about water safety as part of their school day,” said Dr. Gutierrez. “I really hope this pool again becomes a community tool and resource.”
Greater Boston YMCA CEO James Morton said when Ann-Margaret Gutierrez and Dr. Gutierrez presented the plan to him he was on board from day one.
“When this idea came up–to take this beautiful pool and once again making it available to community and giving children the opportunity to learn how to swim and be safe around water I said ‘absolutely’. We have this beautiful facility in a community surrounded by by water. How could we not act and not allow our children to have access to one of the two pools in the community. Good people make good things happen and that’s exactly what Ann-Margaret Gutierrez and Dr. Gutierrez did with the interest of our children in mind. I want to personally thank them for doing this work and putting in the effort to make this happen.”
Sen. Joseph Boncore said it was very easy for him to support a partnership like the one between the Y and Umana.
“When good people come together good things happen,” said Boncore. “This pool has been an asset to this community for close to a half a century but it was unfortunate it has been closed for so long. I just want to thank the Umana and Y board and all the families that came together to make sure this pool was reopened.”
Rep. Adrian Madaro, a former East Boston Y board member, said Saturday was such an exciting day.
“I’m not going to lie I thought this may never happen because we had worked on it for so long with no results,” he said. “This was the only Y in the Greater Boston network that did not have access to a pool or swimming lessons. The water is our natural resource in our community but kids need to learn how to swim before they can embrace that natural resource. We have now finally opened up this pool and created a partnership between the Umana and the Y that will be a tremendous resource for years to come.”
City Councilor Lydia Edwards added, “The Y has already proven its dedication to making the community feel welcome, loved and access to education and care. When I see this pool and this rededication and the groundwork laid by the board members at the Y it really addresses the fact a lot of kids here don’t have access to a pool and water familiarity.”
Cutine for FP.
City Councilor Lydia Edwards Sen. Joseph Boncore and Rep. Adrian Madaro join Umana Principal Dr. Claudia Gutierrez, East Boston Y Executive Director Ann-Margaret Gutierrez and Greater Boston YMCA CEO James Morton in cutting the ribbon on the Y and Umana’s partnership at the Umana pool.
A Umana student takes the first lap in the pool that has been closed for over five years.