Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 9:04am

Waco – The leadership of the Talitha Koum Institute recently decided to permanently close their Junior Olympic sized pool and utilize the space to expand their therapeutic services to Waco children.

This decision created an extraordinary need for dirt, and Baylor University came to the rescue. Not even twenty four hours after Baylor’s First Lady, Alice Starr, heard about the decision to close the pool, the Talitha Koum Institute’s new Executive Director, Jan Wengler, received an email from Andy Trimble, Senior Grounds Manager at Baylor. Andy explained that Baylor was concluding a phase of their baseball field renovation project and if the Talitha Koum Institute could prepare the site within a forty eight hour timeline, they would ask their contractor, Sports Field Solutions, to begin to fill the pool.

Kevin Diserens, MannaWorks Project Manager, and his team worked tireless hours in the summer heat to drill holes in the bottom of the pool with jack hammers and remove the fence that previously enclosed the pool. Thanks to Kevin and his team, the site was ready just in time. Executives from Sports Field Solutions, Mike Pender and Randy Healer, juggled their tight schedules and delivered over eighty loads of dirt.

“Baylor has always been an incredible partner and friend of the Talitha Koum Institute,” says Executive Director, Jan Wengler. “We are continually looking for opportunities for growth and it is contributions from the Waco Community like this gift from Baylor that help us achieve that. This is a huge step for the Talitha Koum Institute and it allows us the option to serve more children.”
The Talitha Koum Institute is a mental health Therapeutic Nurture Center focusing on the brain development of at risk children. Through an intensive care program involving their Therapeutic Nurture Center, alongside school age mentoring, parent education, and community training programs, the Talitha Koum Institute strives to improve outcomes by providing comprehensive support for each child’s family, while growing to support the children until the time they reach high school graduation. The Talitha Koum Institute opened the Therapeutic Nursery in 2003 and will celebrate their tenth anniversary in January 2013. In 1999, with funding from Waco’s Cooper Foundation, the founders of the Talitha Koum Institute, who were CrossTies Ecumenical Church members, purchased the former Gonzales Boys & Girls Club building which is located in the South Waco community, at the corner of 13th and Clay. This property is where the Talitha Koum Institute operates and it came equipped with a junior Olympic size pool, which was restored and then opened. Called “Making Waves,” the Talitha Koum Institute program employed neighborhood residents, trained teen lifeguards, and offered swimming lessons to children and adults in the community.

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