SAN DIEGO — There is some good news to share out of Barrio Logan: After nearly four years, the community pool is finally back open! The Barrio Station pool last operated during the summer of 2019.
Their first roadblock was the pandemic. Then, they couldn't find any lifeguards.
"I cry when I'm happy. And I'm very moved right now. I'm very, very moved," said Rachael Ortiz, the community center's executive director.
Ortiz reached out to CBS 8 two weeks ago with a plea: help her find lifeguards so she could open the pool after having been closed for nearly four years.
According to the American Lifeguard Association, across the United States, about half of the nation's 309,000 public pools will be forced to close their doors or reduce hours due to a lifeguard shortage.
The pandemic backlogged lifeguards to renew their certification.
So, things looked bleak. But, following the news coverage, Ortiz says several people reached out.
Since then, she's gone from needing one lifeguard, to hiring three.
"It's very fulfilling," said Erica Buenconsejo, one of the new hires. Buenconsejo says she had been looking for a second job when she saw Ortiz's story.
Having been a lifeguard for years, she jumped at the chance to help.
"When I saw Rachael (Ortiz) on the news, that inspired me because I had been looking for something, looking for some opportunity to work with kids and the youth," said Buenconsejo.
Buenconsejo says she loves working with kids and seeing people so happy.
The pool reopened when many needed a place to cool off during this continuing heatwave.
"I love supporting pools. I used to be a lifeguard, so when you did a report, I said we're going down to swim," said Herrera Tripp.
The Barrio Station pool has been a fixture in barrio logan for almost forty years, making it more than just a pool. It's part of the community.
Ortiz says she’s grateful and relieved to have it back open.
"We have people from the community that come here. They have a place to go here, and we have a youth center across the street, so between the two, it's a complete package for them. We're essential for the community," said Ortiz.
Barrio Station is located at 2196 Newton Avenue. It's open Monday through Friday from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. and is free for everyone.
WATCH RELATED: Barrio Logan community pool with no lifeguards leaves dozens of families without a place to cool down (July 2023).
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