For those who do not know I got a second job for the summer working at a small community pool in Lufkin. When I first heard about the position I was interning at Impact Lufkin and working with wards 1&2 gathering information for the city to help and improve this part of Lufkin. As a social work intern, I began to fall in love with this area and everyone that was a part of it. Wards 1&2 were full of generational families and everyone knew everyone which made it feel like no matter where you went you were part of the family. But as I began to really become interested in the position I was given many warnings that I should think about finding something else.
Now me being stubborn and hard headed made me want to prove something to all of these people. This park that I have been working at one time was known as the place you could go to do basically anything illegal. It is centered in the heart of North Lufkin and is considered the “Gateway” to Lufkin. This community is also surrounded by poverty. These and many other things were warnings that made me roll my eyes and say that I was up for the challenge. I kept telling myself and others that if I could go on the other side of the world, not speak some of the languages of the countries I visited and ride buses and subways alone at night I would be able to handle a small 60ft pool in broad daylight.
When I went to my certification course my instructor found out that I would be working at this community pool and told me that he too had worked there the last time that it was open (over 4 years ago). He informed me of how the last time he worked there he watched a lifeguard get jumped and slammed into the concrete moments before he was pulled off the stand and jumped himself. Now me being the “bigger bark than bite” type of person I am I immediately came back with “I hope they try me”.
Now fast forward to today, July 1, 2017. I have been a lifeguard at this community pool for over three weeks now and the most action I have seen from all the warnings is a kid cussing my supervisor out after I told him to shut the fence after he left. That was two days into the pool being open. Every other kid that has come through my front gate has been some of the most amazing and sweetest kids ever! I have begun to remember names, get life stories and watch these kids interact with each other.
It’s amazing. The pool opens at 2 pm and by the time that I am pulling in they have recognized my car and will run over and want to just talk about their day and how much they can’t wait to get in there and swim. The kids have even gotten to the point where you can tell how much they want the pool to stay open so they will call the other kids out so that we do not have to.
My favorite part of the day I will have to say is when I see the kids roll up on their bikes when we open and getting in those first few minutes of “What’s Up!” “How’s it going?” “Where is so and so?” During the breaks, the kids used to go outside the gates but now they want to hang around us and talk like we have known each other forever! On days that I know that we will be slower I will bring in snacks for this kids because for some it is one of the only things they will get to eat that day. Today I brought popsicles and you would have thought I had handed them each $100. They were so pumped about those popsicles and thank the lord I bought 150 of them because they flew through them. It honestly brings joy to my heart to hear about these kids daily lives.
I write all of this because I feel for the first time in my life I am where I am supposed to be. Becoming a social worker is the right track for me and I know that because of these kids. I love getting to interact with them and I love being able to get to know them and to listen to their stories. I have lived at both ends of the socioeconomic scale so I am able to relate to these kids in some sort of way. I grew up with two very hard working parents who did anything and everything that they could to make sure that I was taken care of and I was able to live a normal life. Later on, I gained two more parents that continued to instill hard work and dedication. These kids have taught me that no matter what is going on in your life, the world or even down the block sometimes you just have to hang on, take a step back and take in everything that surrounds you because that is what makes up a happy life.