Make a Splash! MHCO Needs Your Help to Build New Pool


Oh, summer pool!

So cold and blue

Are you aware

That I love you?

Your diving board,

Your lovely slide …

Which is best?

I can’t decide.

On sunny days that never end

Oh, summer pool

You’re my best friend!

With that recital of a poem from PBS’ Arthurshow, Grand Master Speed Hallman and the board of the Masonic Home for Children kicked off the official “Make a Splash” pool fundraising campaign to get the kids at Oxford back into the swim of things.

The 30-year-old pool has passed its prime (and its dotage) say the experts, and must be replaced. An inspection last year of the pool built in 1988 shows that the shower and pump houses had aged beyond repair, decking was broken, and ladders were permanently disconnected.

It just wasn’t safe anymore for the kids and the sad order came: Close the pool.

“Nothing is more important to us than the safety and happiness of our kids,” says Administrator Kevin Otis. “It was a no brainer – a sad no brainer – that the pool had to be closed.”

But it won’t be gone forever.

The MHCO board of directors, led by Chairman Dewey Preslar, joined with MHCO staff and kids on May 11 to kick off the “Make a Splash” campaign to raise $725,000 to build a new pool, a pool house, and add some fun new attractions – including a giant mushroom, a security fence, and a safe new slippery slide.

Plans call for construction of a six-lane pool with a “beach-type” zero-entry feature, meaning swimmers wade in rather than jump from the shallow end. There also will be a “splash pad” that takes the place of an old-school baby pool, complete with a mushroom-shaped shower, bubblers and fountains. The new pool house will have an upgraded lifeguard office, disabled-accessible showers and an updated concession stand.

The biggest change? The pool itself will be in a new location, closer to parking and administration buildings, which will give swimmers quicker access to other campus activities.

Past Grand Master Preslar, who chairs the MHCO board, says a great effort has gone into planning for the pool to ensure that the home builds the best pool for the best price – and all with safety in mind.

“We have been talking about this project for a long time,” Preslar told board members, friends and a handful of giggling tiny MHCO residents. “I hardly have words now to say how thrilled we are to launch this campaign and get our kids back into the pool! I give thanks to God for everyone who brought us to this place.”

The pool has been the scene of so many great memories for the kids over the years. The MHCO board and Otis began researching the project and putting out bids for the work more than a year ago. The goal: to replace and upgrade the pool without breaking the bank.

The $725,000 goal will cover pool costs, maintenance and all related utility work, permitting and contingencies.

Folks are already lining up to be a part of the project. As of presstime, pledges totaling $271,000 had been received, including a $100,000 contribution from the North Carolina Masonic Foundation.

To contribute, contact MHCO or get in touch with Chris Richardson, eastern region director of development for the NCMF, at crichardson@mfnc.orgor call him at 919-690-5996.

If the fundraising campaign goes as planned, construction should begin soon with an eye toward completion by this fall.

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