May of 2022 marked the start of the 10th year since the opening of the Aquatic Center. 2021 was a challenging year with Covid and unusual maintenance issues, but thanks to loan forgiveness and directed-donations, the remaining $350,000 of community member loans were paid off in 2021. To continue with our mission to provide the Mission Valley community a facility that is accessible to all ages and abilities, promotes the development of safe recreational water skills and encourages a healthy lifestyle for future generations, the Board of Directors for Mission Valley Aquatics and Fitness passed a resolution for a $1,000,000 fund-raising campaign to ensure sustainability for the next 10 years and meet the upcoming maintenance and operations issues. It would also allow us to continue to expand on the life changing programs the facility offers.
The resolution is hoping for at least 10 donors to make $10,000 yearly donation for 10 years or preferably $100,000 up-front. Smaller amounts are also appreciated. If more than 10 donors are found, a Capital Projects fund will be established to expand the facility to better serve the health needs of the community. Early ideas include a multi-purpose gym and entry level pool. Various funding techniques are available. Lump-sum is preferred; pledges are also welcome. Donations of appreciated property for tax savings are possible. The first donor is planning on donating property with a large capital gain for $100,000, saving $30,000 in income taxes and possibly estate taxes later. Directed gifts can also be made through the Greater Polson Community Foundation.
At its core, the facility is community-minded and aims to be accessible to all age ranges, fitness levels, and income levels in the Mission Valley. This is demonstrated by its low user fees and a leadership that is intent on building long term relationships with area nonprofits and user groups from all corners of the population. By partnering with entities like the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Diabetes Program, the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Flathead Reservation, Salish Kootenai College, Kicking Horse Job Corps and Mission Mountain Enterprises, MVA has been able to guarantee access to individuals with the greatest need, without compromising, on having a state-of-the art aquatic center with innovative programs and a highly trained, passionate staff.
The heart of MVA is the wide range of aquatic programming that caters to the specific needs of our community members. For example, almost 900 individual enrollments in the facility’s thriving eight-week warm water Aqua Therapy class show that Polson’s senior citizens are one of its largest and most consistent user groups. Silver & Fit, a supplemental healthcare program that encourages seniors to lead healthier, more active lives, has paid for almost 5,000 of its member’s visits since November 2013.
Over 1,500 enrollments in the facility’s four-week youth swim lesson program proves that seniors are not the only group to benefit from the new pool. Thanks in part to an ongoing grant from the Greater Polson Community Foundation, more than 250 Boys and Girls Club students attended swim lessons two days a week throughout the school year at no cost to the parents or the club. Home schoolers and regional private schools attend for lessons on a regular basis during the school day, and Polson’s Cherry Valley Elementary has participated in a high-energy, fun-focused swimming program each spring.
With the addition of this facility to the community, Polson has the capacity to host state-wide special events that support these healthy values. After a successful 2015 Montana Masters State Championship (sanctioned by United States Masters Swimming), the aquatic center hosted the 2016 Montana Swimming B-C State Championship (a USA Swimming event for youth swim teams) and the Montana Senior Citizens Olympics.
Finally, the aquatic center’s completion was a clear catalyst to the development of the Ridgewater subdivision, which is now home to several new office buildings, stand-alone retailers, a major hotel, restaurants, a soccer field complex, 2 dialysis clinics, 2 medical clinics, dental & optometrist offices, a 24-hour fitness center, art studio, and several smaller businesses. Another group will be building a neighboring ice rink, and plans to "open the door by 2024."
More than ever before, Polson residents are inspired to take action. From community members to developers, to government leaders and nonprofit groups, the right kind of energy is bringing our city into a new era where efforts to improve everyone’s quality of life are not only embraced but celebrated.
To donate or for more information, contact James Oates at (406) 270-7826 or email@example.com.