Swimtastic Launches Nonprofit to Serve Children

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:36 pm

Waukesha-based Swimtastic Corp., the parent company of the Swimtastic Swim Schools franchise, recently launched Swimtastic Lighthouse, a nonprofit arm of the company. Swimtastic Lighthouse will offer swimming lessons to underprivileged children at any Swimtastic location and serve as the catalyst for the development of children’s homes worldwide, said Susan Wainscott, chief executive officer of Swimtastic Corp.

The idea has been two years in the making, Wainscott said. As Swimtastic continues to experience success with the franchising of its swim schools, Wainscott and her husband, Barrett, who serves as president of the company, see Lighthouse as a way to give back.

The first Swimtastic Swim School opened in Waukesha in 1999. Currently there are three Swimtastic locations in Wisconsin and one in Omaha, Neb. Additional schools are planned for Mequon and Madison and one more is planed for the Omaha area.

"As we have grown quickly with Swimtastic, we have seen the opportunity to give back locally and internationally," said Maureen O’Leary, operation manager for Swimtastic Corp.

The children’s homes will be a combination of an orphanage and a foster care environment, Wainscott said. Children will live in a campus-type property. Three or four buildings will house nine children in each building. An adult couple will live in each building to provide supervision, Wainscott said.

The children living there will also be taught how to swim.

"We want to teach the world to swim, and we have a great passion for it, but the bottom line is that children are our passion," Wainscott said. "We want to continue on with our passion and commitment to children, which includes orphans and underprivileged as well."

Swimtastic Lighthouse is applying for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. The organization plans to receive donations from current Swimtastic Swim School customers as well as from individual philanthropists and corporations, Wainscott said.

Wainscott said she will also be putting money from Swimtastic Corp. and from her personal funds into the organization.

"The inspiration came to me and is more so a conviction than it is a necessity," Wainscott said. "The more you give, the more you receive. Wealth is OK, because it can be used to circulate. In order to give, you have to have."

The first location of a children’s home campus is most likely going to be in Delafield and will be up and running in two years, Wainscott said. Wainscott and O’Leary have scouted out a few locations.

Wainscott has spent the last year researching orphanages and children’s homes across the nation.

"Our goal is to open our first home in the local area," she said.

Swimtastic is actively researching locations for Swimtastic Swim Schools in Nigeria and Turkey, as well as locations for future children’s homes, Wainscott said.

In November, O’Leary and Wainscott attended the All Nigerian American Congress (ANAC) in Washington D.C. and met Nigerian dignitaries and businesspeople interested in bringing both Swimtastic Swim Schools and Swimtastic Lighthouse to the country.

"The ANAC will work to establish social programs and economic development in Nigeria," O’Leary said. "Swimtastic Corp.’s international planning supports similar objectives to the ANAC, such as educational opportunities for children and professional job opportunities for adults."

At the ANAC event, they learned that countries, including Nigeria and Turkey, are looking for successful for-profit businesses to penetrate the market to support the underprivileged in those countries, Wainscott said.

Locally, Swimtastic is attempting the same goal and has already targeted the City of Milwaukee, Wainscott said. She has been working with Pastor James Carrington as a volunteer at the Lighthouse Gospel Chapel, 3512 W. North Ave., Milwaukee, and getting to know the children and needs of the neighborhood, Wainscott said.

Swimtastic Lighthouse plans to have a board of directors of seven volunteers and is currently looking for an executive director, Wainscott said.

"It gives us a purpose other than for ourselves," she said. "Teachers and owners see the rewards of Swimtastic because they can see what they do for children just by teaching them to swim."

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