Nothing Fishy About LifeTown’s Relaxation Spot

With a building that has an indoor Main Street, playground, studio kitchen and more, it’s hard to believe that there was ever something missing. But it turns out what was needed was a quiet spot outdoors for introspection and relaxation.

That element was added to the front of LifeTown in late August with the official opening of a beautiful koi pond called the “Fountain of Blessings.” Sponsored by the Berger family, the pond was an instant hit with youngsters who watched as the brightly colored fish were introduced to the pond.

“Oh my gosh!” cried FC participant Dina, as she emptied a plastic baggie that held some of the fish into the pond and watched them flop and find their footing in the stone-encased waterway. 

The pond was sponsored by Brendan Berger and his wife, Mara, who teaches art at LifeTown. Berger said the idea for the water feature was inspired by their own backyard. “We have a koi pond in our yard and it’s one of the first things I see each day. It’s a place I go to reflect and to relax.”

“It’s our hope,” he continued, “that this will have the same effect on the participants at LifeTown and Friendship Circle.”

One other consideration, he said, was the fact that LifeTown is almost entirely indoors and the pandemic showed the importance of having dedicated outdoor spaces.

For the creation of the pond, Berger and LifeTown staff turned to Mike Gannon of Full Service Aquatics, who got his first peek at LifeTown three years ago and was “anxious to become involved in a facility with such an amazing purpose.”

Gannon set about designing the space and finding just the right fish to enhance the waterscape. “I like seeing the kids connect to something other than screens,” he said. “The pond gives them a window into nature.”

In addition to the fish, the pond includes a sitting area and stone benches where the children can enjoy the peace and tranquility of the running water.

Speaking at the official opening of the pond, LifeTown CEO Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum shared that the pond’s name, “Fountain of Blessings,” comes from the founder of the Chasidic movement, the Ba’al Shem Tov, who taught that water is a sign of blessing and that Torah is compared to water because it gives life.

“Each day as the staff and participants enter LifeTown and climb the musical stairs, overlooking the pond, it will bring blessings to everything that happens here,” he said.

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