NONA says goodbye to Clubhouse

Playhouse to be auctioned off at Bollywood Bang to help raise funds for the real Clubhouse at NONA

A new space for children with special needs to build skills, confidence and smiles is getting ready to open its doors.

The North Okanagan Neurological Association is hoping to move in to the new Clubhouse this year – and out of a space they have outgrown as it serves more than 700 children a year.

While fundraising has been underway for the Help Build the Clubhouse campaign since February 2016, it is still short of its goal.

So far, $1.1 million has been raised towards the $1.6 million needed to create the purpose-built facility for youth and children in need.

“We’re hoping to move in early part of June and have a grand opening in September so this is our last push,” said Helen Armstrong, NONA executive director. “It’s down to the wire, but it’s a lot of money still left to raise.”

As part of that push, NONA has decided to say goodbye to a familiar structure that has helped generate interest and build excitement towards the cause.

The kid-sized Clubhouse will be sold at a live auction at Bollywood Bang, April 29 – a sold out event which is raising funds for the NONA campaign.

The approximately 10-foot tall, 10-foot long and six-foot wide playhouse has a touch of celebrity charm, having been in almost every local parade and a host of major events over the past year-and-a-bit.

It all started with Vernon artist Nancy Wilde, back in 2015 over fundraising discussions.

“We were talking about ways to bring some community spirit to the project,” said Armstrong.

The Vernon Winter Carnival parade was highlighted, with its great exposure, and plans for a float were put in the works.

“The kids wanted to have their own clubhouse,” said Armstrong, adding that almost overnight Wilde came back with a design that was everything they imagined.

So with the help of Wilde’s shop, tools, connections, and partner, NONA staff came out every weekend, putting in more than 500 hours of volunteer time, and built the clubhouse from the ground up.

Since the majority of staff are women, Wilde loved seeing the female-presence tackle the project fearlessly.

“There were some women here who had never used power tools before and by the end they were running chopsaws,” said Wilde.

Even some of the kids with autism came up to help paint.

“It was really fun,” said Wilde, who enjoyed working with the children on a cause that she has a personal connection to.

Since then, through its public spotlight, the Clubhouse has captured the hearts and imaginations of children and families who struggle with special needs. And it has done a great job in helping the campaign.

“It’s amazing how many people’s lives have been touched by NONA,” said Armstrong.

But the time has come to say goodbye, in hopes of fulfilling the goal of the little clubhouse.

“We have to get these kids into that centre,” said Armstrong, “Kids are waiting.”

The clubhouse would make a great addition for a family or grandparents, who would benefit from the one-of-a-kind piece.

Along with all the heart that it possesses, the playhouse is full of history. The roof came off the old Mc&Mc warehouse (across from Okanagan Spring), there’s some aged wood from a log building site and even an old horseshoe off Wilde’s BX property.

“It’s pretty much all repurposed, except for the 2x4s and it’s all build to code,” said Wilde.

Anyone interested the Clubhouse can contact Helen Armstrong at 250-549-1281.

Outside of Bollywood Bang, NONA is also being supported by Fit Body Bootcamps in Armstrong, Kelowna and Vernon, which have made NONA their charity of the month for April, raising funds by offering new clients seven days for $7. And Tita’s Italian Bistro is selling merchandise and donating all the proceeds to NONA, plus matching all donations.

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