Almost 350 children are still waiting up to a year for services at the Nanaimo Child Development Centre.
It’s an improvement from a few years ago when more than 400 children could wait up to two years for service, but the centre wants to reduce wait times even more.
“To me it’s still horrendous. It’s hard to think of a family waiting that long but it’s still a far cry from two years,” said Michelle Kocourek, resource development for the CDC.
Reducing wait times takes money. To raise funds to provide needed services to children, the CDC is hosting its sixth annual Opening Doors Gala: Teaming Up for a Better Tomorrow on Friday (Oct. 14) at the Coast Bastion Inn. The centre hopes to raise $20,000 to fund programs such as speech and occupational therapy.
This year’s event features bronze medal Olympian Steve Podborski as the guest speaker and is hosted by popular television personality Bruce Williams.
Andrea Forester, who has spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, helped plan the event for months, with her care attendant Christy Michel, and CDC staff Dino Tsembelis and Kocourek.
The cause is close to Forester’s heart. She received help from the centre at age five.
Now almost 30, she is trying to give back to an organization that made such a difference in her childhood.
“They need the money so they can hire the staff to help these kids,” said Forester. “I want the child development centre to keep helping kids.”
Forester said she doesn’t remember the details of the occupational and speech therapy, but what stuck with her is how the therapists made it fun. She participated in activities that kept her engaged and they helped her gain valuable skills that she would use the rest of her life.
The child development centre helps kids in the community and when people donate, they know what the money is being used for, Forester said.
At the gala, the centre is asking guests to donate based on hours, therapy or specific programs. A $60 donation gives a child one hour of therapy, while $420 will provide an assessment that includes seven hours of therapy, or allows a child to attend the 10-week Caterpillars to Butterflies program that helps children with social and emotional mental health issues.
The gala includes dinner, auction and a raffle for a WestJet travel voucher for two to any scheduled destination.
Attendees are encouraged to come dressed in their favourite team colours and jerseys, or as a tacky tourist, for the sports and travel theme.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the dinner begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $80, or $750 for a table of 10.
Tax receipts will be issued in the amount of $30 for each ticket purchased.
To buy tickets, please call Kocourek at 250-753-0251, ext. 227, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or drop by the centre, located at 1135 Nelson St.