Children who benefit from programs at the Foord Clubhouse Morgan Olsen, Travis Leavitt and Jerome Mailloux, stand under the new sign with NONA staff Susan Heighway (left), Debbie Haar, Aimee Chevrier, Kendra Krusel, Rebecca Kerr and Miranda Griffin. (Lisa VanderVelde/Morning Star)

Foord family recognized for new NONA clubhouse

Beautiful new facility officially opens Friday

Friday is a special day in the history of the North Okanagan Neurological Association (NONA).

The organization which provides therapy services to children with development delays will officially open its new clubhouse, the Foord Clubhouse, at its 34th Street property in Vernon. The clubhouse is named in honour and memory of well-known Vernon couple Tom and Norah Foord. Tom was the founder of Kal Tire, and he and Norah were both involved with NONA dating back to 1976.

Longtime Kal Tire executive Archie Stroh will have the honour of dedicating the beautiful new Foord Clubhouse 11 years to the day Tom Foord dedicated the NONA Sovereign Treehouse – the organization’s main building – to Dr. Art Sovereign, founder of NONA.

“It’s hard to put into words how much of an impact the Foords have had on the success of NONA, and thereby the support of many thousands of children,” said NONA executive director Helen Armstrong. “It’s an honour to have their name attached to NONA in this way, and we are very grateful to the Foord family for allowing us to call our new building the Foord Clubhouse.”

Norah Foord was one of NONA’s first volunteers in 1976, shortly after Sovereign and a group of parents created NONA. She helped with the swim progam at the Vernon Recreation Centre pool and volunteered for NONA in many other capacities.

The Foords helped with every capital project undertaken in NONA’s 40-plus years of operation, lending their influence for much-needed grants and putting the kids that NONA serves first. Tom Foord was the honourary chiar of the campaign to raise money to build the Sovereign Treehouse, which opened in 2006.

In 2014, NONA’s board made the decision to replace a 27th Street bungalow – the original clubhouse – with the new Foord Clubhouse.

“We had gone from helping 20 kids to 60 kids. We had to replace it,” said Armstrong. “We’re going from 2,500 square feet to six or seven thousand square feet.”

In 1982, the NONA Child Development Centre opened at its current site, receiving a grant to renovate an auto parts depot that was on the site. Once renovations were complete, all nine staff were able to be under one roof. NONA stayed in this building until the Sovereign Treehouse was built in the parking lot on the original site. Today, NONA sees more than 750 kids with a staff of 40.

The new Foord Clubhouse gives NONA twice as many therapy rooms, a beautiful new kitchen and a great new activity room.

“We are able now to take kids off our waiting list because we have the ability and housing and facility to provide more service,” said Armstrong. “That’s the whole reason we do it. To get kids off a wait list and into active service.”

The new facility has a lobby, something that wasn’t available in the previous clubhouse. Parents will be able to sit inside and wait for their kids. Or, they can do something they couldn’t do before, and neither could Armstrong for that matter: thanks to two-way windows in the rooms, parents can watch their kids in their sessions with the provider; the kids and provider can’t see the parents.

“The specialists and speech pathologists want the parents to see what’s going on so they can take it home and work on it with their kids,” said Armstrong, who has never seen a session herself. “There’s no way to see one unless I was in the room and I can’t be in the room.”

There is a large activity room, big enough for a child to ride a bike. Staff have a work area on the second floor of the three-storey building. A dozen behaviour interventionists share space and work at different times with different children.

The Foord Clubhouse is close to the Sovereign Treehouse so staff can share servers, information and data on a child all in one spot.

“Everybody’s aware of what’s going on at all times,” said Armstrong. “The playground is right next door. It lets everybody use all the same equipment and share all of the same information.”

NONA would like to recognize the following businesses for their support during the clubhouse campaign: Image Studio; Arrowleaf Cellars; Avalon Event Rentals; Country Manor Catering; SUN FM; Kelowna Sound Rentals; Swan Lake Nurseryland; The Schubert Centre.