Child Development Centre autism centre project manager Andrea Elzinga and Spruce Lee Construction site manager Darren McEachen excited the walls are going up at the autism centre in advance of Saturday’s 40th Anniversary celebration.

Child Development Centre autism centre project manager Andrea Elzinga and Spruce Lee Construction site manager Darren McEachen excited the walls are going up at the autism centre in advance of Saturday’s 40th Anniversary celebration.

Child Development Centre celebrates past and future

In the near future, staff at the Child Development Centre will be able to come out of the closet.

In the near future, staff at the Child Development Centre will be able to come out of the closet.

That’s because for three years, office spaces have been created in spots that were once clothes closets, chuckled executive director Nancy Gale on the eve of Saturday’s celebration and book launch celebrating the CDC’s 40th anniversary.

Although it wasn’t organized as a way to mark its fourth decade, the centre is getting an addition, slated for completion mid October and an autism centre that should be ready by Christmas.

Spruce Lee Construction has been fabulous doing the extension and centre, Gale said.

“We haven’t lost a day and they’ve worked around us. They are a whole group of young men who have really taken it on as their centre.”

Titled, Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre Association — 40 Years Working With Community, the coil-bound book was compiled by Elaine Watt.

Many of the articles and photographs in the book were printed in the Williams Lake Tribune between 1974 and 2013.

“Special thanks to Aileen Hewett and others who have clipped, collected, and scrapbooked these articles,” the front note page states.

Hewett was the person who started the centre all those years ago.

Gale also credited Ron Malmas and Steve Nesbitt for helping format the book.

Looking back through the association’s history Gale said the association really is a community organization.

“There’s been consistency in terms of our values,” she said.

In March Andrea Elzinga was hired to manage the autism centre project and said last Friday she was excited because the walls were going up.

“It’s neat to see the plans on paper materialize,” Elzinga smiled.

And since she started working on the project she’s met more and more people who have a child with autism or know someone who does.

“I’ve been learning and seeing how they are challenged,” she added. “When people find out I am working here they share their stories and I tell them about all the positive work being done here.”

Sixty per cent of the centre’s funding is coming from the John Gordon Autism Foundation, who was approached by Cathie Durfeld from Community Living BC in Williams Lake.

“They told me they wanted to put some money outside of Vancouver,” Durfeld said when the CDC announced the funding.

“They loved the idea,” Gale said at the time. “The board supported the idea unanimously and on Nov. 18 I received a hand-written cheque for $96,000.”

Presently two CDC staff members are trained to work with autistic children. Originally there were 11 children in the program, but after the staff members were trained, the number grew to 30.

Gale anticipates that the centre will become a hub for the north, while Durfeld added the foundation’s money is supporting a project that will go a long way in helping meet the needs of autistic people in Williams Lake.

More recently the Pacific Autism Centre in Vancouver contacted Gale to tell her they envision the Williams Lake centre being connected to theirs.

“They will begin constructing the Autism Centre for Excellence in 2015 and by working with them our staff and parents will have access to staffing and technology,” Gale said.

Elzinga said another thing that’s taken on a life of its own is local funding for the centre.

“Prime Meats, BDD, Blocks-R-Us, KC Program and the Square Dancing Club have had fundraisers on their own and brought money in,” she smiled. “It’s pretty neat.”

The 40th Anniversary Celebration takes place Saturday, Sept. 27 from 2 to 4 p.m at the centre located at 690 North Second Avenue.