Telethon supports children’s centre

The changing face of the OSNS Child Development Centre will be front and centre in this year’s Shaw Share-a-Smile Telethon.

Arvin Zolein sits on the Harley Davidson Fat Bob motorcycle with the OSNS Child Development Centre mascot (occupational therapist Rob Giachino) recently. The Shaw Share a Smile Telethon is on Sunday

The changing face of the OSNS Child Development Centre will be front and centre in this year’s Shaw Share-a-Smile Telethon.

The 34th annual fundraiser on Sunday, Nov. 24, will be the first for new executive director Manisha Willms who took over from Judy Sentes last July.

Among the changes this time around are a shortened telethon, from nine to five hours, online streaming and a silent auction.

Another new face this year is Global Okanagan news anchor Toby Tannas, who is taking over emcee duties from long-time host Mike Roberts.

“We’re really excited about a new format for this event,” said Willms. “It’s iconic in Penticton that the Share-a-Smile Telethon pulls in all kinds of community support and we hope that support continues as we revamp.

“The telethon this year for us is hugely important because we’re in a year of transition and we depend on community funding.”

Last year’s event raised over $50,000.

The reason for adding the silent auction came after a board decision not to hold the Evergreen Ball, which the auction was a large part of.

“The Evergreen Ball is always a fantastic event but we just thought this year it was a lot to take on for a new administrative team and a fairly new board,” said Willms.

“We decided we’d like to do one thing really well, the telethon.”

She added the community, particularly local businesses have been very generous in donating items and the auction will be a nice addition to the event.

A review of all of the fundraising efforts is planned at which time a decision about which events will continue is made.

One of the most popular fundraisers is the raffle for the Harley Davidson motorcycle (and early bird scooter prize) which is going ahead.

The bike was recently delivered to the centre and tickets go on sale at the end of December for the June, 2014 draw.

In addition to the live entertainment, the telethon features a series of video segments on the centre’s involvement in the community and services it provides.

“People have asked why does the centre always need money, the answer is we provide therapy support for children with developmental difficulties who are struggling but the amount of money we get from the government doesn’t cover those costs,” said Willms.

“So we’re always in the position of asking the community to help us buy new materials, modernize and cover shortfalls and they have always been there for us.”

She added by helping children as early as possible, the work done by the various departments not only helps them reach their full potential but saves millions of tax dollars down the road.

“We think a lot about the kids helping them walk and talk but one of our big goals is to support families,” said Willms.

“That family support strengthens the community as a whole because parents can be more productive at work and continue their employment without interruption so what we provide really does radiate out into all facets of society.”

The telethon begins at noon and will wrap up at 5 p.m.