New cabins will soon be ready for a special group of campers. Easter Seals Iowa serves more than 1,000 adults and kids with special needs at Camp Sunnyside. But, the old cabins where they slept needed quite a bit of attention.
Blake Shehay is learning all about the new place he’ll soon spend a lot of time. He says, “I like to go fishing. I like the new cabins a lot. I like how they look.”
The fifteen year-old stays at Camp Sunnyside every other weekend and for eight weeks in the summer. Mom Margie Shehay says, “Blake has special needs and he can’t be left alone.”
He started going to the camp eight years ago. The cabins where he slept were built 50 years ago. Easter Seals Iowa Executive Director Sherri Nielsen says, “We like to call them well loved.” She goes on to say, “They were very old and dilapidated. They weren’t accessible. They just were no longer meeting our needs.”
That’s where President and CEO of Hubbell Realty Company Rick Tollakson stepped in. He says, “You see how much fun the campers have here and how excited they are to be here. And, you think, we could do better than that. As a community we can do a lot more. “
18 months ago he started working with Easter Seals Iowa to organize a building blitz. It’s about 2,000 volunteers working 24/7 to finish two cabins for campers in just seven days. He says, “We’ve created what probably isn’t a small cabin. They’re really more of a dormitory style cabin. Each one has beds for about 50 campers. It has indoor plumbing facilities.”
One of the things Blake is most excited about is the shower room because the showers will actually be inside the cabin. Nielsen says, “These structures for us will mean so much to our campers. It will mean they don’t have to come out in January across campus to the shower houses. If we have had bad weather right now, we had to move across campus to the storm shelter where these new structures will have a storm shelter right in them.”
The project costs more than $2 million. But, everything was donated or covered by fundraising. Margie Shehay says, “A lot of people have come and given up their time. And, it’s going to be a beautiful place.”
Blake agrees, saying, “It’s going to be cool.”
Crews started working Monday, September 16. The ribbon cutting will be at 2 p.m. Monday, September 23. You can be a part of the project. Volunteers are needed, especially this weekend, to support the workers by serving food or working security. Click here to go to Cabins For Campers website to sign up.