A ‘Wendy house’: Enchanting playhouse built as fundraiser for ASAP

July 2019 Posted in Community, People

Mailey Peterson looks on as Bailey and Lil’ Dawg enjoy the spacious playhouse front porch Brenna Wiegand

By Brenna Wiegand

Hard to believe half a dozen years have passed since the middle school after-school program began.

At the time, local pastors saw a need for something constructive to fill the 3-6 p.m. gap for kids who haven’t much going on otherwise. They formed the Silverton Middle School After-School Activities Program – ASAP – and held it at Immanuel Lutheran Church, on the corner of Oak and Church streets.

“We’re a nonprofit and do not charge anything to the students or the parents for this after-school program and we really want to keep it that way,” ASAP fund raising chair Donna Eberle said. “When the kids come they get help with their homework, snacks, activities and a full, healthy meal.”

Keeping such an enterprise going three days a week takes money; about $60,000 a year at last count, and organizers must stay on their toes to seek the perennial funds required.

Their diligence has paid off and the program has grown over the past six years. They started with a paid director, some volunteers and two days a week. Now they’ve added two paid coordinators, sixth graders and an extra day a week to the mix. The core of dedicated volunteers who cook or tutor has never wavered, though it has grown to more than  60.

With so much at stake, ASAP’s fund-raising committee held a brainstorming session in January. They knew they wanted to do something at Homer Davenport Comunity Festival, and the dunk tank was already spoken for.

A committee member recalled seeing where the drawing for a hand-built playhouse had had much success. The group latched onto the idea.

They set about finding a builder, contacting the senior center, high school shop program, retired builders… February, March, April went by without a break; still, the committee held out hope that their playhouse would come to fruition.

One day Neil MacInnes appeared on their radar – an Immanuel Lutheran Church member who’d built some things for the church. They hemmed and hawed and finally someone got up the courage to ask him, to which he replied “I’d love to.”

Emboldened by their success, Eberle visited Withers Lumber in search of a sponsor and was asked by manager Mike Brennan for a list of materials.

The excited group began searching the Internet for plans and came upon a $5 “Wendy House” pattern. They were reminded that in Peter Pan, the Lost Boys inadvertently injure Wendy and build her a little house in which to recover – and that in England little playhouses are called “Wendy houses.”

MacInnes approved the plans and sent the list to Withers Lumber who donated $790 worth of materials – basically enough for the entire playhouse – and delivered it.

“We just couldn’t be more thrilled,” Eberle said. “We had the idea; we had this wonderful man who said he’d make it for free and this wonderful business who donated the lumber. So we now have a finished playhouse.”

Look for “The House that ASAP Built” in the Homer Davenport parade and at the festival in the park, when ticket sales commence. The win will be drawn Saturday, Oct. 5 at the Silverton Sidewalk Shindig. Through Donna’s encouragement her husband Bob has been instrumental in getting the playhouse from Point A to Point B and will likely drive the parade float. The playhouse, 92-by-78-by-80 inches at its apex, has a composite roof, real sliding windows and is being left unpainted for the winner to customize.

About 80 students are registered for ASAP; less than half attend on any given day. Attendance has dipped a little over the past two years since the middle school was relocated to the “old high school” from its longtime location a block or two from Immanuel.

If they’re prompt, kids can catch a 3:05 p.m. bus for the church, but that’s easier said than done when you’re a middle schooler.

All the same, ASAP is handy on Wednesdays when it meets at Assembly of God, right across from the “new” middle school. There, however, they don’t have the indoor facility/gym where the kids can really cut loose.

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