Fundraising goal set for Carly’s Clubhouse

Dustin Chandler presented plans, goals and opportunities for involvement in Carly's Clubhouse during a July 22 Pelham Business Council meeting. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

Dustin Chandler presented plans, goals and opportunities for involvement in Carly’s Clubhouse during a July 22 Pelham Business Council meeting. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—Two weeks after receiving support from the Pelham City Council, the Carly’s Clubhouse project has rapidly advanced and begun to take shape. Dustin Chandler, Pelham police officer and driving force behind Carly’s Clubhouse, presented plans, fundraising goals and involvement opportunities to the Pelham business community during a July 22 Business Council meeting.

“The city of Pelham has a great opportunity to bring two communities together… the special needs community and the typical community,” Chandler said. “This playground is 100 percent made up of you guys in this room and the community.”

Chandler explained the entire project will be supported by fundraising efforts and no money would come from the city. After researching all-inclusive playgrounds in other communities and discussion with Leathers and Associates, Chandler set the project fundraising goal to $700,000.

“When I go, I go big,” Chandler said. “I want Pelham to be on the map as the number one all-inclusive playground… in the world.”

The $700,000 will cover all of the components for the playground, including the latest in all-inclusive playground equipment, such as 3-foot high monkey bars “so a kid in a wheelchair can use monkey bars,” and a zip line for special needs and typical children to ride, Chandler explained.

Carly’s Clubhouse offers numerous volunteer and sponsorship opportunities from the business community. Chandler encouraged any construction businesses to consider assisting community members during the building phase of the project. He also noted businesses can sponsor the project by donating money, funding a specific component or purchasing an engraved picket for the fence that will enclose the playground.

Chandler is currently working to set up a 501c(3), but until that time, Carly’s Clubhouse has partnered with Aaron’s Staff, a respite care program for special needs families in Alabaster, and set up an account under their 501c(3) for donations, Chandler explained.

Although $700,000 may seem a large amount, Chandler said he believed fundraising would not be a problem, noting nearly $50,000 has been pledged to Carly’s Clubhouse in just two weeks.

“People coming together to do great things is what we need to be doing every day of our lives,” Chandler said. “We need to be breaking down walls and stigmas… and what better way than by playing together.”