Local family adds further $500k for Okanagan College Wellness Centre

Shovels could be in the ground this summer

Former local MLA Cliff Serwa and his wife Lois, will add up to another half million dollars towards the planned $14 million Okanagan College Wellness Centre.

Serwa, the co-founder of Big White Resort, had already committed $500,000 towards the ambitious project some years ago, but that will be extended by matching every dollar donated by the community up to another $500,000.

The initiative is called Serwa Spirit Match as part of the overall Thrive Here fundraising campaign.

“We’re really keen and enthusiastic about the Wellness Centre,” Serwa told Kelowna10, and not only because it will become the home for competitive rep sports teams for the first time since the college was founded 60 years ago. It will also offer intermural sports, and important recreation for all students.

“It will have a running track, and training room... and we know the educational experience is enhanced with physical exercise, “Serwa said.

Basketball, along with Lacrosse and many other sports growing up, is what motivated Serwa to stay in school.

“Sports has been not only a stress reliever but an opportunity to accomplish all the things that I’ve done from the lessons I’ve learned through sports,” he explained, noting how physical activity can help with the mental wellbeing of young adults as well.

In thanking the Serwa family for their generosity, Okanagan College Foundation executive director Helen Jackman said the new facility would become a valuable central hub at the K.L.O campus.

“We have about 7,000 students on this campus and we have no recreational and wellness facilities at all here; it’s something we desperately need,” she said. “We have new student housing opening; we have students that are still struggling with isolation and mental health challenges after the pandemic.”

Jackman said with luck construction could start as early as the summer. The college hopes to have it built by 2026.

Over $9 million has been already been raised towards the $14 million budget, thanks in large part to an extraordinary gift of $5 million from Don Folk, a long-time philanthropist and former owner of the Chevrolet dealership in Kelowna.

It's the largest gift in the 60-year history of the college and one of the largest ever single donations to any college in B.C.

To learn more about donating to the new centre, click here.

Published 2024-02-08 by Glenn Hicks

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