Bedazzled benefit

Building up to Minot’s annual Downtown Festival on Main Street this coming Saturday, 2nd Story the Minot Social Club For Exceptional Persons will be displaying 10 decorated birdhouses at various business sponsors.

The birdhouses will be sold off in a silent auction over the course of the festival, with proceeds going to fund the club’s activities.

The handmade birdhouses had been donated to them some years ago by the late George Raub, a local woodworker and artist. In the past, 2nd Story’s fundraiser coinciding with the Downtown Festival had been a rummage sale, but the recent expansion of apartments above the club has subsequently restricted space in the basement where they normally would hold that event.

Enter the idea to sell the birdhouses. Indecorous in themselves, the 2nd Story’s director, Alayne Okland, tracked down a number of local artists interested in giving them a little jazzing up. The club’s board of directors meanwhile found no trouble rounding up some area businesses to sponsor the pieces.

Participating artists have the freedom to do as they will. So far, the results have been inventive and aesthetically pleasing, alternately featuring zippers, pennies, dominos and the like. The finished birdhouses are treated for seasonable outdoor use or else indoor display, standing at around 4 feet in height.

“This is our 38th year,” Okland said of the club, but the first it has raised money selling artsy aviaries. With 335 active participants, 2nd Story is touted as Minot’s only social club for adults with developmental disabilities. While membership costs nothing, 2nd Story receives no state or federal funding for its activities.

Clubbers get to come together for a solid variety of activities, like karaoke, softball games, outdoor activities, group discussions, dances, arts and crafts, and various game tournaments. These planned events are announced in monthly calendar form, which the club sends out with its newsletter. From 2 to 9 p.m. every weekday and Saturday, members can drop in any time they like to socialize, play a bit of pool, use the computer or otherwise hang out.

“The members, they love it,” Okland explained. “This is their club.”

Apart from the odd grant and a number of fundraisers held each year, a good amount of the club’s supplies and funding come from walk-in contributions and monetary donations sent in from local citizens. For its more specific needs, the club also runs a wish list every Sunday in The Minot Daily News, usually in the newspaper’s E Section under “Events.”

“That’s pretty much how we survive,” she said, adding “we rely on the goodness of people every day.”

2nd Story isn’t only fun and games; members also participate in service projects such as periodically cleaning Main Street. “People are so good to us, we want to teach them to give back,” said Okland. Most importantly of all, the club helps foster a sense of independence and self-sufficiency in its members while providing them with a place to form lasting friendships.

Located at 13-1st Ave. SW, 2nd Story also keeps a website that can be checked out at (