The Klub is now an NPO

Best known for aid to 2SLGBTQ+, organizers have plans to help out in more than 20 underserved groups of people

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Things are going well for Katrina Francella and The Klub despite the need to put in-person programming on hold for more than a year now.
The Klub has achieved its goal of registering as a nonprofit organization, making its status official. Francella and The Klub might be best known around town for Rainbow Klub, the group for 2SLGBTQ+ youth, but the organization has registered more broadly as a community wellness centre.
“Our focus is on wellness for marginalized groups and bodies,” Francella told Sault This Week. “Oftentimes people are confused as to what we do at The Klub because there is such a wide range in programming and target audience, and there’s a reason for that.
“We’re hoping to fill the gaps of service that exist for community recreation in Sault Ste. Marie. We’re hoping to create more access to those who might not have it, as well as specifically tailoring our programs to serve underserved groups.”
Those underserved groups include 2SLGBTQ+, BIPOC, newcomers, those affected by mental illness and substance use, those with intellectual and physical disabilities, and other groups experiencing systemic oppression, Francella said. 
The Klub hasn’t been able to offer in-person programming for over a year aside from a few that it ran during the brief period that lockdown restrictions were lifted. Those included youth fitness programs in partnership with the Indian Friendship Centre and programs for children in partnership with the ArtSpeaks Project and Breton House.
“We also had one small live music night at The Klub for that brief moment when lockdown lifted,” said Francella. “He was a turntablist. I remember that night, looking at the crowd and seeing folks enjoying the music – six feet apart, of course, and masked – but it brought tears to my eyes, because it was what I had hoped for The Klub,” she said.
“It brings so much joy for me to be able to host and not being able to do so at full capacity for the last year has truly been heartbreaking.”
It has been difficult not offering the programming, but Francella is grateful for this forced stop because it allowed her to reassess how The Klub was working and take the steps needed to move forward with her goals for the service.
“When I was in the constant hustle and bustle of playing over six roles, I found it hard to focus on building our board, creating bylaws, and finishing the application,” she said.
“Thankfully fellow community worker and advocate Nicole Dyble assisted me in starting the process, and from there we gathered our three board members that we knew were going to be able to support us the most, and then from there we started to build our bylaws and procedures,” she said.
Much of the work that Francella, Dyble, and their board members have been able to complete has been thanks to a $25,000 grant the organization received from Women & Gender Equality, which allowed them to hire professionals for consulting, pay youth for their input and work, and purchase equipment such as a laptop.
Francella is happy to be at this point because, as she pointed out, last August she was very close to losing her space and having to close down The Klub. She had been operating her fitness classes out of the space to pay for the programming she offered, but due to pandemic restrictions, had not been able to run classes to pay her rent.
“It was at that moment that Jeff Greco heard that we were in trouble. He asked what our month’s rent was, and his company, Cavera, paid for our entire month’s rent,” said Francella. “That is also when others began to donate to maintain The Klub’s operational expenses over COVID as a part of our #SaveOurSafeSpace campaign.”
Those donors, along with the federal government’s rent subsidy program, has allowed Francella to secure The Klub’s space until June 30, though Francella admits that things might get more difficult again once the subsidy runs out.
The Klub’s board has focused on planning and fleshing out the organization’s bylaws and procedures so it has not yet given full attention to fundraising. It hopes the community will continue to support it by making donations. For Pride month, the board hopes to raise funds at donorbox.org/pride-at-the-klub specifically for Rainbow Klub programming and operational costs.
“Some companies have reached out to let me know that they are doing campaigns over June for Pride to donate to us,” said Francella. “Mane Squeeze; Mother North Studio; OC Hair, Bath, and Body Co.; Matchbox Cannabis; and Francizi’s approached us with their Pride campaigns that included raising donations for The Klub.”
Although the organization has hosted some virtual Rainbow Klub programming over the last several months, the attendance has been significantly lower than what she sees for in-person programming. The youth have told her they’re exhausted with online programs and really miss in-person events, Francella said.
“We will host Rainbow Klub programming over the summer in whatever capacity we’re allowed to,” said Francella.
“I’ve been holding off on announcing what we’re doing for Pride month for Rainbow Klub in hopes that we’ll be able to meet in person, outside, in small groups, instead of having to host virtually.”
Francella gets phone calls almost weekly from a parent or service provider asking about Rainbow Klub and when it will offer in-person programming. “It’s heartbreaking that I haven’t had a good answer for them and that programming is limited,” she said.
Long term, The Klub hopes the Rainbow aspect will be just one of more than 20 programs offered by the organization.
“Some particular dreams I have are to continue to host spaces for 2SLGBTQ+ folk, but also those struggling with mental illness, those struggling with addiction, those struggling with eating disorders, and those struggling with their self-worth and body confidence,” said Francella. “Those are missions particularly close to my heart, and to know that this dream of a different type of community centre – I’m so glad that it didn’t die.”

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