Needless to say, 2020 has been challenging for our organization as with all other non-profits and for-profits alike. What started out as great year winning the Main Street of the Year Award from the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce, quickly took a turn when we closed our doors due to COVID-19. However, while our doors may have closed, our work never stopped. Understanding the magnitude of what our community and world was facing, we instinctively knew it was our responsibility to stop fundraising efforts and provide only free art programming as a means of diversion, education and expression. We held several virtual concerts, hosted the Ocean Springs Public School talent shows, provided online art instruction with Carmen Lugo, and mailed 100 Curated Crates to our members. We endured the Spring and were thrilled when the Mississippi Department of Health allowed us to open for Summer Camp. We were even more thrilled to still be in a financial position to offer scholarships for our summer camps! We are proud to say that every single student who applied for a scholarship this summer received 100% tuition paid by our organization. We served 205 students this summer with ease thanks to everyone’s adherence to the strict COVID-19 rules we implemented. Just as we were about to wrap up a wonderful summer, we unfortunately received news that the City of Ocean Springs canceled our Management Agreement of the building we called home.
That brings us to today where we can announce that our organization is moving. The Land Trust of the Mississippi Coastal Plain has welcomed us to their beautiful Twelve Oaks property in Ocean Springs. Beginning September 1, our arts programming will be at this NEW location at 1112 Hanley Road. Please also be on the lookout for exciting upcoming culinary programming all along the Mississippi Gulf Coast with our current family of instructors!
The Twelve Oaks Unit of the Old Fort Bayou Coastal Preserve is a little more than 30 acres conserved in perpetuity by the Coastal Preserve Program, dedicated to effectively preserve, conserve, restore, and manage Mississippi’s coastal ecosystems to perpetuate their natural characteristics, features, ecological integrity, social, economic and aesthetic values for future benefit. The beauty of this location coupled with the beauty of their invitation and hospitality toward our organization is exactly what the Friends of The Friends of Mary C O’Keefe need as we take our “Mission in Motion.”
At this time, we need to call upon our members both past and present to recommit to your love of arts and culture and what The Friends of The Friends of Mary C organization does to bring that to our community. If you are in a position to do so, please consider renewing/purchasing a membership or making a donation. Any donation over $250 directly contributes to our Scholarship Fund mentioned previously, but no donation is too small as we move out of our “home” of 18 years and transition to Twelve Oaks.
1600 Government Street has been a wonderful home to the Friends of The Friends of Mary C organization, and we leave it with the same spirit of friendship and generosity to which The City of Ocean Springs, the building’s owners, offered us for the past 18 years. We have decided to gift the “Ocean Springs Museum of History” back to the City and trust they will protect it and foster its growth. We understand the public and tax payers have more questions about the fate of the building, and we regret that we can’t answer those questions. Please know that we stand ready to help the City of Ocean Springs with any future plans they have in store for the building we have loved so dearly.
We would like to thank the R&B Feder Foundation for their generosity as we move forward in this new chapter. Lastly, THANK YOU to our patrons and the entire community for the outpouring of support which has allowed us to remain focused on our Mission and protecting the many artists who make a living producing arts programming through our organization. Please look to our website and social media for details on our classes, and be sure to watch your mailboxes for our newest Curated Crate that will be mailing soon!
The Friends of The Friends of Mary C O’Keefe Cultural Center
Please feel free to call or email directly with any questions or concerns:
Our MISSION is to instill a love of learning, encourage creative expression, and enrich lives by providing educational, artistic, historical and cultural experiences.
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