The generosity of our local community was truly awe-inspiring over the last two months as community members gave selflessly to ensure that everyone had a happy holiday season. While we love seeing the outpouring of support during the holiday season, it’s important to remember that community support is needed all year long. We have our eye on several upcoming philanthropic events, particularly the First Annual Red Doors Gala and Art Auction, to be held this Saturday, January 10 at Fager’s Island.
“The fundraiser means everything to Red Doors,” said Red Doors Community Center Director, Fawn Fitzgerald Mete this week. “Our mission is to provide enrichment opportunities in mind, body, and spirit, to members of the community, particularly children. We do this through arts and science programs, including computer programming, robotics, chemistry, ballet, hip hop, jazz, contemporary dance, music classes, yoga, drawing, painting, crafting, cooking, photography, and more. We charge for our programs, but we subsidize the costs of programs, try to offer things for free when possible, and grant about $2000 a year in scholarships to local children who wish to participate in our programs but have a financial need.” Proceeds from the Gala and Art Auction will support all of these endeavors, with money to be allocated primarily to support the Red Doors operating budget. The budget helps to provide funding for administrative costs, equipment and supplies, as well as free programs such as the weekly Yoga by Candlelight, which is offered every Sunday at 7pm.
The Gala is this Saturday, January 10 at 6pm at Fager’s Island in Ocean City. Featured artwork will include works by Kevin Fitzgerald, Patrick Henry, David Simpson, Randy Hofman, Evan Fitzgerald, Jeffrey Auxer and Ralph Hastings. Live music will include Jazz Pianist Robert Mete, Bargain Scotch, and Full Circle. Wine, beer and spirits will be available, as well as food from a variety of area restaurants including Fager’s Island, Si Culi, A Touch of Italy, BJ’s on the Water, Seacrets, Sunset Grille, Wockenfuss, Captain’s Table, Mother’s Cantina, and many more. Tickets are $125; black tie optional.
“We are kicking off 2015 by initiating our first major fundraiser,” said Mete. “A small committee of parishioners has worked for 10 months to plan this event and we have high hopes. We are very honored to have so many fantastic local businesses and restaurants sponsoring and supporting the event.”
The Red Doors Community Center is an outreach of the St. Paul’s By-the-Sea Episcopal Church. According to Mete, in 2012 the church board voted to create the community center, with the understanding that the church would support the center for the first few years with the director to eventually initiate fundraising efforts to offset costs. The Gala and Auction are the first major fundraising initiatives for the center.
Most of you likely remember the devastating fire in November of 2013 that took the life of St. Paul’s Father David Dingwall and caused major damages to the building. “Father David Dingwall led the support for creating the Red Doors Community Center, so his death was a terrible loss to our leadership,” said Mete. “The grieving, rebuilding, and recovery process has been difficult, but due to the support of the church and the families that attend Red Doors programs every week, we were able to resume the operation of our classes and programs almost immediately and have continued to grow throughout 2015. We are just now opening areas of our building back up, including our downstairs classroom and office space as well as the actual church sanctuary. Everything has to be replaced. We lost use of 75% of our physical space for over a year, the Red Doors director’s office, and all equipment and documentation was lost in the fire, every item that was in our Children’s Room, including instructional materials for our classes was disposed of in case of contamination from smoke.”
While insurance will cover many of the costs, not everything is covered. In addition, Mete and the Community Center members want to see new growth in 2015. Plans for a new Code Camp class are in the works, which will feature a series of Saturday intensive computer science classes in partnership with the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore and the Worcester County Department of Economic Development. Students will learn to develop their own apps and video games. Mete added that they also hope to expand their robotics program to include Lego Mindstorms and to teach more engineering and technology concepts. Dance programs are also popular at Red Doors, with classes available year round. Mete would like to see more performance opportunities, guest instructors and special events with the added funding. “As a nonprofit outreach of the church, we rely entirely on program fees, donations, and the support of St. Paul’s By-the Sea,” said Mete.