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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Four fundraisers produce four different results

(May 21, 2015) A flood of fundraisers descended upon the northwest part of the county last weekend, raising money for a local child advocacy group, an organization protecting area waterways, a nonprofit providing affordable housing for struggling families, and an arts council looking to raise awareness for its programs.
While each event had an entirely different tone, and consequently different outcomes, the common theme appeared to be that all four are likely to happen again next year, if not much sooner.
Last Friday at 5 p.m. the seventh annual Pirate Party set sail at Sunset Grille in West Ocean City. By now, this event, which raises money for the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program, is a well-oiled machine and the turnout proved that once again.
CASA Volunteer Coordinator Maria Cusimano said the weather helped boost the large turnout for the event.
“It was a great night and a perfect temperature, so I think that really brought some people out,” she said. “One person said they really enjoy the Pirate Party because it kind of kicks off the summer for them. It’s the last big event before everyone gets ready for the summer.”
Just before sunset, a massive pirate ship carrying costumed members of Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services, which houses CASA, pulled into the dock at the restaurant. Executive Director Steven Taylor climbed to the ship’s fighting top and addressed the crowd, thanking the attendees while occasionally ad-libbing obligatory pirate speak.
The ship was donated by Duckaneer Pirate Ship Tours in Ocean City.
Cusimano had just finished her first week as a CASA intern when she attended last year’s event, her first. This year she had a much bigger hand in the planning and execution of the Pirate Party.  
“Last year, I really didn’t know what was going on. It was very interesting,” she said. “Now that I understand it, I think it’s a great event. We’ve made more and more money every year, so we’re hoping we made as much money as last year [at this year’s event], or more.”
An hour later and less than a mile away, Assateague Coastal Trust held its second annual Toast to the Coast at the West-O Bottle Shop & Bar. A much more informal happening, the event included beer, wine and rum tastings, food samples from area restaurants, and a few off-the-cuff discussions about the group’s work on behalf of coastal bays.
Development Director Steve Farr said the event exceeded expectations, drawing more than 50 people “from a variety of different relationship levels” with the organization.
“We saw some new folks, some old friends, it went really well,” Farr said. “Everyone had a good time, and I think they enjoyed the casual and informal atmosphere.”
Farr said SweetWater Brewing Company, who joined with ACT during the event and poured samples, were also pleased with the turnout.
“That was the kickoff event for our partnership with them, so we’re excited,” Farr said. “They have a broader campaign that they’re implementing with local waterkeepers called ‘Save Our Waters,’ and we’re going to be doing at least two more events over the course of the summer with them.”
Toast for the Coast will likely return again next year, Farr said, if not sooner.
“We called it the ‘second annual’ because it’s been about a year, but if it seems appropriate we might even do another one in the fall because it went so well,” Farr said. “They’re very generous with their time and their resources at West-O Bottle Shop.”
On Saturday morning, the Worcester County Arts Council held its inaugural 5k Race/Walk for the Arts in Berlin.
The event started and ended at the council’s gallery building, looping through the downtown area, and the price of entry included a one-year membership with the nonprofit.
“It was wonderful,” Executive Director Anna Mullis said. “We had a gorgeous morning and wonderful weather and lots of people showed up. We had runners of all ages from kids to seniors. We really had great community support.”
Mullis said more than 40 people took part in the race.
“It was just a great event,” she said. “The committee is going to meet and we’re still awaiting final fundraising details, but we thought it was a successful event and we think we’ll probably continue next year.”
Burley Oak, inspired by its collaboration with the Atlantic Hotel during a series of posh fundraisers for Habitat for Humanity of Worcester County, held its own Habitat fundraiser on Saturday at the brewery grounds.
Like the ACT event, Burley Oak’s fundraiser had a casual atmosphere, with food trucks set up on the perimeter of the property, makeshift versions of games like corn hole and Twister, and guests enjoying beer tastings from the brewery’s craft beer line.
The returns fell short of the $22,000 goal of the event, but organizers hope to continue working with Habitat, and workers at the brewery have already pledged their help during the construction phase of the home.
“There was a lot that we were up against and next year we will have to really investigate the date,” Burley Oak General Manager Nicky Chavis said, adding that roughly 140 people took part in the event. “We will continue to work toward our goal through various fundraising for Habitat for Humanity of Worcester County to help build a home. You can still purchase shirts at the brewery and online for $20 and pint glasses for $5, where all of the proceeds will go to Habitat.”
Chavis added that future fundraisers at the brewery were already in the works.
For more information on the organizations mentioned in this article visit (CASA), (Assateague Coastal Trust), (Worcester County Arts Council) and (Habitat for Humanity of Worcester County).