Mystery, Intrigue Promised at OCEF Fundraiser

Mystery, Intrigue Promised at OCEF Fundraiser

From left, Education Foundation Secretary Cathy DiMarco with Jeff Shirk and his wife and Education Foundation fundraiser co-chairwoman, Jennifer Shirk, and the other co-chairwoman, Heather James, at a fundraiser last year. (Courtesy Jennifer Shirk)

By Maddy Vitale

Two organizations are joining forces to host an exciting night that involves action, intrigue, mystery and, not to mention, great food and drink.

The Ocean City Education Foundation (OCEF) and the Ocean City Theatre Company (OCTC) will host a Mystery Dinner Theater centered around a pretend Irish wedding. The fundraiser will be held Friday, April 12 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Josie Kelly’s Public House, 908 Shore Road in Somers Point.

“It is a mystery where a $10,000 gift to the bride and groom was stolen,” explained Heather James, an OCEF board member and co-chairwoman of the event, along with fellow board member, Jennifer Shirk. “The wedding becomes a crime scene.”

Guests are encouraged, but it is not required, to wear what they would if they were attending a real wedding.

Tickets are $40 per person. The ticket includes a buffet dinner, dessert and coffee. There will be a cash bar, raffles and, of course, the entertaining show by the OCTC.

“It should be a lot of fun. It is a different type of fundraiser,” James said. “The foundation wanted to try something different to attract the crowds.”

Each year the OCEF hosts two fundraisers and accepts donations from the community. The money goes to teachers in the form of mini-grants to purchase items used in the classroom. Everything from iPads to desk cycles have been purchased by the district with the funds.

This year, James and Shirk said the funds would go toward wellness initiatives in the district.

Proceeds of the event will benefit the wellness initiatives in the school district. The Ocean City High School has a wellness center.

Shirk noted that the education foundation would like to provide funds for school officials to develop a wellness center at the Ocean City Intermediate School. Funds would also go to other wellness programs in the school district including workshops for young adults.

Performers from OCTC liven up the crowd with a song from their show “Xanadu” in October on the steps of City Hall. OCTC Founder Michael Hartman is in blue shirt at right.

Shirk and James credited Michael Hartman, the founder of the OCTC, for coming up with the unique theme.

“What is really nice about this event is we are partnering with the theatre company. They will perform the show,” Shirk said. “Teaming up with the company is just really nice. It shows how two local organizations come together for the common good. It is just really nice.”

Hartman said he is looking forward to the collaborative effort.

“I am thrilled to see two great community organizations working together to make an impact on the students of our town,” he said. “This collaboration is going to be very unique, super fun and hopefully very successful. It is an honor for OCTC to join forces with the Education Foundation.”

James said the foundation members selected Josie Kelly’s because it is a great venue with a lot of room and good food.

The event will be held in the banquet room. “It will be an awesome space for a wedding theme. We anticipate it will sell out with about 200 people attending,” she added.

The Education Foundation, comprised of 30 members, is still actively seeking sponsors to help support the initiatives.

On March 29 the foundation will be recognized by the New Jersey Education Foundation at a ceremony for Outstanding Small Education Foundation, Shirk noted.

Sponsors receive a mention on a banner that will be prominently displayed at the fundraiser.

Tickets may be purchased through the Ocean City Education Foundation website at or through a, OCEF board member.

For more information visit or view information on the foundation’s Facebook page. People may also call Heather James for more information at (609) 425-6245.