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Local Mardi Gras An Annual Success For Opportunity Builders, Inc.

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February 11, 2011

Let The Good Times Roll

By Dylan Roche

Local residents need not travel to New Orleans to celebrate a great Mardi Gras when there are such festivities going on right in the area! A fundraiser for thirteen years now, the Opportunity Builders, Inc. (OBI) Mardi Gras festival was in full force on February 5th, and the evening was nothing short of magical.

OBI, an organization in Anne Arundel County since 1962, helps adults with developmental disabilities find employment. “We focus on an individual’s capability to maximize their potential,” explained Leslie Prewitt, Director of External Relations. “We want to make it possible for these adults to live as full a life as possible.” OBI also helps its clients by providing a social network, where they can make friends and gain independence.

Mardi Gras is the largest fundraiser OBI organizes every year. Not only does it raise funds and awareness for OBI, it is also a night that promises entertainment and excitement. “It’s just a fun night; the money raised is used to help us with our operations,” said Prewitt.

Decorated by thirty to forty volunteers, the OBI warehouse is magnificently transformed into a carnival of sights and sounds. There are areas for dancing and dining, with music provided by local cover band Pet Rock. A casino section is complete with roulette tables, slot machines, and bingo games. Additionally, there are even silent auction tables that feature everything from wine, jewelry, luxury cooking appliances to gift baskets and hotel reservation. The tantalizing buffet tables are filled with appetizers, dinner, desserts, and there is plenty to drink from wine to coffee.

In attendance are many of OBI’s clients and families. Individuals serviced by OBI are diverse in their endeavors and have the opportunity to pursue many positions. Diana Kootsikas, whose parents once thought she would never be able to walk or talk, began as a volunteer at Marley Elementary School and is now employed as a monitor in the cafeteria. “Being with the kids is the best part,” says Kootsikas.

Rick Saffran, who has been with OBI for twenty years, currently assembles boxes for United Stationers and loves the community network OBI provides. “I’m among my own friends here,” he said, “and I can socialize when there’s no work to do.”

Margaret Holmes, a member of the board, is a parent of one of OBI’s clients. Her daughter, Lindsey, is supported by OBI in an endeavor to start her own business called Lindsey’s Message Service. Lindsey calls with reminders about appointments to help businesses operate more efficiently. “It’s the personal touch,” said Holmes.

Indeed, Carol Ann McCurdy,Mardi Gras committee member, receives appointment reminders from Lindsey and speaks highly of her service. “My husband, who is a board member, always appreciates the call from her,” says McCurdy.

Anyone who missed out on Mardi Gras this year should mark their calendars for the next annual celebration. Also keep a lookout for other fundraisers that OBI has throughout the year; up next is a golf tournament in June. To learn more information about OBI, the community can access their website at

Photos by Patricia Taylor

CLICK HERE for additional photos from the Mardi Gras!

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