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By Lillian Boyd

Despite the many challenges during the thick of the pandemic, Ocean Institute (OI) leadership is saying the organization was able to continue to fulfill its mission through the generous support of the community and is calling on the community again to help support essential enrichment in the 2021-2022 school year.

After closing its doors on March 16, 2020, the community rose up to keep Ocean Institute afloat and provided the resources to continue to fulfill their mission in innovative ways. Introducing virtual learning and outdoor excursions, the organization continued to reach thousands of students, including 8,000 from under-resourced schools.

“The donations and support from our community during the pandemic enabled us to create innovative virtual programs which brought education and joy into hospitals, homeless shelters, and school zoom classes during the darkest of times,” said Dr. Wendy Marshall, President and CEO of OI. “As we emerge from the pandemic, we cannot wait to return to delivering in-person programs again.  Nothing compares to getting students out on the water.”

Unable to hold the traditional fundraiser that supports the Adopt-A-Class program, Ocean Institute engaged the business community to support their Celebration of Resilience, scheduled online from May 17-22. The celebration includes an online auction loaded with dining experiences, getaways, recreation, beauty, food, and wine packages and more. All items were donated by local businesses. “We know small businesses have taken a hit. We had trepidation about asking for donations, as so many are struggling to rebuild, but we are thrilled that the response was absolutely overwhelming,” said Marshall.

Ocean Institute turned to the public to join in the fun and participate in bidding. The auction opened on May 17 and runs through May 22 at 8 p.m. The culmination of the online auction coincides with the sold-out Celebration of Resilience dinner and live auction at the Ocean Institute. Between the online and live auction, the goal was to raise $200,000 to support Adopt-A-Class.

“This is about community and winning,” Marshall said. “For us, to meet this goal is to continue our tradition as strong as ever and to punch through the pandemic with heart and humility. We know we can do this together.”

Ocean Institute is hopeful for strong participation in the online auction and that the community will recognize and support the many businesses that gave at a time that is still very difficult, Marshall added.

To view the supporters and participate in the auction, please visit


Lillian Boyd Lillian Boyd is the senior editor for Picket Fence Media and city editor for Dana Point Times. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Humboldt State University. Her work experience includes interviewing incarcerated individuals in the Los Angeles County jails, an internship at the Pentagon covering U.S. Army news as well as reporting and anchoring for a local news radio station in Virginia. Follow her on Twitter @Lillianmboyd and follow Dana Point Times at @danapointtimes.

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