South Jersey Non-Profit Holds Largest Annual Fundraiser
For over 36 years, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center has served as the only dedicated mammal stranding facility in New Jersey.
"Our mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and release any stranded marine mammals or sea turtles along the New Jersey coastline or any waterways in New Jersey," said Jill Romano, Director of Marketing and Development.
The Center was founded and is still directed by Robert Shoelkopf and his wife, Sheila Dean. It is located in Brigantine, which borders coastal New Jersey's largest wildlife refuge.
Since 1978, they have responded to over 3900 strandings that have washed ashore, funding the operation all on their own.
"We're completely reliant on donor support, so we don't receive any federal or government funding," Romano said.
They continue to deal with the fallout from last year's Unusual Mortality Event, when hundreds of dolphins washed up on the shore from morbillivirus.
"It was a huge strain on the budget because we are going out and responding to all of these rescue calls," she explained.
This Sunday, October 5, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center hosts the 3rd Annual 'Dancing with Dolphins' event at One Atlantic inside the Pier Shops at Caesars in Atlantic City.
"It's our one big gala event, so we're really hoping to pull in some great money, especially since funding is down," Romano said.
The gala usually draws between 100-150 people, but Romano is hopeful to build upon those numbers even more.
"The goal of the 'Dancing with Dolphins' event to not only help us raise money, but to help raise awareness about what we do," she said.