"The vision actually started in 1998. August. As I was driving by this building, it was screaming out it needed to be a cultural center. And look where we are now," said Betty Magee, as she traced the history of transforming an old school into a cultural center.
Magee heeded those screams and pursued the dream nine years ago. She was the point person in a plan that brought new life to a decaying old school building.
The Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center is now a thriving facility which features art appreciation through changing exhibits and ongoing education.
"Everything here at the Mary C. seems like it was meant to be. Even if you thought about stopping, it doesn't let you," said Magee.
The center itself remains a work in progress. Five classrooms are finished, with eight more on the way.
"It means a lot to this community. It's so wonderful to have it coming back," said curator Joey Rice.
She says artists are especially proud of the center. It gives them an opportunity to share their creativity, like the Bill Meyers exhibit that opens with the fund raiser this weekend.
"It's a great place to show your work. It's a wonderful place to teach. And to take classes and meet people who are very interested in doing things," says Rice.
The former public school, built in 1927, is now as vital as ever, thanks to those who pursued their passion. Restored, revived classrooms are still places where lives are touched.
"They can enter the door and not have an idea about how it is going to change their life. And all of a sudden walk out with a smile saying, 'I'm so thrilled that I came here'."
The chocolate ball fund raiser is this Saturday, April 21st. Tickets are fifty dollars a person.
You can order tickets by calling (228) 818-2878, or you can purchase them at the cultural center at 1600 Government Street in Ocean Springs.