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Ocean Casino Resort takes pride in its involvement in charitable donations and philanthropic endeavors at both the local and national levels. In honor of International Women's Day, it's essential that we recognize the critical role dedicated charities and organizations can play in advancing the cause of gender equality. We proudly honor and support these efforts, including two near and dear to the Atlantic City community, Adelaide’s Place and MudGirls Studios.
Adelaide's Place, which opened in 2002, provides a secure environment for women who have nowhere to go during the day. They encourage participants to engage in social interactions and programs like arts and crafts. They also provide life enhancement skills, a reading room, nutritious snacks, and nutrition classes.
Founded in 2016 by artist and social advocate Dorrie Papademetriou, MudGirls Studios started as a ceramic & clay program at Adelaide’s. Now it’s a booming non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women through education, skill-building, advocacy, and group support. They are dedicated to providing opportunities in art and entrepreneurship to economically disadvantaged and at-risk women by providing training and skills to transition out of poverty and onto a pathway of self-sufficiency. Through the creation and sale of functional art and aesthetic utilitarian objects, women will gain a source of long-term supplemental income.
We interviewed both founders, Sister Patty Prendergast and Dorrie Papademetriou, respectively, about the history of each organization and the work they currently do for women in need.
What motivated you to start Adelaide’s Place and MudGirls Studios? And what is the history between the two organizations?
Sister Patty: My history and involvement with Adelaide’s Place can be traced back to my initial work with individuals experiencing homelessness thirty years ago. Through my years of working with this population the “missing piece” seemed to be a place for women who were experiencing homelessness to go during the day. I had worked on outreach programs and a shelter with both men and women experiencing homelessness. When I began to work at a youth shelter, many of the women with whom I had worked through the years would come to visit me. I mentioned this to the leadership team of my religious order, and it was suggested that I do a needs assessment with various nonprofit and government entities in Atlantic County. Once completed, everyone agreed that there was a need for a day program just for women. Adelaide’s Place opened in 2002 in the basement of the old St. Monica’s Rectory. We eventually acquired the property of our present location on Arctic Avenue and put-up a modular building that we call home, and opened our current facility in 2007. I have been the Director since the inception of Adelaide’s Place.
Dorrie: In 2016, MudGirls Studios began in Adelaide’s Place, a day shelter for homeless women in Atlantic City. Each week, several women gathered around the kitchen table to roll out clay, making bowls, trays, plates, boxes, and decorative items. Looking forward to “clay day,” these talented soon-to-be artisans poured their heart and soul into their ceramic wares. At first, most created gifts for loved ones, unable to offer much else in their current circumstances. But in time, new designs were introduced, and the women were trained in large production procedures with a focus on producing high-quality work with great attention to detail.
As the demand increased for our ceramic wares, it became clear that MudGirls Studios needed to expand, a daunting yet exciting challenge. Today we operate a full-time, functional studio on the second floor of St. Michael's Church in Atlantic City, where we work daily. The studio provides a safe environment, job training, and life skill development through the making of ceramic arts. Participants are encouraged to explore the clay medium with an emphasis on the making of functional tableware.
What kind of training or support do the women receive?
Sister Patty: Our goal is to provide women with supportive services to improve their quality of life. We offer a variety of activities and programs, including pottery lessons from the Mudgirls, bimonthly healthcare discussions with a representative from a local clinic, weekly relaxation groups with reiki and meditation professionals, social workers from various support groups around Atlantic City, board games, and arts and crafts. Thanks to a generous donation from Ocean Casino Resort we have an abundance of art mediums such as pastel pencils, watercolors, colored pencils, charcoal pencils, canvas, sketch pads, and painting-grade paper, as well as adult coloring books.
Dorrie: Soft skills – working cooperatively, being part of a team, arriving on time, dressing appropriately, finishing each task, and cleaning up at the end of the day. All of these are components of job readiness. The women also learn hard skills associated with creating high-quality tableware and tiles out of clay, including preparing the clay, rolling it out uniformly, cutting, shaping, molding, stamping, and finishing, followed by glazing.
What kind of ceramic pieces do they create at MudGirls Studios?
Dorrie: Bowls, mugs, plates, vases, pitchers, serving platters, and tiles are just some of the items MudGirls Studios makes. Our Tileworks Projects have showcased entire wall galleries of our ceramic artists’ work and can be seen in the Atlantic City Development Corporation building, two decorative installations at Stockton University, and the South Jersey Gas Administrative Headquarters.
How has the success of Mudgirls Studio impacted and empowered these women?
Sister Patty: The success of MudGirls Studios has impacted the women of Adelaide’s Place and other women in the community by giving them a purpose in their lives and has helped them to appreciate and discover their individual talents. MudGirls receives referrals from other agencies as well as Adelaide’s Place. We partner with MudGirls by providing the items they need to create their art.
Dorrie: The most important impact of the organization is the change in the lives of the people we touch. We have established a safe environment surrounded by positive role models from whom the MudGirls are able to learn valuable life skills. A core part of our work is to offer a meaningful art experience to those who are most often forgotten in our society—the homeless and the poor. We provide a nurturing setting for women to gather and train them in the production of ceramic artwork. Participants are encouraged to explore the clay medium with an emphasis on making functional plates, trays, mugs, and tiles.
What has been the most rewarding part of your work with Adelaide’s and Mudgirls? How has this work changed the lives of the women it serves?
Sister Patty: The most rewarding part of the work we do is sharing each day with the women who come to us. They bless us with their individual gifts, talents, and uniqueness. We provide a welcoming place and offer hospitality that is caring and genuine. A quote that is a guide for us is: “Be careful when offering hospitality to strangers for one might be entertaining angels without even knowing it” Hebrews 13:2. The stories of each one of the women we serve are filled with hardship and pain, but much wisdom from where they have been and where they are going. They are truly hopeful individuals who empower themselves and us with their personal stories.
Dorrie: Last year B., who had been using heroin and sleeping under the boardwalk, got a full-time job at a local casino in housekeeping. M., who had been homeless, now has her own apartment. T., who dropped out of high school at 17, earned her G.E.D. and has applied to community college. J. is now in sober living and has been accepted at Stockton University. D. has graduated from MudGirls to full-time employment at the Boys and Girls Club in Atlantic City. These are just a few of our success stories!
How has Ocean's support of each organization helped the women of Atlantic City?
Sister Patty: Ocean Casino Resort chose Adelaide’s Place as one of the Charities for Change in 2022, and has since supported us with a donation of over $24,000. The support of Ocean Casino Resort has helped these women know they are cared for! They are grateful for this as it contributes to their sense of self-worth and dignity as human beings. This in turn encourages them to work on a plan for their lives going forward, whether that be for permanent housing, taking care of health needs, or seeking other types of assistance.
Dorrie: Large installations are important to MudGirls Studios. They take time and require planning, cooperation, and skilled workmanship. When we have big projects we can employ an optimum number of women. We are currently working with Ocean on several projects.
What do you think is the most important lesson that can be learned from the success of your organization?
Sister Patty: The most important lesson learned from the success of Adelaide’s Place is the kindness and generosity of individuals, houses of worship, and businesses in the Community who provide us with the kind of support we need to operate each day. We are only successful because of this support and the belief in our mission. The partnerships we have with local organizations like colleges, social service agencies, the Atlantic City Police Officers, and the business sector are what enable us to continue to be successful.
Dorrie: Everyone deserves another chance!
How can people get involved in supporting your work?
Sister Patty: People can support us directly through the Adelaide’s Place website, becoming a Community Partner, joining our upcoming events and fundraisers, or making a PayPal donation. Every bit of support counts and is greatly appreciated!
Dorrie: Come to our workshops, purchase our beautiful tableware, donate to our cause, and spread the word about our mission! Visit our Get Involved page for more information.
The commitment to empowering women, supporting those in need, and advocating for gender equality is more critical now than ever. As Ocean Casino Resort celebrates International Women's Day, let us all join hands and work together towards a world where women are valued, respected, and treated as equal members of society. We encourage everyone to support their work and donate to help make a positive impact in the lives of women in Atlantic City and beyond.
Adelaide’s Place. Sister Patty Prendergast https://adelaidesplace.org/
MudGirls Studios’ Dorrie Papademetriou. https://www.mudgirlsstudios.org/founder-designer