Good Fun for a Good Cause

by Feb 13, 2023South Brunswick

Brunswick County Literacy Council’s Mardi Gras celebration benefits literacy of many forms in Brunswick County.

Mardi Gras comes early for Brunswick County Literacy Council at its second annual Books, Beads & Brew fundraiser, set for Sunday, February 19.

The fundraiser features costume and mask contests, raffles, food and live music. Brunswick County Literacy Council (BCLC) board member Denise Williams says the change to Sunday from the actual Mardi Gras date the following Tuesday is to give people a fun activity to do on a Sunday during the winter.

“We want to bring more people in and have it during the daylight so people can enjoy the afternoon,” she says. “It’s open to families.”

A tent, live music from the Sea & Sand Band, food from Beyond the Bayou and a cash bar at Makai will all blend to make a perfect outing. Cost of advance tickets is $40; at the door tickets cost $45.

Richard Skorny, president of the BCLC board, says the Mardi Gras spirit permeates the event and brings awareness to the importance of literacy.

Carolyn Norm Dinwiddie Brunswick NC

“Literacy unlocks the door to future success,” he says.

Statistics at the council’s website show that 26 percent of North Carolina adults older than 25 years of age have not graduated from high school, and 28 percent of adults live below the poverty line because of their lack of education.

Melissa Warren, executive director of the council, says many residents do not realize the extent of the services the council offers.

“Services we provide to Brunswick County residents go far beyond reading and writing,” she says. “The first question people ask is, ‘What do you do?’”

She lists them:
Help adults learn to read or improve their reading and writing skills, including classes for English as a second language
Help people prepare for and pass their GED (general educational diploma)
Provide financial and computer literacy classes
Offer citizenship classes for anyone wanting help preparing to take the test to become a U.S. citizen

Megan Carolyn Judy Joe

“All of our classes are free of charge to Brunswick County residents, and they are all one-on-one with a volunteer tutor,” Warren says. “I want people to know that illiteracy in Brunswick County is a silent epidemic.”

She explains it’s estimated that 17 percent of adults in the county are considered functionally illiterate.

“People are ashamed that they can’t read their bills or understand contracts or help their children and grandchild with homework,” she says. “When we have parents who read, we get children who read. It puts people at an advantage for higher paying jobs and skills, which puts our entire county at an advantage.”

The ticket price for Books, Brews & Beads includes chicken and sausage jambalaya with a dinner roll that Kenny Wright prepares at his Beyond the Bayou food truck at Makai. He also will offer his standard menu.

The 11-member Sea & Sand Band will play live music and donate its fee to the council.

“We don’t take any money for ourselves,” says band member Jack Phillabaum. “We cherish the charities in Brunswick County, and we want them to benefit. The council will get a minimum of $750 from us.”

Teddi Altreuter Winner BBB NC

He adds that the band raised $35,000 in 2022, and in the eight years since it formed, it has raised $500,000.

The money from Books, Brews & Beads will fund the council’s programs and operational costs.

“This will keep our doors open so we can provide services free of charge to the community,” Warren says.

Want to go?
Brunswick County Literacy Council’s Books, Beads & Brew
Sunday, February 19, 3 to 5:30 pm
Makai Brewing Company, 5850 Ocean Highway W., Ocean Isle Beach
Advance tickets, $40 at or (910) 754-7323; at door, $45
More information: