Mustang Outreach Program holding fundraiser, looking toward future

Published 7:51 am Friday, November 19, 2021

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The Mustang Outreach Program will host the You Can Make A Change fundraiser at the Outer Banks Brewing Station on Sunday, Nov. 28 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

You Can Make A Change will feature live performances by current Mustang Outreach Program students, former student Olivia Sawtell, music director Ruth Wyand, assistant music director Amanda Williams, You Can Make A Change Super Group and local band Anchor Blazer.

The event will also include an Art & Music Christmas Tent with instruments, music equipment and art for sale to raise money for the organization.

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Admission to the event is free, but a $5 donation is requested. All donations will go toward the Mustang Outreach Program.

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The You Can Make A Change fundraiser comes at a pivotal time for the Mustang Outreach Program, as the nonprofit goes through a leadership transition while trying to recover from the pandemic and resume classes.

This fall, Michael Dianna resigned from his position as president of the Mustang Outreach Program.

“It was about nine years ago when I first began helping kids experience live music,” said Dianna. “I hoped that we could help kids find a love for music and that music would make their lives better. We have helped hundreds of local kids experience live music and I look forward to the day when MOP can say they have helped thousands of kids experience this also. As I pass the torch of leadership to longtime board member Shelli Gates, I know that day will come. Music makes the world go round and MOP will be there for a long time to make sure it does.”

Currently, Shelli Gates is serving as acting president of the Mustang Outreach Program’s Board of Directors.

Gates has an extensive background in the nonprofit world, including work with Healthy Carolinians, the Seven Sisters Foundation, Dare County Arts Council and the Motu Music Foundation. She works at The Outer Banks Hospital as a respiratory therapist, plays music as Tempest Revival and runs the music production company Boss Lady Productions.

“I am proud to say that I was at some of the first meetings when Mike was creating the Mustang Outreach Program,” said Gates. I have been impressed with the program’s growth under his leadership, and I am excited to step into this position and help continue Mike’s vision. I invite you all to come out to the Brewing Station on November 28th to see how the Mustang Outreach Program creates connections with music.”

You Can Make A Change is co-presented by VusicFest and Just For The Beach! and is sponsored by Tortuga’s Lie, TowneBank and Nags Head Hammocks.

For more information about the Mustang Outreach Program or for updates on the fundraiser, visit