"So that, in a very long-winded nutshell, is what Oasis Center does," Mark Dunkerley says in summation. Dunkerley has just spent the last 10 minutes trying to explain succinctly what the Youth Opportunity Center, the multipurpose, sprawling youth-outreach program on Charlotte Avenue, is all about. And while there might be a phrase-length summation ready for insertion into brochures and paperwork — probably something along the lines of "providing services for at-risk youth," though that hardly skims the surface — Dunkerley's enthusiasm for the subject and the program's broad scope derail any hope of a quick or easy answer.
The Nashville native and Vanderbilt graduate works in marketing for the Oasis Center, but comes across more as a super-fan of the programs housed within it. His eyes light up when he talks about the center's partnerships and programs the way some people's eyes light up when they meet their favorite movie star, whether the subject is Halcyon Bike Shop's efforts to teach kids to repair bicycles, or all the top-tier schools that have accepted students from their college-prep program. Before he was in the YOC's employ, he was just a fan of their outreach — so much so that he decided to split the profits of his Jubilee Beer craft-brewing start-up with the organization and plaster their mission all over his packaging, website and promo materials.
Did we mention the beer? It's one thing to be a really cool person doing really cool work with a really cool organization, but when you bring a crisp, smooth Nut Brown Ale into the picture, you're gonna get bumped straight to the top of our "cool" list.
Brewed by the folks at Bluegrass Brewing Co. (who make some mean suds and have loads of local ties) and available at bars, restaurants and retail locations all over the Midstate, Jubilee is one tasty brew, not to mention a great way of introducing people to a noble cause they might otherwise have missed. To hear Dunkerley tell it, the beer is means to an end, a clever way to bring people to his greater mission.
"Really, what better way to tell people about it than over a beer?" he says. We definitely can't argue with that logic, especially as we sip on our Jubilee and listen to Dunkerley explain the myriad ways the Oasis Center helps kids without being condescending single-minded service providers, or how the center's comprehensive, holistic approach to helping teens in trouble has produced some incredible results. Philanthropy by way of fermented grains is definitely the way to go.