A Platform For Performers Amidst a Pandemic

Finley Fairfield, Staff Writer

If you were ever a student at MSK, chances are you remember the IB Community Project we were assigned in the eighth grade, tasked with identifying a problem in our community and finding a way to lessen it. For most, these projects ended the minute eighth grade did, but for Mary Hauser, it’s continued for 3 years, and will hopefully continue for many years to come. 

A junior at KHS, Hauser has always had a passion for music, planning, and helping others. She combined all three of these passions for her IB Community Project when she set up the Kennebunk Coffee House. Hauser says that one of her biggest goals was to allow an opportunity for middle school and high school music students to interact, as well as simply spreading the love of the arts while helping Doctors Without Borders.

To top it all off, this project doesn’t only benefit our own community. Hauser donates all of the funds to Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières, a cause not constrained by political borders or government funding, that provides medical aid to places that need it most. Hauser has raised over $1,500 for MSF. 

In a normal year, this event takes place on a Saturday night in the High School cafeteria. Musicians of any type have the opportunity to perform in front of a small crowd, with coffee and snacks on hand. I actually got the chance to sing in the 2019 Coffee House, and I was amazed that Hauser managed to transform a place so cold and ominous as a high school cafeteria into a beautiful little hideout, with fairy lights draped along the walls, candles on each table, and a set of microphones at the front. Due to the beautiful set up of the space, Hauser says the hardest part of planning the event is the aftermath, normally spending 90 minutes on cleaning with the help of parents and performers. 

This year she won’t have to worry about the event clean up, since 2020 threw a wrench in her plans. Instead of the cozy, in-person event, Hauser asked all people participating to instead send in videos of their performances, compiling them into a virtual event. With fewer participants this year due to the virtual nature, Hauser says there’s talk of a sequel later in the year for students who may not have known about the original event, though this is yet to be confirmed. An even more impressive aspect is that Hauser is confessedly “not great with technology”, which I have to disagree with. Even through a virtual platform, Hauser managed to create a supportive and welcoming environment, and I hope everyone takes the time to view it.

With Hauser graduating next year, the big question is how she plans on keeping this event alive when she’s off in college. She says she’s “hoping that it’s maintained,” and is even looking for underclassmen to collaborate with next year in order to keep that possibility. “The needs remain the same every year,” Hauser says. “Musicians always need support, especially with the pandemic.” And, in regards to Doctors Without Borders, “there are natural and man-made disasters every year, never stopping.” So to any 8th graders working on their IB Community Projects, or any underclassmen with the urge to help not only our community but communities worldwide, reach out to Mary Hauser. She’s looking forward to working with you. 

The virtual event can be found here and donations to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières can be made here.