Cultsha…. what?

•June 19, 2012 • Leave a Comment

If you live in or near Richmond, you have the chance, this weekend, to help Offering with much-needed funds without spending a dime! Offering and Arts in the Alley are participating in the Cultsha Xpo – the nonprofit arts and music trade show at the Science Museum Saturday, June 23 (10am-5pm). The Cultsha Xpo is a trade show (organized by local nonprofit CultureWorks) where 75 arts-focused nonprofits, including us, will each have a creative booth. At the Xpo a mystery amount of CultshaBucks ($10-$100, in $1.00 bills) will be provided (FREE) to every registered Cultural Shareholder (registering is also free). CultshaBucks can be used just as real cash during the Xpo to buy things at each booth or to make a general donation and will be exchanged for real dollars to benefit the nonprofits after the day is over.

How you can help:
1. Plan to attend on June 23 – even if you just stop by, get your Cultsha Bucks, and deliver them to our booth .
2. Spread the word – information about the event can be found here and here.

It would be a great help to us if as many people as possible came out to support Offering and Arts in the Alley…. we badly need money for paint and supplies and sound equipment. Plus, it will be a fun event for you! Please note that if you are short on time you are more than welcome to come to the Science Museum between 10-5 on Saturday, come to our booth, and give us your bucks :) . And yes, the event is very kid-friendly!

Painting a better future!

Offering/Arts in the Alley



doughnuts and paint

•February 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

What do doughnuts and paint have in common? Selling yummy Krispy Kreme Doughnuts helps Offering raise money to beautify a part of Church Hill with murals at Arts in the Alley!

Arts in the Alley aims to revitalize inner-city and downtown neighborhoods by cleaning up and revitalizing alleys and streets that are currently in disarray, making them into safer places for residents, schools, and businesses and transform the alleys into a bright, outdoor mural gallery.

We’re taking orders between now and Monday February 28, and your doughnuts will be available for pick up Wednesday March 2! To order: send $8 per box via paypal to (with a note: doughnuts)! Of course, you can also send a good old-fashioned check for the amount to Offering, P.O. Box 35423, Richmond VA 23235, but paypal is preferred :).

And of course, help us spread the word! We need to sell 100 boxes to get the best price, and if we sell those 100 boxes we make $500 for paint – about a third of what we need, so that will be a big help!

Changing our world, one alley at a time. Will you help us raise the money for the paint to do that?

adventures in liturgy

•February 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Last Sunday we led worship for a small Episcopal church that several of Offering’s support volunteers attend. Most of us band members are from non-liturgical churches, so this tends to be a special treat for us. Liturgy, to me, feels fresh probably *because* I don’t worship through and with it on a regular basis. I recently started reading an amazing book called Common Prayer – a liturgy for ordinary radicals, co-written by Shane Claiborne. A quote that touched me from the introduction:

“Participating in the liturgy of the worldwide Christian community , whether on a Sunday morning or at another time, is more than attending a service or a prayer meeting. It is about entering a story. It is about orienting our lives around what God has been doing throughout history. And it is about being sent forth into the world to help write the next chapter of that story.”

There is something so powerful about praying prayers like the Sanctus (Holy, holy, holy), and reciting the Nicene Creed (I believe in God the Father…). It’s not that, as protestants, we *don’t* use either in our worship experiences. But I think we often do not realize the sense of  community that these prayers, these statements of faith, are being prayed and proclaimed by Christians all over the world at any time during the day. They often date back to the very early days of the Church. So, I am grateful for the reminder, and am looking forward to celebrating more in this way in the months and years to come.

a very special Valentine’s celebration

•February 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment

A few days ago we played a concert at MCV’s Hospital Hospitality House (HHH) – we do that every year around Christmas time, but wanted to add an “around-Valentine’s-Day” concert to the mix. HHH provides lodging and non-medical services to families and individuals in medical crisis – providing a “home away from home” at a time that is absolutely crucial in their lives. It’s a wonderful place, and every guest I have ever spoken with says so. But it can also be a lonely place – you’re far away from home, you’re under intense stress, and you don’t have your extended family or friends around you for support. Add to that mix a holiday geared towards love and fun and celebration like Valentine’s Day and you have a recipe for a not-so-happy day. So, last Friday Offering went to HHH, bringing food, some Valentines for people to take to their loved ones at MCV, and playing music.

We did not really do anything extra-ordinary. At all. We brought some dinner (chicken wings, drumsticks, strips courtesy of the *amazing* manager of Applebee’s in Chester – also the father of our violinist; salad; different type of chips; sodas; and homebaked cookies – all wonderful but nothing extravagant, just what we could pull together) and we played some music (some love songs, and some just-for-fun songs). The extra-ordinary ones, that would be the patients and their families.

A man who had just had a liver transplant three weeks earlier and who is there with his wife and (adult) daughter. They are so grateful. And yet, it is hard. Hard for the daughter, who misses her own family, several states away. Hard because they are in a city that is unfamiliar for them, where there’s no family and friends. They have been at HHH for two months, and will be there for another three at least.

The couple from Mexico that does not speak English. And it so happens that no one that night spoke Spanish. Except our keyboard player, and so she talked a bit with them. I tried, too, with hands and feet and the remnants of six years of junior high and high-school Latin. I know how lonely it can be if no one speaks your language (my native tongue is Dutch) and that is *without* the stress of life-threatening illness and harrowing treatments.

The woman who was wearing a mask to prevent infection, she was going through some sort of transplant procedure. Her entire life is MCV, and HHH. She cannot go out, go anywhere. For months. No matter how wonderful HHH is, those walls *do* start closing in.

The woman who sat in the dining room with two of her friends. Her husband had died that afternoon. Her grief was palpable, and yet she took the time to thank us. My heart is still breaking for her.

They are the extra-ordinary ones. They are the heroes. We, the Richmond community, can do these non-heroic simple things. Make a meal. Bring a salad. Bake some cookies. Play some music. Be there. Because we can, and because we need each other. HHH has a lot of people who help, but they need a lot more. Want to bake cookies sometime?

Early mornings or how we keep Starbucks in business

•January 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I got home around 11 after a wonderful evening at Positive
Vibe Cafe, and because of needing to take care of our dogs/prepping
for this morning/winding down for the day did not get to sleep
till, oh, about 1:30 am. Needless to say, when my alarm went off at
5:15 this morning it was accompanied by some grumbling on my part.
And it ensured that our first stop was at Starbucks once we left
the house. I am immensely looking forward to this morning’s service
(the pastor, Spencer Dillard, and I have been planning it for quite
a while. But I am also grateful for the coffee God provides so I
can, you know, wake up :). Happy Sunday, everyone! Jeanine

positive vibes

•January 15, 2011 • 1 Comment

I am writing this sitting at one of our favorite places – Richmond’s Positive Vibe Cafe – getting ready to help them celebrate their sixth anniversary. Positive Vibe is an interesting place – both a fantastic and fun restaurant as well as a non-profit that trains people with disabilities for work in the restaurant world. It is the brain child of Garth Larcen and his son Max. Max has muscular dystrophy, and when I arrived at the Vibe about an hour ago, I found out that Max had been hospitalized for the past few weeks and that neither Garth nor Max would be able to be there tonight. Pneumonia,especially, is a winter risk for Max, and he has been fighting it once more this January. Being here tonight is bittersweet, because Positive Vibe *is* Max and Garth, and as all the musicians who are playing tonight (five bands, no less), we are sending positive vibes to Max and Garth. Your courage and your perseverance inspires us, and we hope to be able to celebrate with you again – SOON!

An unexpected treat

•December 17, 2010 • 1 Comment

Two nights ago I found an appeal via our website from an employee at the Department of Public Utilities – the band they had booked for their annual Christmas lunch had canceled because of the threatening inclement weather and now they were left in a lurch. She happened to have seen an announcement for our concert at MCV’s Hospital Hospitality House next door to their offices, and remembered our name and website. And she was wondering if there was any way we could help.

I love the heart and flexibility of our band. It’s one thing for me to jump on this and say yes – after all, this band is my passion, and I am the one who pioneered it – but I love, love, love the fact that immediately three of my other band members said no to the event. Why? Because they were available. Because they could. To me, it’s the “ministry of showing up” – the power of being somewhere when the need presents itself.

So this afternoon we played. We met some great new friends. We celebrated all that is good in life, we celebrated the beauty of the Christmas season, and we sang Silent Night in just another city office building, and for a moment, it was a holy place.