BTS News — December 2017

Dear Friends of Bellingham Threshold Singers,

It’s time to give you a year-end report of what your busy Singers have been up to this past year and a peep into 2018.

First of all, a few numbers, Jan. 1 – Nov. 30.  We have sung at 490 bedsides, 139 of which were visits to specific individuals in their homes, adult family homes, and larger facilities. The remaining bedside visits were made during our regularly scheduled sings at Hospice House, Stafholt, St. Francis, and St. Joseph’s Rehabilitation Center, where staff gives us a list of people to sing for.

We recently started singing twice a week at Hospice House and have made 59 visits there so far this year. We also sang at two Hospice volunteer trainings, and we also did one memorial. That’s a lot of singing!

We expect to have 41 members by January, with 32 Sails and 8 Anchors. Two of the Sails and two Anchors are new this year.

We started 2017 with a change of rehearsal venue for a while when Jerns installed new carpet, necessitating a period of airing out. We appreciate Jerns providing rehearsal space to us with no charge, and we are glad to have found a temporary space at Garden Street Methodist Church.

We began the year with our two Shipwrights (rehearsal leaders, not a small position) resigning and no one ready to take their place. Lois and Mattie took up the task, not only leading rehearsals but creating a training for new Shipwrights. Four singers completed the training, and two were chosen by the Crow’s Nest with anonymous input from members. This training is new to our group; previously the Shipwrights learned to row on their own. Carole and Wendy will start as new Shipwrights in January. We are excited!

The Crows persisted, though two had to leave due to health problems, two had to be away for long stretches, and one was temporarily limited by a broken ankle. The Nest managed wonderfully. At the annual meeting we thanked the 2017 Crows: Barb, Mac, Donna, Janis, and Andrea. Due to their wisdom and caring, 2017 was a year of innovation and dedication to becoming a better Threshold Singers.

Navigators became a new part of the organization. They are Crows with specialized roles in overseeing our trainings and guidelines (Mac) and rehearsals and repertoire (Janis). They have gotten job descriptions written for several important positions, generated best practices documents, made sure that trainings happened when they needed to, revisited our core repertoire, and surveyed the membership about rehearsals. The extended repertoire is undergoing a review as well. The work continues.

The Bosuns—Mattie, Sylvia, and Lois—mentored two new Sails and two new Anchors; many aspects of their roles, tangible and not, needed to be explained. The Bosuns will continue to help sails and anchors feel secure in their roles.

Wendy, one of our members, is a professional singer and a voice teacher. She generously led a workshop titled the Vocal Survival Kit, giving excellent advice and exercises for keeping our voices strong.

We paid attention to our Sisterhood, building strong and appreciative connections among us. Diane hosted a grand party in the Spring—a potluck with barbecued pulled pork prepared by her husband! We talked about appreciation for each us, each member wrote notes of appreciation for other Singers, to be kept in an appreciation box for each, painted and decorated by Mac and a talented crew of painters and decoupage artists. We plan to make appreciation a standard practice in the new year, and have a committee to implement that.

For the first time, we developed a ritual for honoring retiring Anchors. As Kate Munger, the founder of Threshold Choir, has said, we will all reach a time when it’s best for us to retire from anchoring or sailing. We want to properly thank retired Anchors Mary and Elizabeth for the great service they have given as Anchors. They sail on!

Another way to increase our relationships with other singers is the implementation of a buddy system. Each guest at rehearsals will have a “buddy” to help make the rehearsal experience more comfortable by answering questions, helping the guest find the songs in the songbook, and introducing them to others.

To increase input into the Singers’ activities, we had two general meetings, giving Singers a chance to talk about how they feel about any issue. This practice will continue as the Crow’s Nest appreciates hearing from members in meetings like this, as well as through surveys, by email or phone, or at rehearsal.

The third annual leadership was held, to be followed by the fourth next year.  We want to find ways to be better leaders through communication and intent.

In order to provide a mechanism to introduce new songs, a Song Lab has begun, meeting once a month or as needed, to review possible repertoire additions, either existing or newly written by someone expressly for bedside use. After vetting, songs will be passed on to the Shipwrights for consideration.

The Crows Nest looked for a venue for a NW Gathering in 2018, but canceled plans to host a gathering next year because Threshold Choir International announced that the All-Choir Gathering is now going to be held only in even years and regional gatherings are supposed to be in odd years. We were also unable to negotiate a low enough cost with the venue we had hoped to use. No decision has been made about hosting in 2019.

We tried out a new fundraising idea this year: partnering with a local business to raise money for us and business for them. Goat Mountain Pizza was very pleased with all the new customers we brought in during our afternoon with them. We raised a small amount of money with minimal effort and had a lot of fun.

Donations have decreased compared to last year, and although our bank balance is healthy, we’ll need to do some fundraising next year to continue our good work. We always appreciate donations (tax deductible), which can be made through our website or sent to our PO box (see below).

The Crow’s Nest has welcomed a new member, and we have a new President and Vice-President to start off the new year. The new line-up is: Donna Inglis, President; Diana “Mac” McKinney, Vice-President; Andrea Fenwick, Secretary; Janis Walworth, Treasurer; Diane Monsen; Barb Clearman.

Thank you all for being our Friends.

Bellingham Threshold Singers

PO Box 5303

Bellingham, WA 98227

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