The biggest news of the past quarter is that 10 women completed our first Compassionate Singing class, and two are already new sails — they are going out on sings with experienced anchors and sails to get their feet wet. The class was conceived by and taught by Janis Walworth, assisted by all our anchors, with the intent of bringing more women into the group to be trained as sails. Six rehearsals and six class sessions later, they are well on their way. The class, which covered a repertoire of 20 songs plus information on how the Singers operate and the special considerations of singing for our clients, will be repeated in the Fall.
There are plenty of opportunities to sail. We sing weekly at Hospice House, and every other week at Stafholt, Bellingham Health Care, Vineyard Haven, Orchard Park, and St. Francis, and answer individual calls. At one time, when we were called to sing, we would do a first sing, and then leave it up to the client and caretakers to indicate that they wanted us to come back — now we ask if they would like us to come back on a regular basis, and more often than not, the answer is yes, which increases the demand. From January to the end of April, we have had 200 sessions with clients. In addition to that, we made presentations to a WWU class and the Kiwanis Club, sang at the Center for Sacred Change, participated in a service at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, set up an information booth at Bellingham Farmers’ Market on May 3, and sang at two memorials. We will be singing at Colleen O’Rell’s memorial at the end of this month.
We plan to participate again in Senior Day at the Park, August 6 at Hovander, where we have had a booth and sung for anyone who wishes for the last two years. Later in August, we hope to take part in the Skillshare Faire, also at Hovander. We will have a booth at the Art of Death exhibition to be held in October at the Majestic. We have been asked to sing at their Friday evening artists’ reception and also on Saturday.
Training is a top priority for us as we strive for perfection in our singing technique and to bring excellent singing to our clients. For example, Dr. Benjamin Chang, a local practitioner of Chinese medicine, visited one rehearsal and shared techniques for breathing, grounding and preparing the body to sing, which our singers found very valuable.
The Regional Threshold Choir Retreat is coming up in September near Portland. This is a great opportunity for our singers to connect with singers from other threshold choirs, to learn from directors from around the northwest, and to hear from the founder of the Threshold Choir movement, Kate Munger. Kate is retiring at the end of this year, and we don’t know if she will continue to be active. We hope to have a sizable contingent from our Bellingham group in attendance.
Five members are on the Crow’s Nest, meeting each month, to plan for the future and the present. Diana Campbell joined the Crows Nest last fall, bringing a depth of experience in publicity, editing, writing and management of nonprofit organizations. She is a non-singing member, but her vast experience, which we need, far outweighs that. The Nest decided that there are many ways a person can be involved in BTS besides singing.
We have many volunteer opportunities for those who wish to donate their time. Tasks range from those that can be done at home with a computer or a phone to others that require being at rehearsals. Some are time limited, while others could be done indefinitely if you desire. To inquire about volunteering, call Janis at 927-4384.
Our financial picture is bright. We continue to receive donations from grateful families, as well as from our members and others who value our service. We function as an all-volunteer organization, which permits us to use the major part of our budget for training our singers. We continue to meet gratis at Jerns, and are so grateful for this gift.
Our website, bellinghamthresholdsingers.org, offers comprehensive information about the Singers and allows us to accept donations via PayPal. We also have a Facebook page where we post relevant articles. Find us at facebook.com/bellinghamthresholdsingers and like us!
Thank you for your interest and support, and know that you are welcome at rehearsals, which are on second and fourth Tuesdays, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., at Jerns Funeral Chapel at Sunset and James.
Editor: Mary P-K, 734-7872