Concert to benefit Janesville shelter

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Ann Fiore
Wednesday, May 7, 2014

JANESVILLE—You see and hear some of them in church every Sunday, and their music has become a familiar part of your worship experience.

But at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 18, guitarist David Ortman, singer Kellie Pearson, pianist Thelma Wilcox and others will perform at a very different venue: the Janesville Performing Arts Center.

The occasion is Shelter Me, a musical fundraiser for the GIFTS Men's Shelter, which was started by local churches in 2007.

Teresa Nguyen, a singer and guitarist at St. John Vianney Catholic Church, has volunteered at the shelter with her sons. She's coordinating the music for the fundraiser and will perform with sons Anthony, a multi-instrumentalist, and Benji, a drummer.

“It's been an eye-opener,” Nguyen said of the shelter. “When they asked me, there was no question I would do this. I thought it would be perfect to help in a way that I can.”

The May 18 lineup features musicians—worship leaders and others—from eight churches: Asbury United Methodist, Bethel Baptist, Emmanuel, Roxbury Road Church of Christ, St. John Lutheran, St. John Vianney Catholic Church, St. William Catholic Church and Trinity Episcopal.

They'll play a wide range of music, from pop to folk to blues.

“There's a lot of spiritual music but also some blues, and there are original songs,” Nguyen said. “It's a variety. It should be very cool.”

Drywater Productions created a short documentary about the shelter, which will be screened at the event. Also planned are a raffle—winners take home a half cow or $500—and a Bucks for Beds fundraiser, in which people can sponsor a new cot.

GIFTS, which stands for God Is Faithful Temporary Shelter, rotates among the local churches. It offers homeless men meals, beds, hot showers and spiritual fellowship October through April.

Last October, it opened a resource center to help the men work on regaining their independence.

As of the 2013-14 season, the shelter had served 125 different men, provided more than 4,700 shelter nights, served more than 9,470 meals and logged 13,500 volunteer hours, according to GIFTS statistics.

The shelter is funded by donations, and its board recently decided to supplement that with fundraising.

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