Acoustic concert series to benefit St. Andrew’s Hospitality House
By Marissa Bond
The Las Cruces Bulletin
Not all visitors to Las Cruces come in the happy flush of guest and traveler. For some people, it is cold circumstance bringing them to our sunwarm valley. Unpleasant events demand energy and resources, and sometimes, there is not enough of either.
St. Andrew’s Hospitality House, a non-denominational guest house being built by St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, will help bridge the gap between need and resource by providing short-term housing for families with hospitalized relatives in Las Cruces who do not have the means to stay in a hotel.
The idea for the hospitality house came from one of St. Andrew’s parishioners, who was living in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and had to evacuate. She went to Longview, Tex., where she had a relative in the hospital. No hotels were available, but there a local church ran a hospitality house near the hospital.
“She thought this was the greatest thing, and that St. Andrews would be a great vehicle when she moved here and retired to Las Cruces,” said Neal McMillan, a member of St. Andrew’s vestry.
Not only sparking the idea, she provided the initial funding to purchase the property where this house is being built. With the property purchased, the church hopes to begin construction in the early fall and open the house in winter of 2016.
“We’ve got our drawings, our plans made, we’re getting quotes now from contractors and subcontractors,” McMillan said.
A dilapidated house already on the property had to be taken down, so McMillan said it was very important that the design of the hospitality house be cohesive with the surrounding neighborhood.
“Everyone who has seen (the design) has been happy to see that we are staying in the architecture style of the neighborhood,” McMillan said.
The hospitality house will have space to house four families. The building will have four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a common area, a small kitchen and a washer and dryer — large enough to meet needs and provide comforts.
McMillan said the house will serve people from out of town who can’t afford to stay in a hotel room for the length of stay that their loved ones are in the hospital or other care facility within the Las Cruces area. Other extenuating circumstances will be considered on a case-bycase basis, at the discretion of the church clergy.
McMillan and Nelson said the church has been in good communication with Mountain View Regional Medical Center (MVRMC), which they say is very supportive of the project. Based on the need in the community, Nelson said the hospital workers expect the house to be full all of the time.
MVRMC’s enthusiasm for the project extends to providing refreshments for the concert series.
The St. Andrew’s Acoustic Concert Series, a benefit series for the hospitality house, overlaps the ideas of benefit and beneficiary, bringing support to the nonprofit, the artist and the Downtown art scene, and enjoyment to people who appreciate acoustic talents.
The next event in the series will start 7 p.m. Saturday, July 18, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church Parish Hall, 518 N. Alameda Blvd., and will feature Native American/ World music performed by Randy Granger. Granger’s talents have been featured in commercials, films, documentaries and Native American and World music festivals. Granger has been nominated for and won many awards — among them, the Indian Summer Music Awards, Native American Music Awards, New Mexico Music Industry awards and the U.S. Songwriting Competition.
“I’ve been to his shows and really enjoyed them — I think they are very powerful, very moving shows, so I was kind of hoping against hope he would be free and say yes, and he did,” said Sharon Nelson, series organizer and St. Andrew’s parishioner.
The upcoming concert is the third in their series, having previously featured artists Mark Courtney and Sarah Williams. On August 15, this year’s concert series will close with a performance by Bob Diven.
“We just scheduled for over the summer. It’s kind of an experiment,” Neslon said. “When I was visiting some relatives on the East Coast, I went to some of these coffeehouse-style shows that I guess are very popular in a lot of the churches back east. And I thought, ‘Oh, this is just the neatest idea,’ because there is so much talent in Las Cruces, and there’s not a lot of venues for these people who play smaller, acoustic-type stuff.
“I approached our parish priest, Scott Ruthven, and said, ‘I think we could do this as a fundraiser in conjunction with the hospitality house, maybe — do some profit-sharing with the artists.’ And he loved the idea, so we scheduled the series and are giving it a try. I’d like to do more, maybe starting next spring, have it be a longer series.”
McMillan said Ruthven had expressed interest in reaching out to the Downtown community.
“It’s a vibrant thing that’s happening, and it’s one more thing that can go on in the Downtown area,” McMillan said.
“We want to be good neighbors,” Nelson said. “We don’t want people to feel uncomfortable, that the only time they interact with us is when we are in religious mode. We are about fellowship and friendship and neighborliness also. Anybody is welcome to come to these shows.”
Funds raised during the concert series will go toward operating costs — the constant, erosive drip of upkeep. The capital campaign is continuing as well, but operating funds will be a part of a separate 501(c)3 corporation.
Tickets for the concert can be purchased at the door. Costs are $10 for adults, $8 for students, and children 10 and younger are free.
Bundled tickets are available at four tickets for $30.
For more information, call St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church at 536-6333.
Marissa Bond can be reached at 680-1845 or marissa@ lascrucesbulletin. com.