What's All the Fuss About Mindfulness?

Employees and educators are increasingly turning to this practice to conquer stress and burnout.


Published:

Sara Tiexido, who with business partner Ann-Marie Lavelle offers mindfulness classes at the Mind Body Spirit Healing Room at Ignite Your Light Coaching in New Castle County.//Photo by Eric Ruth

 

Next time you’re at work, find yourself a comfy chair, shut off your computer and your phone, and close your eyes for a moment.

Now take a deep breath, letting every muscle relax as the air slides softly back out. Inhale again, focusing entirely on the act of breathing, letting those nagging thoughts of deadlines and duties drift quietly away, like leaves floating on a stream.

As you follow the soothing rhythm of the breaths within you, begin to let your senses embrace everything around you—the chatter in the hall; the steady tick of the clock on the wall; the aroma of lunch drifting up the hall. Feel how the seat cushion presses against your body; how the sunlight touching your cheeks feels so warm.

You are now living in the present moment—for once in your long, hectic, hassle-filled working life.

In time—maybe even this first time—you will begin to feel a sense of calm as you breathe. Within weeks, and all through the day, you find that your peace of mind no longer seems to be held captive to thoughts of tomorrow’s stresses, and yesterday’s regrets. You discover a new way of approaching problems, handling challenges—accepting them for what they are, resolving them with greater assurance, and enduring their presence with less pain.

This is what mindfulness does. This is the simple-yet-powerful practice that for many people seems to offer a virtually cost-free prescription for our increasingly unmanageable lives, our unrelenting workplace stresses, and our vanishing capacity for appreciating the here and now.

And, more and more, big companies are catching on to its benefits.

From Google to Aetna and in workplaces around the state, mindfulness is an increasing part of employee wellness programs, and workers’ peace of mind is now a more critical element of management philosophy. Corporations have realized that happier employees are more productive and profitable employees—and, as a consequence, less likely to leave, or take sick days, or stumble into conflicts with coworkers.

“After six weeks, people report increases in personal achievement, decreases in stress, and decreases in elements of burnout that are outside their personal control,” says Michael Mackenzie, assistant professor of health behavior science and director of the Mind Body Behavior Laboratory at the University of Delaware, where mindfulness programs are spreading across campus following Mackenzie’s research on staff volunteers.

An employee at the University of Delaware practices mindfulness.//Photo by Eric Ruth

Google, which offers a corporate mindfulness training program called Search Inside Yourself, reports remarkable success in changing workers’ outlooks. Before taking the program, 58 percent of clients reported feeling emotionally drained by work. Afterward, it dropped to 24 percent. Performance, focus and effectiveness jumped 32 percentage points, and there was a nearly 40-percent increase in leaders’ ability to maintain their calm and poise during challenging moments.

Locally, those kinds of results—along with vocal employee demand—are inspiring a heightened concern for staffers’ peace of mind, especially in high-stress, high-burnout professions such as health care. At Christiana Care, meditation training—along with yoga and tai chi—is part of the resources available at its Center for Provider Wellbeing, a companywide effort aimed at preventing burnout among doctors and other caregivers faced with agonizing life-and-death matters.

“We’ve seen improvements in healthcare team collaboration, as well as improvements in difficulties that disproportionately impact healthcare professionals, such as compassion fatigue and burnout,” says Dr. Heather Farley, director of Provider Wellbeing at Christiana Care. “Additionally, we have observed other advantages that improve our organization’s ability to care for patients, such as a reduction in turnover and increased productivity.”

At Beebe Healthcare in Lewes, mindfulness workshops for employees are underway, with steady expansion planned.

“I think that the whole concept of mindfulness has become a lot more urgent” as provider burnout becomes more of an issue, says Rita Williams, health coach with Beebe Wellness. “There’s definitely a movement.”

That movement has inspired a young Wilmington entrepreneur to take mindfulness training on the road with his business startup. Called FLYOGI, Jason Infante’s on-demand mobile mindfulness service has held sessions for bankers and kids alike, though he acknowledges meeting more caution in the corporate world than in schools. “We’re not there yet—Delaware likes its conservative routines,” he says. “A lot of our work has been trying to spread the word to potential clients, show them the benefits—happier employees, and increase in morale, and especially an increase in patience and tolerance.”

FLYOGI is an on-demand mobile mindfulness service.//Photo by Eric Ruth

Educators also increasingly see mindfulness as an effective solution to the conflicts and stresses that face our youngest in the school setting, one that can resemble the workplace in terms of interpersonal challenges and deadline-oriented tasks.

“It gives them that opportunity to be aware in the moment, so they can choose what to do, rather than go right into reaction mode,” says Infante, whose company has held training at local YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, and even exclusive St. Andrew’s School.

In the Brandywine School District, children as young as 5 are now getting a daily dose of mindfulness thanks to Mark Overly, principal of Carrcroft Elementary. Inspired by a friend who is pioneering mindfulness in Texas schools, Overly has implemented “mindful moments” into the daily routine—from the chaotic arrival of buses in the morning to those dreaded moments when a student is called to the principal’s office.

“The huge difference I’ve noticed is when kids come to my office really upset, they’ve now been taught some coping skills: What does it feel like to be calm? How do you make yourself calm? Now they have skills where they can get calm and I can talk to them about what happened,” says Overly, who is now helping introduce the practice to other elementary schools inside and outside of the district.

Since starting the effort, Carrcroft has seen discipline referrals drop sharply. Overly is convinced that today’s schools simply must reach beyond academics and teach young people the skills needed to cope with life as well.

“We’re finding a bigger need for social and emotional learning to also happen in school,” he says, especially in a system that seeks to be inclusive of at-risk children from unstable homes and neighborhoods.

And the lessons of mindfulness are being embraced by the teachers as well. “We find that teachers can get burned out. Every day, we just take in other people’s problems. We have to be aware of that, and the need to treat ourselves, self-regulate ourselves,” Overly says.

The stresses can be no less gripping on UD’s seemingly idyllic campus, where the mindfulness movement is getting a solid push from administration and staffers. The university’s “Be Well Udel” employee wellness program now incorporates mindfulness training, and even the youngsters who attend UD’s children’s programs are getting their meditative moments.

“Six, seven years ago, mindfulness was not even a word being spoken,” says Beth Finkle, UD’s director of employee health and wellbeing. “Today, employees are much better advocates for themselves and there is far more focus on a work-life balance.”

Already, the mindfulness movement is spreading from department to department. In the fall, that mindfulness training will be offered to the community as part of UD’s leadership offerings, and Finkle has hopes that the university’s outreach will eventually include parents, students and even victims of violence.

“I feel mindfulness is really opening these doors to prevention,” says Finkle, who has also worked with the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce to bring mindfulness training to small businesses. “Employees are also really buying into this because they see it can help reduce healthcare costs.”

CSC's new headquarters//Photo by Eric Ruth

In other instances, the benefits of an improved mental outlook can be achieved without mindfulness necessarily being part of the equation, businesses believe. At CSC, a 118-year-old Delaware firm, its ultra-modern new headquarters near Greenville included elements designed to foster contentment, cooperation and calm among its staff of 700-plus—including a comfy “sunken living room” work area, “social cafes” on all three floors, a walking path through a meadow and naturally lit workspaces.

“It’s amazing how a change of scenery can improve one’s state of mind,” says Kristyn DiIenno, CSC’s human resources manager. “Every day I look forward to coming to work.”

Mindfulness programs allow workers to internalize that fresh outlook, giving them a resiliency and perspective they may have never known they had, experts say. “It’s a practice that lets you change the way you react to your thoughts,” says Lisa Rector, director of educational services at Minds Over Matter, a Rehoboth-based provider of mindfulness training in area schools.

“By nature, we tend to be negative thinkers—it’s part of our genetic makeup,” adds Karen Barwick, founder of Minds Over Matter. “But it doesn’t have to be that way—you learn that through mindfulness.”   

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April 2018

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View map »


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More information

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Cost: FREE

Where:
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View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE

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View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE

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View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
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View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

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View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE

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View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

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Cost: Included with general admission ($5-20)

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View map »


Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
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Contact Name: Information and Tours
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View map »


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Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

More information

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Cost: free

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Sponsor: Cordrey Companies
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Website »

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Try practicing yoga in a beautiful garden setting, strengthening your body and spirit. Our yoga class is open to all levels. We will practice slow, easy motions to get into the rhythm of nature....

Cost: $10

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800-448-3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

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Rosemary Castiglioni – Still lifes and interiors painted with a subtle palette; Jim Gears – Vibrant, impressionistic landscapes in oil applied with a palette knife; Richard Hoff – Detailed...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

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THE UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE LYNN HERRICK SHARP AWARD EXHIBITION A Group Exhibition March 31 - April 26, 2018 OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, April 6, 2018, 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop The Delaware...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

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THE UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE LYNN HERRICK SHARP AWARD EXHIBITION A Group Exhibition March 31 - April 26, 2018 OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, April 6, 2018, 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop The Delaware...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

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THE FIGURE: THE INDICATIVE AND THE ALLUSIVE Group Exhibition  April 1 - August 26, 2018 Opening Reception: Friday, April 6, 2018 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop with Panel Discussion: 6 - 7 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

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THE UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE ALUMNI INVITATIONAL A Group Exhibition March 31 - April 26, 2018 OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, April 6, 2018, 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop, Artist talk at 7:30 PM The...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

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This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Website »

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GUARDIANS OF THE IMAGE MAKER Group Exhibition & Programs Commemorating The 1968 Riots April 6 - June 29, 2018 Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 2018                      5 - 9 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

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A needle's eye in a pond, a Greek temple in the garden, an Ottoman tent sitting on a hill—these are just a few of the inspirations for our upcoming, first-ever outdoor exhibition Follies:...

Cost: Included with general admission ($5-20)

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800.448.3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

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TRANSIT by Maryanne Pollock January 27 - April 26, 2018Opening Reception: Friday, February 2, 2018 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop On Art:  Wednesday, February 21, 2018 | 5:25 - 6 PM Maryanne...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

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Thursday, April 26, 8:00 p.m. Gore Recital Hall David Rose was born in Regina, Saskatchewan and there began his early musical education and violin study. At the suggestion of his first teacher,...

Cost: $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
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Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

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East Coast Garden Center presents: The Spring Festival!  We love celebrating the Spring season, and we invite you to join us! The weather warms, plants break dormancy, and Sussex County becomes...

Cost: free

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd.
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Sponsor: Cordrey Companies
Telephone: (302)945-3489
Contact Name: Christine Justice
Website »

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Rosemary Castiglioni – Still lifes and interiors painted with a subtle palette; Jim Gears – Vibrant, impressionistic landscapes in oil applied with a palette knife; Richard Hoff – Detailed...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

THE FIGURE: THE INDICATIVE AND THE ALLUSIVE Group Exhibition  April 1 - August 26, 2018 Opening Reception: Friday, April 6, 2018 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop with Panel Discussion: 6 - 7 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

GUARDIANS OF THE IMAGE MAKER Group Exhibition & Programs Commemorating The 1968 Riots April 6 - June 29, 2018 Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 2018                      5 - 9 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

A needle's eye in a pond, a Greek temple in the garden, an Ottoman tent sitting on a hill—these are just a few of the inspirations for our upcoming, first-ever outdoor exhibition Follies:...

Cost: Included with general admission ($5-20)

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800.448.3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Glory of Stories introduces young visitors to art and the Museum through a story reading followed by an interactive tour of relevant works of art and a studio art project. This program encourages...

Cost: Free to Members, $5 per child and one adult free for Non-Members

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Calling all Doodles!  Pack up your owners and head for Dewey Delaware for the Annual DoodlesinDewey ~ a fun filled time on the beach at a low-key "funraiser" for Food&Friends, a DC based...

Cost: $10-25 suggested

Where:
Dewey Beach
Saulsbury St
Dewey Beach, DE  19971
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Sponsor: Food&Friends
Telephone: 301.467.5523
Contact Name: Amy Scott
Website »

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Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
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Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

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Our thoughts and our stage turn to music, mayhem and marriage with the multi-Tony nominated "The Wedding Singer". Shows are at 8pm on April 27 and 28, and May 4 and 5.  There are 2pm...

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
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Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-1172
Website »

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Night Ranger, the band that invented the power ballad of the 1980s, brings its classic sound to the SugarHouse Casino Event Center on Friday, April 27, at 9 p.m. Tickets for the band’s 35th...

Cost: $29-49

Where:
SugarHouse Casino
1001 N. Delaware Ave
Philadelphia, PA  19125
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East Coast Garden Center presents: The Spring Festival!  We love celebrating the Spring season, and we invite you to join us! The weather warms, plants break dormancy, and Sussex County becomes...

Cost: free

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd.
Millsboro, DE  19966
View map »


Sponsor: Cordrey Companies
Telephone: (302)945-3489
Contact Name: Christine Justice
Website »

More information

Rosemary Castiglioni – Still lifes and interiors painted with a subtle palette; Jim Gears – Vibrant, impressionistic landscapes in oil applied with a palette knife; Richard Hoff – Detailed...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Girl Scout Junior Not just a pretty face! With the Winterthur Garden as a laboratory, earn the Flowers badge while discovering how flowers function and recording your experience in a garden...

Cost: $12

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington , DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800.448.3883
Contact Name: Information & Tours
Website »

More information

A needle's eye in a pond, a Greek temple in the garden, an Ottoman tent sitting on a hill—these are just a few of the inspirations for our upcoming, first-ever outdoor exhibition Follies:...

Cost: Included with general admission ($5-20)

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800.448.3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

More information

THE FIGURE: THE INDICATIVE AND THE ALLUSIVE Group Exhibition  April 1 - August 26, 2018 Opening Reception: Friday, April 6, 2018 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop with Panel Discussion: 6 - 7 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

GUARDIANS OF THE IMAGE MAKER Group Exhibition & Programs Commemorating The 1968 Riots April 6 - June 29, 2018 Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 2018                      5 - 9 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

Maker Fest Enjoy a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement. This event features demonstrations from area makers showcasing...

Cost: Admission is $10 for Adults, $5 for Hagley Members and Youth 6-18; under 6 free

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Sponsor: Hagley Museum & Library
Telephone: (302) 65802400 x 238
Contact Name: Jessica Eisenbrey
Website »

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Water is Life Kenya is hosting its annual Water Walk fundraiser Saturday, April 28th at the Newark Reservoir. Funds raised will help complete Water is Life Kenya's clean water project in Kuku, a...

Cost: 10.00-25.00

Where:
Newark Reservoir
Old Paper Mill Road
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: Water is Life Kenya
Telephone: (302) 894-7335
Contact Name: Colleen Leithren
Website »

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Girl Scout Daisy Take a step on your Flower Garden journey during this fun-filled exploration of the Winterthur garden. $10 per girl.

Cost: $10

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 180-044-83883
Contact Name: Information & Tours
Website »

More information

Discover the thrill of printmaking inspired by nature. Using spring plants and simple materials, students will explore the possibilities of organic and geometric compositions with layered shapes...

Cost: $80 Members, $100 Non-Members

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Calling all Doodles!  Pack up your owners and head for Dewey Delaware for the Annual DoodlesinDewey ~ a fun filled time on the beach at a low-key "funraiser" for Food&Friends, a DC based...

Cost: $10-25 suggested

Where:
Dewey Beach
Saulsbury St
Dewey Beach, DE  19971
View map »


Sponsor: Food&Friends
Telephone: 301.467.5523
Contact Name: Amy Scott
Website »

More information

Saturday, April 28, 2018 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm Wilmington Country Club 4825 Kennett Pike Wilmington, DE   Guests will enjoy a four course seated dinner prepared by award-winning chefs...

Cost: Call for sponsor opportunities.

Where:
Wilmington Country Club
4825 Kennett Pike
Wilmington , DE  19807
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Sponsor: Meals On Wheels Delaware
Telephone: 302-656-6451
Contact Name: Jennifer Halliday

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38th Annual Rare Plant Auction® at Longwood Gardens A benefit that enriches urban neighborhoods through the power of plants. Join us at the 38th Annual Rare Plant Auction® on Saturday, April...

Cost: $125-$600

Where:
Longwood Garden
1001 Longwood Road
Kennett Square, PA  19348
View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Center for Horticulture
Telephone: (302) 658-6262
Contact Name: Lenny Wilson
Website »

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Clark Wilson from East Liverpool, Ohio, is a favorite and master with silent films.  He is the house organist at the Ohio Theater and has recently been appointed to the Music Department staff of...

Cost: $20 Adults, $10 Students, Groups Call 302-995-2603

Where:
John Dickinson High School
1801 Milltown Road
Wilmington, DE  19808
View map »


Sponsor: Dickinson Theatre Organ Society
Telephone: 302-995-2603
Contact Name: Bob Dilworth
Website »

More information

Our thoughts and our stage turn to music, mayhem and marriage with the multi-Tony nominated "The Wedding Singer". Shows are at 8pm on April 27 and 28, and May 4 and 5.  There are 2pm...

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-1172
Website »

More information

Saturday, April 28, 8:00 p.m. Loudis Recital Hall Cap off the day-long Steel Band Festival (in Puglisi Orchestra Hall beginning at noon) with the featured festival concert.   There is no...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loudis Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

More information

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