Rescuing the Rescuers

Some of our most important nonprofit service agencies are in fiscal trouble—which could mean trouble for us all. Can they change their ways? More important, can we?



Illustration by Robert Burch
www.robertburchillustration.com
















As Joan Moallem plays an old upright at the Francis X. Norton Center in Wilmington, 200 people pile in from the streets of West Center City. Many are homeless. Some are HIV positive. Others are addicted to crack. They’ve come together to share a Thanksgiving feast.

Moallem, who’s spent decades in mental hospitals battling schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, identifies with her audience. “I’ve been there and back,” she says. Her walk is slow. Her hands shake. Yet Moallem’s trembling fingers produce a nearly perfect “Oh Holy Night.”

“The music is a gift from God,” she says. “But without my group, I’d be institutionalized for life.”

The group is Connections CSP, a statewide agency that provides treatment, housing, and rehabilitation services for people with mental health and substance use disorders. Last year, when Moallem was committed to the Delaware Psychiatric Center for the third time, Connections CSP picked up her case, then provided her with a managed apartment. “I owe them my life,” she says.

Executive director Catherine Devaney McKay assumes most folks have never heard of Connections CSP. “Homelessness and substance abuse are not exactly subjects people talk about openly,” she says. Yet without such charities, nonprofit leaders agree that Wilmington’s homeless situation could mirror Philadelphia’s.

“The amount of charities that are here and the amount that goes on, on a per capita basis, is phenomenal,” says Cam Yorkston, a consultant who has guided 150 nonprofits in 32 years. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, 5,233 operate in Delaware. Of those, 2,865 are 501(c)(3) public charities. The groups fall under myriad categories, from culture to social service.

And many are in trouble. The money needed to sustain them, it seems, is shrinking. And without them, people like Moallem will suffer.

So will any Delawarean who patronizes a theater, museum, Little League, community center, hospital, college or church.

“If nonprofits cease to exist,” says Pam Cornforth, chair of the Delaware Association of Nonprofit Agencies, “we all lose.”

What we’ve had to do in the last five to 10 years is change people’s thinking to make the individual donor a larger part of the revenue stream,” says Yorkston.

The economics are basic.

“If you don’t have charitable dollars flowing in from people who care, nonprofits will not meet their operational costs, will accumulate debt and possibly go out of business,” Yorkston says. “The business of providing services then falls to the public sector. There would be more unattended homeless people in Delaware.”

Charitable giving in Delaware is unique among states. In most, individual donations make up 70 percent of all funds, with the remainder donated by corporations and institutions. Here, that figure is reversed, according to Peter Morrow, president of the Longwood Foundation: Corporations have, historically, done 70 percent of the giving. Some have curbed their giving over the past couple years. Individuals have yet to make up the difference.

Why? Most of us—66 percent of those surveyed—don’t believe nonprofits operate efficiently, according to a 2001 study by DANA. The group’s Image of Nonprofit Sector Task Force also discovered that only 19 percent think charities actually help people.

“You’re talking about people (nonprofit workers) who’ve been trained not to toot their horns,” says Audrey Alvarado, executive director of the National Council of Nonprofit Associations. Their modesty and selflessness, it turns out, has harmed them.

“Nonprofits have to tell people what it means to give, who the giving serves and why it helps,” says Valerie Pletcher, chair of the DANA task force. “We also need to do a better job of showing how accountable we are and give colleagues tools to improve transparent operations.”

“The problem,” she says, “is that there’s confusion when groups appear to share the same mission.”

For example, art enthusiasts can support OperaDelaware, the Delaware Theatre Company or any of Delaware’s 314 cultural nonprofits. Education: 49 groups. Environmental groups, such as The Nature Conservancy in Delaware: 54. Religious, like The Ministry of Caring: 536. Community improvement, such as Wilmington Housing Partnership: 156.

Large nonprofits such as the University of Delaware and Christiana Care Health System employ specialists to perform marketing functions. Smaller groups have to be creative when trying to build awareness.

When the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition throws a gala, local breast cancer survivors become star attractions, proving that breast cancer affects everyone. Faithful Friends makes pet adoption easy by taking animals to shopping malls to show them off. The Reverend Thomas Laymon himself buys radio airtime to tout the Sunday Breakfast Mission. David Amado, music director of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, is quashing snootiness by regularly appearing on cable access TV programs. And United Cerebral Palsy of Delaware gets ink as the official corporate charity of the Blue Rocks.

The duty of public relations at many nonprofits falls to executives and development directors, though most of their time is spent securing program subsidies. It’s easier to get funding for brick and mortar than it is for operating expenses. Fred Sears, president and CEO of the Delaware Community Foundation, which manages charitable funds and awards grants, says The United Way and the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee are the only groups that continually fund operating costs, unless the organization has a contract to perform services for the state, federal government or other groups.

“The vast majority of foundations will only provide funds for capital projects because they’re one-time requests,” Sears says. “Operating funds tend to be annual needs, and funders don’t want to get involved in annual requests.”

Medicaid, Medicare and the state fund Connections CSP, where McKay runs 325 units of housing and a fleet of 50 vehicles. Yet she can barely afford basic operating expenses such as gas and utilities. The nonprofit is the largest of its kind in Delaware, yet McKay did not meet capital campaign goals last year. “The total project cost was $10 million,” she says. “We borrowed $7 million. That tells you how well we did.”

The ramifications? Last year, Connections CSP served 5,000 people, most of them homeless. If the organization folded, the state would find shelter for some clients, but most would fall through the cracks.

Cornforth, of the DANA, says, “Nonprofits need to talk about the value they bring to the Delaware economy.” DANA reports that Delaware nonprofits have $9.1 billion in assets and represent 7 percent of the gross state product. “Good public awareness inspires donor loyalty.”

Robert Egger, founder and president of the DC Central Kitchen and one of the 2007 NonProfit Times 50 Most Powerful and Influential Leaders, says people in Delaware are very generous.

“But it’s rare that nonprofits get any regular media coverage, save for seasonal stories or, in too many instances lately, when there is a scandal to report,” Egger says. “In that vacuum, folks don’t get a real accurate read on how influential and important the work of the sector is in every community.”

Recent bad press—The Red Cross 9-11 problem, the Washington, D.C., United Way scandal—is one reason nonprofit leaders have to prove their effect. Groups have to rebuild consumer confidence and boost transparency by quantifying and qualifying goals. “The old model a decade ago asked how many kids came through the door,” says former United Way of Delaware president John “Drew” Langloh. “Now we need to qualify how those kids are better off.”

The Beautiful Gate Outreach Center, a nonprofit run out of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church annex in Wilmington, has served 15,000 people affected by HIV and AIDS since 2000. “It’s a mixed bag,” says executive director Renee Palmore Beaman. “We’re faith based. We have medical on site. We teach. We can quantify most things. But some of our success is intangible. And intangible isn’t always measurable.”

Intangible doesn’t fly anymore, especially at the Longwood Foundation. To win a grant, presenters must clearly articulate the uniqueness of their missions. “We need to know the details of what [nonprofits] plan to do,” Morrow says. “Then we want to know where the money will come from to complete the project. Many fall apart at that juncture.”

Beaman knows collaborations ignite public relations. By pooling resources and sharing costs, there is less duplication of services, less public solicitation for the same dollars and more money to hire shared marketing professionals.

One merger proves how communities are impacted when nonprofits join forces. The Delaware Aging Network (known as DAN), a consortium of 30 agencies, serves older adults in the areas of transportation, health care, housing and advocacy. In two years DAN has provided individual support to 1,200 people in Kent and New Castle counties. The collaboration partners Jewish Family Services, the Modern Maturity Center, the Sussex County Mobility Consortium, CHEER, Easter Seals, Generations Home Care, Kent-Sussex Industries and Nanticoke Senior Center, among others.

“We’re creative and innovative because we have to be,” says DAN executive director Susan Getman. “Our resources are constrained by various factors, while the need for our services never goes away—and often increases in slow economic times.”

Helen Berman of Dover says DAN came through when the government didn’t. When she developed a narrowing of the spine called spinal stenosis, she had to stop driving herself to physical therapy. Medicare wouldn’t cover transportation, so DAN found her a van. “These are dedicated people,” says Berman. “I have to believe they get something back.”

They get lots back, says Peter Drexler, chairman of Connections CSP. Drexler, an attorney at Barclays Bank Delaware, brings legal expertise to the group. Other board members are accountants or writers. “I’ve been fortunate,” Drexler says. “I want to give something back.”

Though nonprofits are service oriented, they must be run like businesses. “If you’re good at what you do, you’ll succeed,” Yorkston says. “ If not, you’ll go out of business.

“What makes a nonprofit successful is its ability to articulate clearly, to be succinct and, in a compelling way, make its case for support,” says Yorkston.

Sears encourages Delawareans to visit community centers to see the good they do. “You can’t resolve the teenage dropout or drug issue by arresting people,” he says. “It takes mentoring, gyms. You have to give kids hope. And the hope is coming from organizations that are barely surviving.”

“No doubt about it,” says Cornforth. “Nonprofits have stories to tell. We have to tell them better.”

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January 2017

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
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Sports Card & Collectible Show at Aetna Fire Hall on Jan. 22—sign up now! -Sports Cards McFarlane Figures Comic Books Non-Sports cards Wrestling Items Vintage Starting...

Cost: $2

Where:
Aetna Fire Hall
400 Ogletown Road
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: A2Z Promotions
Telephone: 302-983-2636
Contact Name: Bob Harper
Website »

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The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

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Belly Dance Classes with Zahra Beginner & intermediate classes open to teens and adults Sundays in January starting Jan 8th Beginner: 2:30-3:30 p.m. Intermediate: 1 - 2 p.m (must get...

Cost: $15-$42

Where:
Take the Lead Studio
320 Lantana Drive
Hockessin , DE  19711
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Sponsor: Take the Lead
Contact Name: Zahra
Website »

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The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
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Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

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Ah, typecasting—the baritone is always the bad guy! In Devils, Drunks & Dastardly Dudes, we’ll go on an operatic journey of men behaving badly. We’ll add a tenor to the mix, too… but we...

Cost: $29-$59

Where:
OperaDelaware Studio
4 South Poplar St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Sponsor: OperaDelaware
Telephone: 302-442-7809
Contact Name: Mary Wilcosky
Website »

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Come give curling a try! At this 2-hour intro-to-curling event we'll provide a basic lesson then coach you through a mini-game.  Whether you just want to cross #curling off your bucket list or...

Cost: $35

Where:
The Pond Ice Arena
101 John Campbell Rd
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: Diamond State Curling Club
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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Notbybreadalone Ministries presents Feeding the Hungry Outreach. All are welcome to come and partake of food, fun and fellowship. Those who desire a better way of life through Jesus Christ are...

Cost: Free

Where:
2nd and 3rd Streets
Wilmington, DE  19801


Sponsor: Notbybreadalone Outreach Ministries
Telephone: 442-0440
Contact Name: Ministers Wayne and Stephanie Dumpson
Website »

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Guest speakers Patty Dailey-Lewis, executive director of the Beau Biden Foundation, and Delaware Family Court commissioner Loretta Young will discuss how participation in social media can too...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilmington University - Dover
Building A Auditorium
3282 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
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Sponsor: Wilmington University College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
Telephone: 302-295-1164
Contact Name: Dr. Johanna Bishop
Website »

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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
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Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

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East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmers Market Nov 8, 2016 - April 11, 2017  11 am- 2 pm 25 vendors Location:  East Coast Garden Center 30366 Cordrey Rd Millsboro, DE 19966 302-945-3489

Cost: frr

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Sponsor: East Coast Garden Center
Telephone: 302-945-3489
Website »

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East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmer's Marke 25 vendors

Cost: Free

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Telephone: 302-945-3489
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

A four-week series of ballroom dancing classes taught by teachers from the BlueBallroom. Tuesdays starting Jan. 10. Classes are $30 a lesson for Non-Members. Non-Member slots are limited. For...

Cost: $30

Where:
University and Whist Club
805 N Broom St
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

Thursdays from 4:00PM-5:30PM Fall session: December 1st, 8th and 15th Winter session: Starts January 19th, every other Thursday until March 30th This program is based entirely outdoors and is...

Cost: Cost: $30 for TLC members / $40 for non-members

Where:
Bucktoe Creek Preserve
432 Sharp Rd
Avondale, PA  19311
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Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

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MARC BROUSSARD In 2004, Marc Broussard, then a precocious 22-year-old singer/songwriter, released his major-label debut; he called it Carencro, after the Louisiana town where he was born and...

Cost: $22 SRO- $32 SEATED

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
Website »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tutto Fresco has live entertainment every Friday night from 6:30–9:30 p.m. Call for details. http://tuttofrescode.com/

Where:
Tutto Fresco
514 Philadelphia Pike
Wilmington, DE  19809
View map »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

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
View map »


Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

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Cost: $12-$20

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


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-3396
Contact Name: Kathy Buterbaugh
Website »

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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

January 28 – Saturday – 1 to 4 p.m. Science Saturday – Truss Me, You Won’t Fall! Become an engineer for the day. Design a bridge to hold as much weight as possible....

Cost: Activities are included in regular admission and free for members.

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Hagley Museum
Telephone: (302) 65802400 x 238
Contact Name: Jessica Eisenbrey
Website »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

GRILLED CHEESE AND CRAFT BEER TASTING We have taken two of the best things on earth and paired them together – Grilled Cheese and Craft Beer – and paired them together in unexpected and...

Cost: $40

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
Website »

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Saturday, January 28, 2017 at  7:30 pm at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 763 Valley Forge Rd, Wayne, PA 19087 Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 3 pm at Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square...

Cost: Tickets are $25 online, and $30 at the door. Student tickets $10 at the door.

Where:
Church of the Holy Trinity
1904 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA  19103
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Sponsor: Lyric Fest
Telephone: 215-438-1702
Contact Name: Jessica Nelson
Website »

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Fan favorite, Dick Smith, returns to the Dickinson Theatre Organ Society concert stage on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 for a show that is sure to bring the house down! Dick Smith has been a...

Cost: $15 Adults; $10 Students

Where:
John Dickinson High School Auditorium
1801 Milltown Road
Wilmington, DE  19808
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Sponsor: Dickinson Theatre Organ Society
Telephone: 302-995-2603
Contact Name: Bob Dilworth
Website »

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The Dickinson Theatre Organ Society presents Dick Smith. For tickets, click here: http://www.dtoskimball.org/events-tickets/ticket-information/ For further information, please call us at...

Where:
, DE

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The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Cost: $12-$20

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


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-3396
Contact Name: Kathy Buterbaugh
Website »

More information

MOTHERSHIP Mothership is the area's premier Led Zeppelin Tribute show. Composed of seasoned, professional musicians Mario Padovani - vocals, keyboards, Frank Ginocchio - drums, Chris Julian -...

Cost: 15

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Website »

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