SHERIDAN — On Sunday, Luminous Brewhouse hosted the second annual Stillgiving fundraiser, founded by Elizabeth and JT Craft, to keep the Thanksgiving spirit alive into the Christmas season. The event featured live music by the Craft Brothers and Ann and Andy Lowe.
Proceeds from the event, which totaled just less than $1,000 this year, were split between Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Bighorns, the choice of Luminous Brewhouse taproom manager Kathryn Law, and the Volunteers of America Northern Rockies Christian Enhancement Program, the choice of Elizabeth and JT Craft. This was the second year the event supported the two organizations.
Elizabeth Craft said Law called the Crafts last year with an idea to hold a concert and fundraiser that would go against the consumer-driven focus of the days following Thanksgiving.
“We were talking about how you go from Thanksgiving so quickly into Black Friday, Cyber Monday, there’s always something,” JT Craft said. “And so it goes so quickly from where we’re stopping as a family and thinking purposefully about the things we’re grateful for in our lives and thankful for, and then we jump into getting in fistfights in Walmart over CDs and stuff.”
JT Craft had been aware of VOANR for a long time but learned that the Christian Enhancement Program that he saw transforming people’s lives is funded only through private donations.
“It’s the X-factor for people,” JT Craft said. “When they’re trying to work their way through struggles like that, when they’re fighting against addiction, if there’s no hope, if they don’t have faith and a belief in God, they struggle tremendously, over and over they find themselves back in this cycle. We saw people coming out of it new people.”
In addition to the proceeds raised by the performance, JT Craft hopes the event raises awareness of the Christian Enhancement Program.
“The Christian Enhancement Program is a faith-based service to the folks that are in our program,” VOANR Director of Ministry and Outreach Nick Angeloff said. “We have different programs from treatment to adult reentry from prison to normal life. And the Christian Enhancement Program brings volunteers from the community in to walk beside the people that we serve.”
Angeloff said the organization partners with more than 40 volunteers and 25 religious leaders in the community to serve as mentors.
“All that funding goes back into the program to help volunteers, education, to help the folks that we serve having those relationships,” Angeloff said. “Part of what we do is help people understand recovery — that people aren’t whole unless they’re physically, emotionally and spiritually whole, so when we provide those faith-based services that gap is bridged to help people connect with their higher power.”
Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Bighorns Executive Director Christine Dieterich said the mission of Habitat for Humanity is to bring people together to build homes, communities and hope.
“And essentially that’s what this event is doing, it’s giving us an opportunity to bring you all together to continue to give back and to celebrate some of the accomplishments that we’ve had through our efforts of giving back,” Dieterich said.
JT and Elizabeth Craft have only been playing together for about three years, but the Craft Brothers have been playing together for 25 years.
The Craft Brothers were joined on stage by Rod Jost on bass, who plays with a number of local groups. Ann and Andy Lowe opened the night with an acoustic set.
“The community has so many awesome musicians that we just try to reach out and touch base with as many as we can and collaborate with them,” JT Craft said. “Awareness is a big deal, trying to get people to understand the different causes, and also it’s just a great opportunity for us to get together and jam out and have a good time.”
Angeloff said he was thankful to have people in the community willing to take the time to do a fundraiser to benefit people in need.