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Music with a Cause at Open Door Coffeehouse

By Allison Wilson

If you love live music and giving back to the community, you should definitely check out the Open Door Coffeehouse in Arlington. It's a non-profit, volunteer-run, acoustic listening room venue hosted by The Welcome Table Christian Church. The concerts are presented on the second Saturday of each month, except during June and July, and each performance benefits a local charity. The venue features Singer/Songwriter, Celtic, Bluegrass, Americana and Folk music, as well as bottomless coffee and tea along with soft drinks and desserts.

Supporting charities adds meaning to the concerts for some audience members and gives a sense of purpose to the performers. The Open Door Coffeehouse provides a stage for the musicians, an evening out for the audience members and monetary assistance for those in need.

The Open Door Coffeehouse was started as a mission project of the Open Door Sunday School class. The purpose, or mission, of the Open Door Coffeehouse was to provide funds to local human welfare charities in and around Arlington, Texas. Most of these charities are small and depend on contributions from local people, businesses, and churches, as opposed to larger organizations such as United Way.

"Today, we still use this guiding principle in choosing the local charities we sponsor," says Bob Callahan, Artistic Director of Open Door Coffeehouse. "Our list of charities includes Mission Arlington/Mission Metroplex, Arlington Urban Ministries, Advocates for Special People, Meals On Wheels, Arlington Life Shelter, and Safe Haven just to name a few. We also donate various groups within our host church. The charities are suggested to us through our volunteers, family, friends, and church member, all of whom often volunteer at these charities."

Once a year, the Open Door volunteers gather as a group and match the charities with the shows for that year. The current list of charities contains more than a dozen local charities, and with only nine performances a year, Callahan and his team try very hard to rotate the charities on a yearly basis, so they can sponsor each charity every two years.

The Open Door Coffeehouse intertwines the music, the audience, and the charities in such a way that all three take on equal importance. It's a smoke-free, alcohol-free venue in which singer/songwriters can share their craft. The audience's attentive focus on the music and the performer creates an atmosphere of fellowship between the audience and the musicians.

"We strive to provide a quiet, relaxed atmosphere in which to listen and enjoy music," Callahan says. "Our volunteers provide the desserts. These sweet treats, such as pies, cakes, and cookies, along with a cup of coffee, make for a congenial atmosphere. The infamous 'Coffee House Cut' is a very generous portion of sweetness, and oh, so tasty."

Callahan says he intends to keep the Open Door Coffeehouse a small, intimate venue for the musicians and audience. His long-term plan is to bring in bigger acts, continue hosting audience favorites, and introduce our music lovers to unfamiliar performers, while still sponsoring local charities.

"Our hope is to offer the Open Door experience to more people, particularly to younger people, and continue the work we have started," he says.

The Open Door Coffeehouse is located at 4600 Highwood Drive. For more information, call 682-667-4175 for more information.

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Allison Wilson is an award-winning writer and communications professional whose...

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