Service and Creativity in Anchorage

Providence Associates are involved in and deeply committed to service. With many ways to serve others, Cindy (PA) and Don Kolstad have found a particularly creative way to love their neighbor.

Don and Cindy

Over that last 17 years, they have hosted an art fair at their home in Anchorage, Alaska.

During those years – except during the pandemic – they have raised more than $91,000 for Clare House (, an emergency shelter for women with children and expectant mothers operated by Catholic Social Services.

Cindy Calder-Kolstad, PA, is exuberant in relating the involvement of other PA’s in the Plein Air, French for outdoor painting, and in her love for the Providence family:

“We have all been inspired by the beauty of Blessed Emilie Gamelin, Mother Joseph, Mother Bernarda, the Sisters of Providence and Providence Associates,” she says.  “Most of the PA’s have come to help over the years.”

The Plein Air is held usually on the last weekend of July every year. Don, an artist and teacher, invites about 20 other artists, arranges for advertising and generally coordinates the event.  (See his work at The fair is held at the Kolstad’s home, with tents in the yard wrapping around their house.

“We have about 250-500 people attend,” says Don. “The artists display and sell their works during the two days of the event and we culminate with a silent auction of items donated by artists.

“Early on we would let participants use our kitchen to make a quick sandwich and that blossomed into a weekend-long potluck.  People look forward to the event and we have a wonderful time hosting it.”

“Catholic Social Services in Alaska has always been there to help as well,” explains Cindy. 

“With so many people coming together, it’s really a sign of goodness of God that all these helping hearts make this project work.”

Cindy has been a PA for more than 20 years.  Sr. Claire Gagnon first introduced her to the idea when Cindy was praying in the hospital chapel after bringing the Eucharist to patients.