Family Promise to Hold Annual ‘Empty Bowl’ Fundraiser

By On May 24, 2013

Family Promise throws a soup party and pottery artists make the bowls. Funds raised help homeless families get a roof over their heads. This year, 21 families, consisting of 28 adults and 35 children, have received assistance.

By Joyce Rudolph

Ceramic artists are lending a hand to the third annual Empty Bowl fundraiser to benefit Family Promise of the East San Fernando Valley.

The event is from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. June 2 at the First United Methodist Church of Glendale, 134 N. Kenwood St., Glendale. Proceeds provide safe shelter, meals and support to homeless families.

Ellisa Weekley, of Burbank, with several bowls she has made for the Family Promise Empty Bowl fundraiser on June 2. (photo by Joyce Rudolph)

Ellisa Weekley, of Burbank, with several bowls she has made for the Family Promise Empty Bowl fundraiser on June 2. (photo by Joyce Rudolph)

Artists from the area are making one-of-a-kind bowls for the fundraiser. Guests can choose the bowl they like and fill it with one of several soups donated by local restaurants. An assortment of donated bread and desserts accompany the meal. Then everyone takes their bowls home as a reminder of the hunger and uncertainty homeless families face daily.

Last year more than 300 bowls left the building in happy hands, said bowl chairwoman Barbara Lazar, who has been a pottery student at the Burbank Creative Arts Center for 10 years. Each bowl is a work of art, she added.

“I start out in January bugging everybody I know that makes pottery and it’s not just at the Creative Arts Center, it’s at the colleges, high schools come to us, individual potters, and other pottery studios in the East San Fernando Valley,” she said.

One of the event’s most passionate potter’s is Ellisa Weekley, of Burbank, who has made more than 80 bowls and she keeps adding more.

She learned how to throw pottery at Glendale Community College and took other classes at the Burbank Creative Arts Center.

Her inspiration to create bowls for the fundraiser, she said, is that she believes in the idea of getting people back to work and in a home, especially homeless families with children. Family Promise offers counseling and assistance for getting a job.

“I just recognize that I just have so much to be thankful for,” she said. “Most of it is not material needs it’s just our community, friends and family and being able to help.”

The idea to begin a Family Promise network in the East Valley started in 2008, said Lazar, who was a member of the founding group. Family Promise opened its doors to the first homeless family on July 1, 2010.

“And we have been full almost since that time,” she said. “The families who come in pass through our doors and go on to be independent. They come in with children. They sleep in cars. They sleep in motels. We help them get back into real homes. It is so rewarding. It is an incredible organization.”

Family Promise of the East San Fernando Valley serves Burbank, North Hollywood, Glendale and Eagle Rock. This year, it has helped 21 families consisting of 28 adults and 35 children, organizers said. Family Promise has more than 183 networks across the country affiliated with the nonprofit organization.

A closer look at more bowls made by Ellisa Weekley. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)

A closer look at more bowls made by Ellisa Weekley. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)

The Empty Bowl event not only helps a cause, but people pay $30 for a bowl made by teachers and some of the advanced potters who sell their work for a lot more than that.

“It’s a feel good event,” Lazar said. “You get excited about the bowl. Looking at the 400 bowls on a table and picking the one you want — it speaks to you– it’s kinda fun!”

A variety of soups are served, like potato, split pea and vegetable soups, and a choice of breads and desserts. There is also musical entertainment, drawings for gift baskets and a fine art display, including vases, platters and notecards.

Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for children under 12. For tickets or more information, visit www.FamilyPromiseESFV.org, email tickets@FamilyPromiseESFV.org or call (747) 333-6081.