On the Town: Empty Bowl event helps fight homelessness

Empty Bowl luncheon volunteers dish out some soup

Soup servers, from left,  Richard Lin, Cassie Raab and Jules Eng were at-the-ready to fill hundreds of artisan bowls.

(Photo by David Laurell))

While most charitable organizations stage fundraisers in fancy ballrooms and provide their supporters with steaks, salmon and souffles, Family Promise of the Verdugos takes a lower-key approach by presenting an annual Empty Bowl luncheon.

This year’s event — which invited supporters to peruse an arts-and-crafts fair, select a ceramic bowl handcrafted by a local artisan and use the vessel to enjoy a variety of soups provided by local eateries — was held on June 14 at St. Finbar Catholic Church’s community center.

Empty Bowl events, which began in Michigan in the early 1990s, have become an international, grass-roots effort to fight hunger in America.

The premise is simple: local potters and arts associations create and donate the bowls for guests to purchase as their lunch receptacle. They then take their bowl home to serve as an artistic symbol of the hunger and uncertainty homeless families face on a daily basis.


The local chapter of Family Promise, one of 190 affiliates nationwide, uses the funds raised at this annual event to further its mission of assisting situationally homeless families.

Established in 2010, the group works with homeless families to help them achieve lasting independence. Partnering with a network of local interfaith congregations and volunteers, they also provide safe shelter, meals and support services such as counseling and job readiness for those in the Burbank, North Hollywood, Glendale and Eagle Rock areas.

Supporters at this year’s Empty Bowl, which included City Council members Jess Talamantes, Emily Gabel-Luddy and former Mayor Marsha Ramos, were welcomed by the organization’s interim executive director, J.P. O’Connor, newly appointed Executive Director Albert Hernandez, and board member Yvette Herrera, who served as the event’s chairwoman.

Among those who made the event a success included the group’s board members Sandy Thompson, Howard Fallman, Becky Haase, Geraldine Ramos-Alvarenga, Miryam Finkelberg, Nancy Guillen, Kym Karas-Huffman, Carolyn Jackson, Barbara Lazar and Zizette Mullins.


Others who were instrumental in bringing the event together were Vanessa Aramayo, Sam Jr. and Kathryn Engel, Rabbi Richard Flom, Laura Friedman, Jenny Smith Greene, Lynn Kronzek, Elizabeth Manasserian, Pat and Laurie Patterson, the Rev. Ross Purdy, Joylene Wagner, Christine Walters, Dale Gorman, Debbie Hensen, Barbara Rog, Michael Hirsch, Mary Jane Weaver, Fran Kissel-Powell, Claude Hulce, Linda Lynchw, Michael Law, Philleen Meskin, Brenda Fabe, Ellen Wohlstadter, Nancy Kachline, David W. Porter and Ellisa Weekley.

For more information about Family Promise of the Verdugos, its upcoming events and volunteer and support opportunities, visit


DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at or (818) 563-1007.