Life and Arts

On the Town: Empty Bowl fundraiser flows over with generous support

Dawn Greenwood, from left, Christine Rumfola, Jane Winter, Dan Soderstrom and Patrick Garney were among those who made the Empty Bowl event a success on Sunday.
(David Laurell)

For the ninth year, Family Promise of the Verdugos, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance, safe shelter and meals to homeless children and their families, gave people the opportunity to support the agency by staging its annual Empty Bowl fundraiser this past Sunday.

After being welcomed to the community room at Glendale’s First United Methodist Church by the organization’s executive director, Albert Hernandez, and Jane Winter of Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, who served as the event’s chairwoman, supporters were invited to select a ceramic bowl handcrafted by local pottery artists.

With their bowl in hand, guests then made a decision as to how it would be filled with steaming soups donated by area restaurants.

Following the meal, those bowls were then taken home to serve as either a piece of art or a functional receptacle that will stand as a symbolic reminder of the hunger, fear, uncertainty and homelessness families in the community face on a daily basis.


“This year, we are honoring local church congregations that do a tremendous job for Family Promise all year long,” said Winter.

“They are the backbone of what the organization does on a day-to-day basis and they deserve to be recognized,” she added.

Among the representatives of Burbank congregations honored were Mary Jane Weaver and Doreen Roadarmel of Burbank First Presbyterian, JoDee Geryak of St. Francis-Xavier, Dave and Sandy Engel of Burbank First Christian, Lynda Shaw-Jackson of St. Finbar, Alexander Bache Perry of Burbank First Methodist, Kathryn Keating of Magnolia Park United Methodist, and Beverly Clarville, Jane Schroeder and Yvonne Jedrzejewski of Westminster Presbyterian.

Working in partnership with regional faith-based congregations and other community resources, Family Promise provides food, shelter, counseling and job-readiness training that provides the basic needs, self-reliance and confidence to establish a more stable future for situationally homeless families.


Among the dignitaries in attendance at Sunday’s fundraiser were state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), Burbank Councilman Tim Murphy, and Burbank school board members Roberta Reynolds and Char Tabet.

This year’s Empty Bowl event, made possible by Kenny Pawlek, who is Family Promise’s board president, the Cusumano Real Estate Group, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, the First United Methodist Church of Glendale and Gain Federal Credit Union.

Others whose commitment to making the fundraiser a success included board members Kathy Sessinghaus, Jessa Freemyer, Diana Moreno, Christine Dawood, Patrick Garney, Dawn Greenwood, Yvette Herrera, Christine Rumfola, Dan Soderstrom, Jodi Reneaud and Darrin Borders.

For more information about the work of and support opportunities with Family Promise of the Verdugos, visit

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.