One of the few things in life more comforting and heartwarming than enjoying a bowl of soup is doing something to help those who have no place to call home or know where their next meal may come from.
Family Promise of the Verdugos, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance, safe shelter and meals to homeless children and their families, gave supporters the opportunity to support the agency by staging its annual Empty Bowl fundraiser this past Sunday.
After being welcomed to the community room at St. Charles-Boromeo Church by the organization’s executive director, Albert Hernandez, Family Promise staff as well as members of the board of directors, Jane Winter of Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, who served as the event’s chairwoman and supporters were invited to select a ceramic bowl hand-crafted 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 10 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 is the largest turnout we have ever had for this event,” Hernandez said. “I think that is because the programs we offer and the families we serve have tripled over this past year. Last year, we made a difference in the lives of 40 local families. This year, we have served 126 families so far.”
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 Family Promise staff members whose dedication to the organization’s mission was honored were Carrie Prado, Carlton Johnson, Lisa Reyes and Vanessa Tachiquin.
Among those in attendance who honored the employees by their presence were Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, Councilman Tim Murphy, Arda Tchakian who represented state Sen. Anthony Portantino, and former Mayors Tom Flavin and Marsha Ramos.
This year’s Empty Bowl event, made possible by Yvette Herrera, who is Family Promise board president, the Cusumano Real Estate Group, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, the First United Methodist Church of Glendale and Gain Federal Credit Union, was also sponsored by numerous individuals and businesses including Barbara Lazar, Rocky and Lily Thompson, Suzanne McClintock, Christine Dawood, Chuck and Judy Stuart, Darla Gerharter, Darrin and Susan Borders, Lynn Kronzek and Rabbi Richard Flom, Mary Jane Weaver, Michelle McGrath, Victoria and Anthony Cusumano, Dan Soderstrom and Cari Pelayo.
Others whose commitment to making the fundraiser a success included board members Kathy Sessinghaus, Diana Moreno, Nancy Guillen, Christine Armani-Dawood, Jessa Freemyer, Patrick Garney, Lisa Patino, Kenny Pawlek and Christine Rumfola.
For more information about the work of and support opportunities with Family Promise of the Verdugos, visit familypromiseverdugos.org.