Two years ago, a group of churches and synagogues in Burbank and surrounding towns formed a network to house families who through some catastrophic event lost their homes and needed a place to go.
They created Family Promise of East San Fernando Valley, an organization representing a massive undertaking of coordination and care for families in Burbank, Glendale, Eagle Rock and North Hollywood.
When the organization launched in July 2010, it had some staff, a site identified for the families to go during the day, and a few locations where those families could sleep at night — mostly extra classrooms or spare rooms at a few churches.
Then last June, something unexpected happened that propelled the organization forward. And this weekend, organizers are hoping it will happen again.
Family Promise connected local artists with restaurants to put on a fundraising lunch, and diners got to keep the bowls after they were done. These handcrafted pieces reminded those who attended that not every bowl gets filled at every meal, and there are plenty of families here in town who are unsure where their next meal will come from.
The event helped stock churches with cleaning supplies, soap and other necessities for families in the program. Event chairwoman Mary Adney said the lunch did more than raise money, it opened the program’s doors to the entire San Fernando community.
“When we had this event last June, we weren’t even working with the families a full year,” Adney said. “We’re very new to the area; this event really put us on the map in terms of who we are and what we’re trying to do.”
Family Promise offers up to 90 days of shelter and food while a family gets back on its feet. Adney said many of the families live paycheck-to-paycheck, and a layoff or injury “can start the spiral.”
Since opening in July 2010, Family Promise has served 100 people in 29 families. Of those, 65 were children ages 17 and under.
Up to four families are housed at any one time in living quarters like St. Finbar’s convent space. The temporary housing provides them a place to be together as a family, while the day center provides job assistance and a resident address while the parents look for work or make enough to move into a more permanent home.
“We buy them time,” Adney said.
This Sunday, Adney and the congregations of Family Promise will host another lunch featuring bowls donated by local artists. The Second Annual Empty Bowl Fundraiser will be held this Sunday between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. at the St. Finbar Community Center, 2110 W. Olive Ave.
The soup will be provided by returning restaurants Café Victory, California Pizza Kitchen, Gary Bric’s Ramp, Granville Café, Pomodoro, and the Riverside Café. Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for children under 12.
If you do plan on going, get there early to have your pick of the pottery. Last year’s event sold out, and with 400 bowls to choose from, it’s likely they’ll go fast.
Artist Philleen Meskin, a member of Burbank Temple Emanuel, will have four pieces to choose from. And each has its own personality.
“I give a lot of [my art] away so when I go to someone’s house it’s like seeing an old friend. It’s personal, you know? It’s a piece of yourself,” she said.
For more information on how to donate supplies or volunteer for Family Promise, visit www.familypromiseesfv.org.