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Empty Bowls

Maris Grove combines camaraderie and creativity in a project to fight hunger

Created date

January 22nd, 2015
Rose Court Program Assistant Tia Santana (left) and Maris Grove resident Anne Bové display two of the bowls created for the Empty Bowls project.
Rose Court Program Assistant Tia Santana (left) an

Erickson Living community’s recent Empty Bowls project aimed to help reduce hunger in the Delaware County area. Empty Bowls is an international grassroots movement to fight hunger.

“We handcrafted soup bowls from raw clay and used them at a simple bread and soup meal to benefit a local charity,” says Community Resources Manager Sally Christy. 

Collaborative effort

She floated the idea at Maris Grove after reading about Empty Bowls events in and around Philadelphia.

Christy proposed making 200 soup bowls, glazing them, and firing them in the kiln at the community’s Brinton Clubhouse creative arts studio. 

She envisioned a collaborative effort both at Maris Grove and beyond. On campus, a cadre of independent living residents, staff members, and five residents of Rose Court, Maris Grove’s rehabilitation and continuing care neighborhood, worked together to shape the bowls.

Two to three times a month, they gathered in the arts studio. Under the watchful eye of Rose Court Program Assistant Tia Santana, they set up an assembly line of bowl production. 

Everyone looked forward to the Friday excursions in camaraderie and creativity. 

“I loved Fridays,” says Christy. “We had so much fun. Projects like this are the best part of my job.” 

It was easy to see why: lively chatter ping-ponged across the worktables as participants alternately teased one another or admired the already fired bowls, of which no two were exactly alike.

Anne Bové’s neighbor enticed her to volunteer. “The important part of this is the meeting of people,” Anne says. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t know these ladies from Rose Court.”

For their part, the Rose Court residents so enjoyed the Friday sessions, they didn’t miss a single one. 

And Santana, a professional artist who has a master’s degree in ceramics, personally contributed ten bowls she’d thrown on the pottery wheel at her studio.

Christy also reached out to the off-campus community by enlisting nearby St. Cornelius Elementary School. Her friendship with the school’s art teacher inspired the school to make 100 bowls. 

A ‘souper’ conclusion

On January 28, dining services served a bread-and-soup meal in Maris Grove’s Blue Sky Restaurant. 

In exchange for a cash donation, diners selected a bowl for their soup, then kept it as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. 

Maris Grove’s Resident Outreach Club is donating the proceeds to a local food pantry.




Maris Grove gives back

Besides donating time and treasure to benefit Maris Grove’s resident care fund and the scholarship fund for its student servers, residents volunteered in a variety of other projects last year. For example, they collected: 

• back-to-school supplies

• 5,490 pounds of nonperishable food items and donated them to two local food pantries

• hats and mittens for donation to a women’s domestic violence center

“People here have been fortunate in their lives and have a desire to share their good fortune,” says Community Resources Manager Sally Christy. “They bring a philanthropic enthusiasm to these projects, and it becomes infectious.”