The bowl that’s good for the soul: 13th Empty Bowl event Saturday |

The bowl that’s good for the soul: 13th Empty Bowl event Saturday

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to Prospector
Local artists donate the bowls for the event.
Photo by Tom Durkin


WHAT: 13th Annual Empty Bowl event to benefit Hospitality House

WHEN: Saturday, March 23, with seatings from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

WHERE: Peace Lutheran Church, 828 West Main Street, Grass Valley

TICKETS: $25, available at, Bread & Roses Thrift Store, and BriarPatch Co-op

Helping others and bringing awareness are just two reasons the 13th Empty Bowl event will be held this Saturday to benefit Hospitality House and the guests of Utah’s Place.

Hospitality House got its start in 2005, when the late Utah Phillips and his wife, Joanna Robinson, encouraged and lead community members to find a way to help the homeless meet their basic needs. Together, they engaged local church communities and formed a network of nomadic shelters until they were able to raise funds and find a permanent location. In 2013, that home, “Utah’s Place,” opened its doors.

One of several major fundraisers keeping those doors open is Empty Bowl. The Empty Bowl event features unique ceramic and wooden bowls handcrafted by local artisans. Patrons pay a $25 donation for one of two sessions, select one of approximately 600 bowls (all uniquely hand crafted and donated by the artists), and then enjoy a hearty bowl of soup served with bread.

Hospitality House’s Development Director Ashley Quadros is new to the area but finds the work incredibly rewarding. While she has worked in the nonprofit arena in the past, it was a personal connection that drew her to the work of Hospitality House. She said a good friend became homeless through a series of events beginning with a broken down car in need of repairs that got him behind on rent which eventually lead to eviction.

“It’s hard to believe two people who work full time could end up homeless,” Quadros said. “But that’s the reality here. Many people are one paycheck away. Homelessness has many faces and many stories.”

She says by filling the stomachs of those attending, it brings the message home of the important work Hospitality House does.

“By coming to Empty Bowl, you are standing in solidarity with people who are hungry and without a home,” she said. “And that we are literally taking a bowl and filling it with sustenance, and we are just experiencing and acknowledging if you have no home, what would a bowl of soup mean to you. And somebody without a home who is cold and shivering on the streets, that little bowl of could be that hope they need for a brighter tomorrow.”

Every two tickets sold to the event covers the cost of one person for one night at Utah’s Place, which includes shelter, food, case manager care, and the opportunity to take part in culinary job training and job and life skills classes. The ultimate goal, Quadros said, is to find guests permanent housing. One can rest assured the money donated does not go to waste.

Pooling revenue from this event as well as other income sources, Hospitality House has been able to affect the lives of hundreds of areas homeless. In 2018 alone, the shelter helped just over 500 people, served nearly 40,000 meals, provided over 22,000 bed nights, supplied 1,300 hours of culinary job training, and, most importantly, found housing for 120 people.

One thing that has not changed is the commitment of volunteers, who not only help each night to serve meals at the shelter, but also help make Empty Bowl a success. Quadros is quick to acknowledge the team of volunteers who make the event possible.

“In addition to all the wonderful potters and woodturners who generously donate their beautiful bowls to make Empty Bowl possible, dozens upon dozens of volunteers give their time to the event itself to ensure its success. These are people who process tickets, serve your soup, bus your table and more. The event itself is entirely volunteer-driven.”

“Empty Bowl is an incredible display of community coming together with one common purpose: help those who are hungry and without a home,” she continued. “We are grateful to every person and business who has come together in a shared initiative to help those in need. It is our hope that those who attend Empty Bowl will leave inspired and with a better understanding of not only what Hospitality House does, but of the significant impact made possible because of caring individuals. It truly is the community coming together to help those in need who cannot always help themselves.“

In addition to a unique bowl and delicious soup, there will be a silent auction, a raffle, and patrons will hear directly from guests who will share their stories. Quadros encourages those who plan to attend to buy tickets now, saying they are limited to the number of bowls that are donated and they do sell out, but she said, they won’t run out of soup.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at

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