‘This matters’: Hospitality House, local eateries host Empty Bowl benefit
Special to Prospector
Since the shutdown due to COVID-19 last spring, Hospitality House has provided 24-hour care to the homeless population in Nevada County — an increase of service that has expanded beyond the capacity of the organizations shelter and services facility, Utah’s Place.
With assistance from the community and Nevada County, the nonprofit provided nearly 71,000 meals (almost double the number of the previous year), serving over 600 homeless individuals. In addition, the organization has been able to find long-term housing for approximately 240 people. Hospitality House Development Director Ashley Quadros said they currently serve an average of 90 people each day.
“We’ve had more people experiencing homelessness, more people in need of services. For the last year and a half, we have continued to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week over multiple locations with multiple partnerships.”
For 15 years, Hospitality House held “Empty Bowl,” a benefit to help fund services the organization provides. The pandemic has forced a reinvention of the fundraiser in which participants historically purchased a hand-crafted bowl that would then be filled with soup. To keep socially distant, and for the safety of all involved, this year’s Empty Bowl benefit will take place throughout the month of September at area restaurants. Quadros said this is an incredibly generous act by local eateries who have also suffered great losses since last March.
“We knew we weren’t going to host a mass gathering, especially with so much uncertainty around COVID. The new format is designed to increase social distancing, spread out the participation throughout the month and not focus on one day, to ensure we are spacing out ticketing and to put a spotlight on local restaurants.”
Those who would like to participate in Empty Bowl simply purchase a ticket and then take that ticket to one of the seven participating restaurants during the designated period. In a time that has been difficult for the food industry, Quadros wants to be clear the participating restaurants are not receiving any funds for their donation.
“They are donating that table space. They are donating their staff. They are donating their chef who is making that meal and all of that is a donation to Hospitality House to help execute the event. It speaks high volume to our restaurant industry – to have seven restaurants donating to just partake. Everyone knows the restaurant industry has been hit hard this past year – so for them to step forward and say this matters – addressing homelessness matters – I just hope those who decide to patronize are able to give to them as well. It’s amazing they are able to do it and help us in this way.”
Sopa Thai Cuisine: Sept. 1 through 6
Tofanelli’s Gold Country Bistro: Sept. 8 through 14 (excludes weekend)
Lola at The National Exchange Hotel: Sept. 8 through 14
Golden Gate Saloon at The Holbrooke Hotel: Sept. 15 through 21
Fudenjüce: Sept. 15 through 21
Heartwood Eatery: Sept. 22 through 28
Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co: Sept. 22 through 28
Tickets and more info at https://hhshelter.org/events-fundraisers/empty-bowl/
Each participating restaurant has a predetermined meal to go with the bowl. For example, Sopa Thai Cuisine will serve Tom Kah Soup, Lola @ The National Exchange Hotel will offer their French Onion Soup and Heartwood Eatery will serve their popular Rainbow Salad. A full list of the calendar, participating eateries and what will be served can be found at: https://hhshelter.org/events-fundraisers/empty-bowl/. Tickets to each facility is limited.
Quadros said the hope is that patrons will expand their meal beyond the fundraiser, to help support the restaurant as well.
“We hope they will then patronize the restaurant while they are there so while buying their ticket in advance and signing up for their bowl of soup or salads, or whatever the restaurants featured dish is, people will add on a dessert or an appetizer so the restaurant benefits from that additional purchase.”
Several local artists have once again stepped up to create unique bowls for the benefit. Quadros said the artists have been hard at work creating hundreds of one of a kind functional art.
“Several have made hundreds of bowls. We’ve even attracted artists from out of the area who have heard and wanted to help so we are receiving boxes in the mail from Los Angeles who just want to support this event to help get people back into homes of their own.”
Folks could buy a ticket for each week of the month and try each of the featured restaurants. Quadros said any contribution is greatly appreciated because at the end of the day, it’s not about the bowl or the meal, but about helping to support the organization.
“It’s about helping people in need. It’s our hope that when people do get their beautiful bowls that they remember the bowl represents an opportunity to help someone. Your bowl was sold with sustenance the day you dined at your restaurant and in doing so you are giving someone else sustenance to move forward.”
To kick off the month-long event, Hospitality House is also offering a flash art sale, featuring a variety of bowls and other unique pieces on Wednesday, Sept. 1. Sign up at hhshelter.org/newsletter-sign-up. Sales will happen by calling in and will be sold on a first called, first sold basis 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. No event ticket required to participate. A sneak preview of featured work will be available on hhshelter.org along with the number to call and how to buy on Monday, Aug. 30.
“Lack of affordable housing is our number one problem when it comes to homelessness and that’s without factoring in the challenges of a pandemic, a wildfire or anything else thrown our way. We just don’t have enough of it, “Quadros concluded. ”The community needs to understand homelessness is not just a ‘them’ issue. The recent fires are another example of how one can go from stable to homeless,“ she said. “Compassion. Compassion. Compassion. People often associate homelessness with addiction or job loss but fires are a very real example of homelessness and how one day someone can have a home and the next day be in our shelter. The continued ability to show compassion, to not judge and to help in any way we can just makes us stronger as a community.”
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at email@example.com
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