Empty Bowls for affordable housing

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In their fight to end homelessness for those in the Niagara Region, Bethlehem Housing and Support Services is hosting their 14th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser on March 6.

This event will see a variety of soups, 14 to be exact, that will be put on display for individuals in attendance to taste, by organizations and individuals within the community. While each individual will be creating a unique soup flavour, and competing to win, all are participating for one goal; to raise awareness for homelessness. Empty Bowls is the largest fundraiser hosted by Bethlehem Housing and Support Services and tickets sold out quite early this year. Club Roma in St. Catharines will be home to this event with VIP entry starting at 5:00 p.m. followed by general entry at 6:00 p.m.

Bethlehem Housing and Support Services, the official host of this event, is an organization in the Niagara Region that provides affordable housing in order to support the growth of families and individuals.

The Bethlehem Project was started was in 1986 by a group of citizens and local churches which eventually led to the establishment of Bethlehem Place in 1988. Since then, it has focused on providing affordable housing and services to those in the Niagara Region. In 2010 the name was officially changed to Bethlehem Housing and Support Services.

“This is the largest event that Bethlehem Housing and Support Services hosts throughout the year. Proceeds from this event will go towards targeted programs and support services for individuals and families in the community to help rebuild their lives. Bethlehem Housing and Support Services provides a variety of services for people experiencing a variety of issues including; eviction, homelessness due to personal reasons or just struggling to find affordable housing. There are several reasons as to why an individual or families could be homeless and we want to help these individuals,” said Rhiannon Barry, the Community Engagement Coordinator at Bethlehem Housing and Support Services.

This event lasts for three hours and sees a variety of soups cooked, bowls donated and a community join together in the fight to end homelessness. The event starts with each individual taking an artist and potter bowl, donated by potters in the community such as Chris Sora, Sonja Zanuttiei and Roberta Schmidt, as well as students. These potters donate around 450 to 500 bowls for the individuals in attendance to use at the event as well as to take home.

“Having individuals take home these bowls to use or to place in their house, serves as a constant reminder of the people that struggle in our community with being homeless. These bowls are also a reminder of the support that they have provided to those families and individuals,” said Barry.

Individuals, with their bowls, taste the 14 different soups that have been contributed by a variety of soup chefs from wineries, casinos and smaller local businesses. At the end of the night, a panel of six judges will vote on what they think is the best soup, as well as a people’s choice vote. Based on these votes, two plaques will be awarded to the winners, one for the judges nomination and one for the people’s choice nomination.

This event continually sees an outpouring of support from the community in the fight to end homelessness. Last year $40,000 was raised to provide continued supports and services to those struggling in the Niagara community and this year the funds raised are expected to surpass that of last years.

To learn more about Empty Bowls and Bethlehem Housing and Support Services, individuals should visit bethlehemhousing.ca.

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