Wednesday, April 01

Brookdale Newsroom

“Empty Bowls” Finds Recipe For Success

For nearly 25 years, the Brookdale Employee Volunteer Connection (EVC) has been a force for good in the Monmouth County community, collecting funds, food and needed supplies for local families and nonprofits.

Over the past dozen years or so, the annual “Empty Bowls” program has become one of the EVC’s most popular events.

Each year, dozens of Brookdale students, staff, faculty and local partners come together to offer soup, desserts and beautiful ceramic bowls to the college community. A mere $6 buys you a healthy lunch and a work of art, along with a raffle ticket for a large ceramic piece created by local artists and Brookdale faculty.

All proceeds go to local food pantries. Accounts payable specialist and EVC co-founder Helen Vota said the event serves as an annual reminder that there are many “empty bowls” in Monmouth County, and the Brookdale community has a responsibility to help fill them.

“It’s a wonderful program, and it is always very well supported by our community,” Vota said, following the 2015 Empty Bowls event on April 16. “This year we were able to raise $1,448 for the Manasquan Food Pantry, the RAINE Foundation, HABcore in Red Bank, and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Community Outreach in Freehold.”

Nicolette Nicola (left) wraps up a ceramic bowl for a customer during Empty Bowls on April 16.

Nicolette Nicola (left) wraps up a ceramic bowl for a customer during Empty Bowls on April 16.

That success is attributed to a wide range of event supporters – from the ceramics students who make the bowls and the culinary students who prepare the food to partners like the CulinArt Group, which provides supplies and helps keep the soup piping hot throughout college hour.

“It really is a community effort,” said accounting learning assistant and EVC volunteer Ellen Leung, who helped serve Empty Bowls dessert options in Larrison Hall on April 16.

“It’s a way for all of us to say that Brookdale is not just a college. We’re a member of the community, and we want to contribute.”

Local artists like B.J. Kosulavage and associate art Professor Marie Maber also created striking ceramic sculptures for the event, which were raffled off to a few lucky patrons at the end of the day.

While the Empty Bowls booths in the Student Life Center, the Larrison Hall Cafe and the Wall Higher Education Center were busy throughout the afternoon on April 16, there were still a few bowls left over following the event.

In typical EVC fashion, Brookdale’s Lifelong Learning Director Linda Martin offered up a table at the April 20 Women’s Conference in Lincroft to help sell the rest.

“It’s astonishing,” said EVC coordinator Rosemary Kochman, “to see how willing the Brookdale community is to give of their time and their resources to help others.”

Other event supporters included Art Professor Lori Uffer, art learning assistant Eric Johanson, Lina Tambone, Diane Sweeney, Jackie Sullivan, and the Brookdale College Store.

Check out more photos of the Empty Bowls event here.