Empty Bowls No More!

Continuing an annual LEAP tradition originating in 2008, Cynthia Boyd, Elisabeth Espinoza, Alexandra Spears, Victoria McClendon, and I participated in the Wynne Home’s Empty Bowls, the 2023 version! The event is a brilliant way to promote art, engage the community, and fight hunger in one lively, fun-filled day. 

Elisabeth Espinoza and Olivia Discon

Sponsored by HEB with soups donated by local restaurants such as Sam’s Table, City Hall Cafe, Five Loaves Deli, and culinary students from Huntsville High School, the event benefitted the Senior Center’s Meals On Wheels, an organization to help fight food insecurity for the elderly.

How does the event work? It’s pretty simple–for the public, that is. In the months leading up to the event, the Wynne Home hosted pottery classes to make the bowls, allowing volunteers to learn a craft while supporting their community and the arts. These participants could either reserve their bowls or offer them to the Wynne Home for the Empty Bowls event.

Then, on Tuesday, March 7, the public was invited to the Wynne Home for lunch–and a work of art! With a suggested donation of $15, visitors could select any of the bowls created by the volunteers and help themselves to the large variety of soups and sandwich items. The array of vibrant, unique bowls reflects the innate beauty of volunteerism and service…

…but more importantly, the bowls represent food insecurity and the ongoing issue that can be ameliorated with compassion.

The student volunteers were happy to help, by greeting diners, serving soup or food, taking photographs, and helping clean up.

We also purchased soup ourselves and donated to the cause! Moreover, we had the incredible opportunity to speak with the many members of the Huntsville community passing through the doors.

Two of the three volunteers (myself included) are freshmen, so this was not only our first trip to the Wynne Home, but our first chance to meet community figures. We met Mayor Brauninger, Councilmember Humphrey, Councilmember McKenzie, Councilmember Graham, Chamber President Ray Hernandez, Shannon Higbie, Laura Green…

…Professor Jennifer Didier, Linda McKenzie, Jeff Murski, and many City of Huntsville staff. Among the latter included Sarah Faulkner, Angela Robinson, Tammy Gann, Aron Kulhavy, and Tracy Rikard. As a special bonus, we had the opportunity to meet Dr. and Mrs. Pease as well as Nancy Gaertner!

By the end of the event, most of the bowls had been selected and taken home.

…but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t artworks to be appreciated. We took the opportunity to view the Wynne Home’s current exhibit: “Speaking In Color and Light” by Jane Manthei. Although beset by Austism and growing up largely non-verbal, Manthei uses her artwork to communicate and express how she perceives the world.

Manthei’s work is almost photographic in its realism, using intricate and tiny details to configure landscapes, portraits, animals, and nature. 

It was a rewarding day in so many ways, and we wish to thank the community, the sponsors, and the donors for coming together. And, of course, many thanks to the Wynne Home for hosting an event integrating art, community, and public service in Huntsville!

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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