Empty Bowls help fill funds for LifeSource programs

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 196 views 

More than 200 people piled into the Mt. Sequoyah Retreat Center dining hall Tuesday evening (Nov. 5) to enjoy gourmet soup, bread and dessert at the Empty Bowls event, which was hosted by LifeSource International, a Fayetteville-based nonprofit organization.

More than 10 regional artists made and donated handcrafted bowls for guests to take home, which symbolized the empty bowls in the community that the organization helps to fill with their food assistance programs.

Thirteen Northwest Arkansas restaurants and caterers made gallons of soup for guests to sample. Event-goers voted for the soup they thought was tastiest.

Fayetteville musicians Jason Strode and TJ Scarlett provided entertainment for the event with their acoustic renditions of rock ‘n’ roll classics.

“We’re hoping to raise at least $6,000 to help people in our community,” said Jimmie Conduff, assistant executive director for LifeSource International.

Most of the money raised came from ticket sales, a raffle and a silent auction.

“The event has steadily grown every year,” Conduff said.

Northwest Arkansas artist Kelly Wilks and the pottery guild started the Empty Bowls event after she noticed Hurricane Katrina refugees rummaging for food in the woods behind her studio. Wilks is a potter and her family owns a restaurant.

“I decided to put the two together to raise money and feed people,” Wilks said.

After teaming up with several different nonprofit organizations, Wilks said she “found a home” with LifeSource International.

Wilks and her friends made around 100 bowls for the event.

“We had a trimming and throwing party,” she said.

LifeSource International helps tens of thousands of “individuals, children and families in need” each year, according to their website.

“They have been a blessing,” said volunteer Jessica Neblett. New to the area, Neblett became acquainted with the organization after using their child care program. “I don’t know what I would have done without them.”

LifeSource International has a unique “holistic” approach to helping families. The organization, which was founded 13 years ago, operates food assistance, adult education, child care, counseling and senior citizen programs as well as running a health care referral service.

“We have realized that when someone needs help putting food on the table, there are likely other underlying needs like health care, day care and honing new job skills,” Conduff said. “A lot of the families that we help are involved with LifeSource in multiple ways. … Every parent’s heart is with their child, and the dream of every parent is to make their child’s life better than their own. That’s why we try to help every child stand up and stand out. I think that our senior citizen program is especially important because of all they have done to contribute to our culture, our nation.”