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The 15th annual Empty Bowl benefit for Hospitality House returned for all of September with a new restaurant-hosted format, filling bowls aplenty with hope for the homeless community. The fundraiser raised just shy of $30,000 for Hospitality House to directly help people experiencing homelessness receive emergency shelter, food, case management, housing aid, medical respite, and more.

Success for the event was largely made possible by the artist community, who year after year, continue to create and donate bowls by the hundreds. Seven restaurants, including Sopa Thai Cuisine, Tofanelli’s Gold Country Bistro, Lola at The National Exchange Hotel, Golden Gate Saloon at The Holbrooke Hotel, fudenjüce, Heartwood Eatery, and Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co., all stepped up as featured hosts for the event, followed by hundreds of locals who patronized the event, business sponsors, as well as donors and event volunteers.

“With a major shift in our event format to increase safety, we didn’t know what to expect in terms of interest or involvement, but our community came through in droves as it always does,” said Ashley Quadros, development director and event planner at Hospitality House. “Many ticketholders took part in our flash art sale to increase their bowl collections while others went above and beyond to patronize their restaurant of choice with food and beverage add-ons, creating a domino effect of community support and camaraderie.”

Mark Burton fell on hard times but found hope at Hospitality House to turn his life around. Photo by Christina Apkarian of Hospitality House

Empty Bowl serves as an ongoing reminder of what a simple bowl of soup and sustenance truly means for someone who is hungry and struggling on the streets with no place to call home. In 2020, Hospitality House served over 70,000 meals and every meal provided was met with gratitude from locals in need, like current homeless shelter guest, Mark Burton. Once a successful business owner with five homes, Burton became homeless after a series of unfortunate events. In June 2021, he turned to Hospitality House for help and was met by caring staff who provided stability and support without judgement. Today, Burton is maintaining his sobriety and case managers connected him to much needed medical services, resulting in hernia surgery and ongoing chiropractic care. Burton is relearning his self-worth and benefiting from case management, the computer literacy job training program offered at the shelter, as well as from being a caretaker (someone who assists with the day-to-day operations). Burton is finally healing in both body and mind. Each day, he takes another step toward returning to self-sufficiency and permanent housing, and because of Empty Bowl patrons and fellow donors in the community, one day, he’ll get there.  To read Burton’s full story, visit hhshelter.org/news.

Further support for Empty Bowl came from generous local business sponsors, including: BriarPatch Food Co-op, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, SPD Markets, Telestream, LLC, Chapa-De Indian Health, YubaNet, Pawnie’s Home Care, Caseywood, AJA Video Systems, County of Nevada (Better Together), Northern California Mortgage Co., Nevada County Association of Realtors, The Union, Whitewater Naturopathic Medicine, Peters’ Drilling & Pump Service, KVMR, Clientworks, Law Office of Minor and Keene, and Fore Dental Care.

Those who attended the event are invited to take a short survey to share their feedback and experience, available at https://arcg.is/uizqq. To further the efforts of Hospitality House, donations are always welcome and may be mailed to 1262 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, CA 95945. Additionally, Hospitality House is currently looking for angel donors and business sponsors to help offer a triple match for the 16th annual Night of Giving, a small virtual musical benefit for Hospitality House, slated for this December. Become an angel donor for as little as $500. Those who would like to help or who would like to receive more information are invited to reach out to development director Ashley Quadros at aquadros@hhshelter.org or by phone at (530) 615-0852.