Almost half the world’s population lives in poverty, but even this devastatingly high statistic didn’t stop Union’s Empty Bowls from holding an event to help the local community fight hunger.
On April 19, the Empty Bowls committee held their annual event at Proctors Theatre to raise money for the hungry within the local area.
The event was coordinated by student volunteers through the Kenney Community Center. All the proceeds they earned go to the Bethesda House, City Mission of Schenectady and Concerned for the Hungry.
Every person who attended the event received a handmade bowl of his or her choice with the payment of admission. This bowl can then be used to put food in from the buffet line at the event.
The event was a sit down meal with entertainment in the theater. Guests went through a buffet line and enjoyed their meals with entertainment, keeping them engaged during the event. There was a local band, the III Funk Ensemble and Union’s own a cappella groups: the Dutch Pipers, the Garnet Minstrelles and the Eliphalets.
There also was a discussion about how this event helps stop hunger and aids those who are in need of food and money. Charity organizations also discussed where this money will go and how it will help people in need.
“There are multiple purposes for the event, the main purpose to raise awareness anout the food-insecurity issue that people in Schenectady face,” said Angela Tatem, the Director of the Kenney Community Center.
Tatem was impressed and pleased with the outcome of this year’s event, stating “At one point, early on, we joked that the event would be known as the ‘Empty Seats Project’ but it certainly has come a long way and the students’ effort to outreach more to the community have paid off.” She praised the students involved with the organization of the event.
The meal at the event is intended to be a “humble sharing of soup and bread,” as described by Bin Chen ’15, who has been involved in Empty Bowls for three years.
“We put together Empty Bowls by meeting once a week, splitting tasks up amongst the committee and setting deadlines. We advertised, tabled, called and reached out to local business as well as the Union campus throughout the year beginning in October 2014,” Chen explained. The event raised over $3,800 and more than 200 people attended.
Another active senior in the committee, Gerardo Reyes ’15, became a part of the club three years ago. He described the event as, “a way to raise awareness of the amount of people who suffer from poverty and are unable to provide food for themselves and their families.
This event fundraises so that it can be donated to local charity organizations in the area that help locals who are unable to afford food for themselves and their families. These charities provide food and shelter to help people get back on their feet.” The experience isn’t just rewarding for those in the community, but also for those involved in building this event.
“Knowing I made a difference, I know its super cheesy, but it’s really how I feel about it. The fact that I actually cared and tried to make a difference in someone else’s life, that’s the most rewarding feeling,” Reyes said about how satisfying the event is.
“My favorite part is how on the day of the event, I get to see that all of our hard work paid off and seeing so many great people coming to the event felt heart-warming. It showed me that there were so many who cared about the cause and the community. The most rewarding parts of the experience were working with amazing individuals, building my leadership skills and giving back to the community,” Chen said about her experience at Empty Bowls.
“My favorite part was seeing the event come together, it was a wonderful night and lots of people came to show their compassion and support of people who need assistance in Schenectady,” said Adam Rosenthal ’16. Rosenthal first got involved in the event this year after learning about it through his teammate.
Rosenthal continued, “These are people who don’t have Thanksgiving meals every year and with the help of these organizations people can have holidays like that, ones they usually wouldn’t be able to enjoy because of their situations.”