Empty Bowl delivers on potters’ promise

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Visitors to the Empty Bowl saw a few new features at this year’s event, which made changes to make the fundraiser a more family-friendly event.

The 2013 Empty Bowl was April 20 at the Douglas County Event Center in Castle Rock, with more than 500 advance tickets sold to raise money for the Women’s Crisis and Family Outreach Center.

Now in its 13th year, the event features the work of area potters who donated about 2,000 original, hand-thrown bowls, which serve as a thank-you gift for attendees. Visitors also get a pass to sample the soups, breads and desserts donated by area restaurants.

In years past, the event was on a Friday, with sales of the bowls reserved for the last hour of the event. This year, the Empty Bowl moved to Saturday and placed the bowls available for sale when the doors opened.

The event also featured special display tables to recognize potters who donated 80 or more bowls, a kids’ play area for young children and a raffle in lieu of a silent auction.

The Empty Bowl raises money for the Women’s Crisis and Family Outreach Center, which supports victims of domestic violence in Douglas and Elbert counties with a shelter, free counseling, legal advocacy and a 24-hour crisis line, among other things. The Empty Bowl symbolizes the empty bowl left at the family table when a victim of domestic violence flees, said Jennifer Walker, executive director.

“We thought we could do something new and wanted to create a more children’s friendly event,” Walker said. “We wanted it to be more of an open house atmosphere.”

The center is recovering from one of its toughest years, with the loss of about $200,000 in federal grant money, Walker said. With more than 80 percent of its clients remaining violence-free for more than six months after receiving services, the center remained committed to finding ways to keep services running, she said.

“We’ve done well without compromising the services we provide to our clients,” she said. “This is an amazing community. That fact that we made it through is thanks to the community.”

The community this year included ceramic students from Rock Canyon High School who, under the tutelage of art teacher Daniel Gonzalez, donated hundreds of bowls to the event.

Gonzalez has been guiding students through the Empty Bowl for about five years.

“This is all on top of their Advanced Placement curriculum,” Gonzalez said. “I think it really opens their eyes to how art can be an integral part of the community. It’s been a great experience.”

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