SOWEGA Council on Aging's Izzie Sadler, left, and Albany Arts Council's Carol Hetzler have teamed to promote the Empty Bowls fundraiser benefiting Meals on Wheels, which provides nutritious food for homebound residents in 14 counties of Southwest Georgia.
ALBANY — Carol Hetzler calls the first Empty Bowls event, scheduled for Jan. 30 at the Albany Civic Center, “Part soup, part art and a lot of heart.”
It seems all the more fitting, then, that Hetzler, the executive director of the Albany Area Arts Council, and SOWEGA Council on Aging Development Director Izzie Sadler would team up to plan the one-of-a-kind event. The dynamic duo, who both have backgrounds in art and nonprofit fundraising, are so like-minded they appear to have been working together forever.
“This is a concept I got from when I lived in North Carolina,” Hetzler said of Empty Bowls. “I brought it up before the Arts Council board, and they loved the idea. I asked if anyone on the board was affiliated with an organization related to hunger, and someone mentioned Meals on Wheels.
“I contacted (Council on Aging Director) Kay Hind, and she said, ‘I’ve got the perfect person to work with you’.”
“I literally started working on this project my first day with the Council on Aging,” Sadler said. “My position is a new one created to prepare for the (senior) center that’s in the works, and this seemed like a perfect fit for our Meals on Wheels program.
“Carol and I really hit it off; we’re constantly coming up with ways we can enhance the concept in the future.”
Right now, though, Hetzler and Sadler are busy rounding up participating restaurants and other supporters to help them make the first Empty Bowls a success. The concept is a simple one: Four area artists have created 50 ceramic bowls each, which participants may buy for a $20 donation that will be split between the Arts Council and the Council on Aging.
With their ticket, supporters will be allowed to keep the bowl of their choice and will receive a soup lunch provided by a number of participating restaurants. Lunch will be served at the Albany Civic Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the 30th and will include bread and drinks, all served in an atmosphere designed to promote community arts.
Live music will be performed, and works of the participating artists who designed the bowls will be on display.
“This is more than just a fundraiser and more than just a soup lunch,” Hetzler said. “The bowls, which are quite beautiful, by the way, are symbolic of the many empty bowls that face the hungry throughout our community.
“The money we collect will help both of our agencies; several local restaurants will be showcased, and we hope that when people look at their bowls they’ll remember the empty bowls throughout our region and do something to help with the fight against hunger.”
Arts professors at both Darton College (Connie Gibson) and Albany State University (Scott Marini), as well as local businesses The Clay Spot and Market Square Pottery (owned by Kirby Gregory) are designing and creating the bowls for the event.
“Their work is so important to Empty Bowls,” Hetzler said. “To thank them, we’re going to host a ‘Potters With a Heart’ sale and exhibition at the Arts Council Building (the Carnegie Library at 215 N. Jackson St.) Jan. 30-Feb. 13. They will keep 100 percent of all sales they make during the exhibit.”
Filling bowls and participants’ bellies at Empty Bowls will be delicious soups prepared by local restaurants Johnny Carino’s, Outback Steakhouse, the Jackson Street Subway, Elements, Austin’s, the Cookie Shoppe, Cafe 230, Pearly’s and Terry Lee’s Olde World Sandwich Shoppe.
Sadler said donations that go to Meals on Wheels will help provide food for the more than 184,000 meals the all-volunteer program serves to elderly and disabled shut-ins in 14 Southwest Georgia counties five days a week, 250 days a year.
“This program is a lifesaver for some of the homebound who are delivered meals each weekday,” she said. “For many of them, it’s their only meal. We’re hoping we’ll be able to expand to include weekend and other holiday meals.”
Counties served by the SOWEGA Council on Aging include Baker, Calhoun, Colquitt, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Grady, Lee, Miller, Mitchell, Seminole, Terrell, Thomas and Worth.
Tickets for Empty Bowls may be purchased online at www.albanyartscouncil.org or www.sowegacoa.org or by coming by the Arts Council during regular business hours (10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday). Contact Hetzler by calling (229) 439-2787 or Sadler at (229) 432-1124.