Last year during the fall season, over 750 individuals and 22 companies hosted pottery bowl painting parties. They gathered on behalf of Petaluma People Services Center to create hundreds of bowls for the annual 1000 Bowls fundraising event.
Pottery has been in existence since the earliest developments of civilization of humankind throughout the world. Archeologists often refer to shards of pottery to painstakingly piece together an understanding of a lost people or tribe amid the dust of antiquity.
What archaeologists are able to uncover by connecting the pieces often astonishes them. Whether it was an everyday earthen vessel that held basic food items like wine or oil or if it was ornate for something special, sacred, pottery says and reveals a lot about us humans.
For the past five years the annual 1000 Bowls has revealed that hunger, homelessness, isolation and loneliness continues to be prevalent in our high-tech, luxury-laden Sonoma County.
Yet, the bowls that are made express the willingness on the part of the community to help put an end to such situations. And no doubt with the devastation caused by another series of wildfires in Sonoma County this season, Petaluma People Services will have even more critical needs to meet. On Oct. 26 Petaluma People Services Center sent out the following message to the public.
Petaluma People Services Center will be coordinating volunteers and donations. While we understand that the people of Petaluma stand ready to help, we ask that you stay home and take care of your family, neighbors, and friends. As soon as we need volunteers or any donations, we will send out additional information.
Responding to crisis and ongoing need is something that Petaluma People Services like many other social service outreach agencies do each day.
Even with this difficult crisis of wildfires throughout Sonoma County and other parts of California, Petaluma People Services is determined to continue its annual event, perhaps now more so than ever.
“To host a pottery bowl painting party for your friends or colleagues, is simple, says Elece Hempel, Executive Director of Petaluma People Services Center. We will bring the bisque-fired pottery bowls and the glazes to your business or home for you to paint and then donate to the sale. I will join you and your guests to share about PPSC and our programs. All of the bowls from your party will be fired by our partner studio and then auctioned at the 1,000 Petaluma Bowls event this coming November 29.”
According to the Human Services Dept. of Sonoma County, in the past two years, over 60,000 people were not able to afford to buy food. 1/3 of the population in the County is skipping meals because they can’t afford it. In this 1/3 of the population are families with children and the elderly.
“Our annual event builds awareness to help address hunger in our community,” said Hempel. The event directly supports PPSC’s programs that bring healthy meals to our community’s most vulnerable and food insecure individuals. Even though our economy is recovering, thousands of people in Sonoma County still struggle in poverty.”
She went on to say. “Increasingly, more home-bound seniors are receiving a hot meal every day from our Home Delivered Meals program. The number of seniors, families and individuals in Petaluma who are ‘food insecure’ is astonishing.”
Being able to deliver meals to others also accomplishes another important situation, loneliness and isolation. The staff and volunteers at PPSC do a “daily security check” to make sure the people they serve are cared for. This check in provides a life-line to significant portions of the population, who otherwise would go unnoticed and forgotten, like the shard of pottery that get buried in the sands of time.
We don’t have to wait for an archaeologist team to uncover and piece together what happened. People in the community can do something about this situation right in the here and now. It doesn’t require an extensive set of academic skills or a forensic lab.
As Hempel explained, all it takes is a few people to gather and have a party. “You and your friends invite others to come to the event and buy yours or anyone else’s bowl. We want this event and effort to be a fun way to share with others, she said. While hosting a little party you are helping us fill the bowls of so many hungry people in Petaluma.”
Anyone interested in hosting a pottery-making party to help feed the hungry is invited to contact Petaluma People Services Center. “Pick a date for October or November, says Hempel and email us at 1000PetalumaBowls@PetalumaPeople.org. We will send you a draft invite to share with your friends. Please call if you have questions at 707-765-8488.