“We get some really great pottery and for that, we are completely indebted to the potters,” said Amy Aguirre, assistant director of Angela’s Piazza, a nonprofit organization for the prevention of domestic violence that hosted the 10th annual Souper Bowl last Friday at 420 Grand Ave.
For $25, diners received soup served in beautiful wooden or ceramic bowls that local artists either threw (or sculpted) on a wheel, or hand-turned on a lathe, or hand-built, fired in their own kilns, glazed and
decorated. Many local artists donated their pottery, including Rhett Moak and some of her students from Rocky Mountain College.
“Rocky has participated for six years and this is the students’ very first mold,” said Ms. Moak, a professional ceramicist. “It is great for them to jump in with a learning piece.”
Last year, Angela’s Piazza Souper Bowl staff served 185 people and 2013 apparently was the biggest year yet, exceeding expectations. Final numbers were not available at press time.
Sister Ann Dostal, who directs the center, said that the fundraiser is one of the nonprofit’s major efforts, which include private donations and a few small grants.
In addition to the bowl that diners took home, they enjoyed many flavors of soup - donated by local restaurants including Garnier Catering, Walker’s and Stella’s - along with bread, coffee, tea and dessert. Vegetarian and gluten-free soups also were available.
Take-out service for busy office employees who work over lunch and eat at their desks was available, as well as a flight of soup (three small samples) – but only one hand-made ceramic bowl - for those having trouble deciding on just one soup. In addition to the ceramic bowls, diners chose among other ceramic pieces including plates, vases and mugs and even hand-turned wooden bowls.
About 30 volunteers set up the fundraiser, served the soup and other goodies, and completed the tear down after everyone had their soup and taken home their bowl.
About 49 people can be seated at once in the building, which has a comfortable living room and a large dining room with several tables seating six to eight diners each.
“It’s a really different environment for a meal. You sit with newcomers – that gives them a footing for conversation starters,” said Ms. Aguirre.
Completely free to participants, Angela’s Piazza seeks to empower marginalized women and their families by providing support groups for victims of domestic violence, those in recovery from drug addiction and those experiencing barriers to entry into the workforce.
In 2012, Angela’s Piazza served 900 women who needed help escaping domestic violence and other severe family problems. “Because of sexism in our society, we minister to women experiencing the results of sexism in our society,” said Sister Ann Dostal, the director and an Ursuline nun who has run the center since 1998.
One of the newest programs at Angela’s Piazza is the Honor Wall, a space above the table that is dedicated to highlighting the progress of one woman in the programs who has escaped domestic violence and gained a level of independence. The Honor Wall made its debut at the Souper Bowl.
Other programs include Domestic Violence Education, 12 Steps and the Medicine Wheel, Women in Wellbriety, Sexual Assault/Incest Support Group and Nurturing Parenting.
Who was Angela? Saint Angela started her ministry for widows and children of soldiers in the 15th century in what is now Italy. According to the center’s printout: “Angela Merici (1470-1540) founded the Ursuline Sisters.” She made a decision early in life to devote herself to serving the main need, as she saw it, of the Renaissance era - finding a way of supporting those who wished to live a life of complete dedication outside the traditional structure.
And what does piazza mean? According to “Angela’s Piazza: Women’s Drop-In Center Why? When? What?” by Sister Mary Dostal and Amy Aguirre, “A piazza is a place to go to find rest, solace, a friend … . The environment is healing, calming; it is gracious to you, hospitable, and gives you a sense of safety and acceptance. You can approach the piazza knowing you will be welcomed and invited to stay as long as you need, because it is open to every man, woman and child who is poor or wealthy, young or old, anxious or calm, happy or sad. Where you can listen, and be listened to; you can serve, and be served; you can seek peace and find harmony.”