While much of Billings is loading up on cheese dip and Caribbean jerk wings for a more conventional Super Bowl (and probably still recovering from Tebow and the Broncos’ catastrophic blowup), Angela’s Piazza - a local nonprofit support center for women - is getting ready to hold its own annual “Souper Bowl.”
Walkers Bar & Grill, The Wind Mill, Stella’s and others will donate soup and bread to the Piazza’s annual fund-raiser, while skilled local potters like Harvey Young and Steve Degenhart are donating handmade bowls.
Supporters are encouraged to come by Angela’s Piazza (420 Grand Ave., just across from Senior High School) on Feb. 3, between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to buy a bowl of soup for $25. Patrons of the Piazza get to keep the handmade bowls, knowing that the money will support efforts like the Piazza’s domestic violence outreach program.
Tables and chairs will be brought in to convert the building into a bistro for the occasion but take-out will be available for those who can’t find a seat.
The Souper Bowl is one of the two primary annual fund-raisers for Angela’s Piazza and is always held on the Friday before the other Super Bowl.
According to the organization’s web page, Angela’s Piazza is “a woman’s drop-in center dedicated to the support, education and empowerment of women.”
It exists to “provide a safe, accepting, nurturing environment where women may gather to talk, listen to one another, help one another and themselves, and bring healing and empowerment.”
The name “Angela’s Piazza” is taken from Angela Merici, an Italian saint from the 16th century, who said, “Make your homes and lives like a piazza, where all are welcome.” Indeed, the Piazza’s headquarters is a small, unassuming house across from Senior high whose smallness belies the work the organization does.
Assistant Director Amy Aguirre says, “We are a small program but our strength is in our smallness. We are a safe, intimate place to come learn how to make good choices.”
Angela’s Piazza is the home to a support group for domestic violence, but its doors are open throughout the week as a refuge for women in times of need. In addition, a nine-week educational class on domestic violence is offered regularly. The class discusses red flags to look for, how violence affects children, and how to develop safety plans. The Piazza has often helped facilitate these plans for women.
Angela’s Piazza also gives programs like “Medicine Wheel,” a recovery program targeted to Native American with addictions, “Daughters of Tradition,” a program which teaches young women the art of making good choices, and “Mothers of Tradition,” which is aimed at breaking destructive cycles in families and healing generational trauma.
Aside from these primary programs, Angela’s Piazza is committed to providing “little things,” like coffee and food, to women who could benefit from a supportive environment.
Angela’s Piazza is not an overtly religious entity, though spiritual guidance is offered and many involved - including Assistant Director Amy Aguirre - see their work as a ministry. The co-founders, Mary Dostal and Pat Funderhide, conceived the organization’s leadership as an “ursuline” community, meaning it is run primarily by nuns.
The Piazza’s programs all aim to empower women in general but especially the low-income women of the community suffering from addiction problems, domestic violence and a lack of direction.
Aguirre also said, “While we work hard with women in crisis, we think it is very important to provide opportunities to celebrate. Life isn’t all hard work! It’s about appreciating the gifts we have.”
Come celebrate at Angela’s Piazza on Friday and receive your own gift, a handmade bowl, in return.