Michigan Citizen article on Empty Bowls event

July 28th, 2010
Go Getters program director Shirley Cockrell (c), with Jackie Bell (l), and Earl Bell (r).

Empty Bowls serve a purpose

By Eric T. Campbell
Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — A fundraiser to benefit Detroit’s hungry will take place Nov. 12 at the newly constructed Piquette Square for Veterans.

The effort is a collaboration of local activists and artists guided by the internationally recognized Empty Bowls for Hunger project. For the $25 admission, attendees will receive locally designed ceramic bowls along with the satisfaction of providing direct assistance to homeless and hungry residents.

Proceeds from the event will be donated to the Go Getters Consumer Run Drop-In Center, one of several locations contracted by the non-profit Southwest Counseling Solutions to deliver mental health, adult homeless and substance abuse services throughout the city.

Go Getters has distinguished itself by providing services in an atmosphere that provides a greater level of empathy to its recipients, according to Go Getters founder, Shirley Cockrell. Cockrell and Catherine Hess founded the center in 1995.

“We saw a need for people with mental illness to go somewhere without the associated stigma,” said Cockrell, who battled severe depression and alcoholism many years ago. “There’s still a need for peer-driven, or consumer-driven organizations like this, run by people that can relate.”

Located a block from the old Detroit Train Station, Go Getters serves about 70 people a day. In addition to hot meals, showers and clean clothes, The Go Getters Drop-In Center provides transportation services for people who need medical, pharmaceutical or psychiatric assistance. Cockrell says that Go Getters also aids citizens in obtaining proper identification, including birth certificates.

“We’ve evolved into a full advocacy center for mental health,” Cockrell continues. “We hold several support groups here — some of our people that come off the streets will not go anywhere else.”

The Nov. 12 event was organized partly by Cathie Baldwin, a member of the Southwest Counseling Solutions Board. She says that the Empty Bowl concept started in metro Detroit by high school teacher, John Hartom, in an effort to end hunger and address food security. It’s now evolved into a world-wide movement with a general principal that changes form from place to place. All events revolve around the ceramic bowls and the hope that they represent.

“The universal concept has the same values — the bowls are made for the purpose of feeding the hungry,” Baldwin says. “Once in the home, the bowls remind you there are people who are hungry.”

Local potters Earl and Jackie Bell led the artistic effort, creating over 200 bare bowls in their studio at the Russell Industrial Center. The bowls were then painted by mental health consumers, artists and supporters before returning to the studio to be fired in one of two kilns.

“When we started this the objective was two-fold — to address the issue of hunger and to get more local art work out into the community,” says Jackie Bell.

There will also be a silent auction of ceramic bowls decorated by local artists.

The Empty Bowls Fundraising Benefit for the Go Getters Drop-In Center will be held on Nov. 12, from 6 to 9 p.m. The Piquette Square for Veterans is located at 6221 Brush Street, Detroit, Michigan 48202.

Admission will include small plates donated by local eateries, beverages and a bowl of your choice. Call Cathie Baldwin at 313-259-7522 to RSVP.

The Go Getters Drop-In Center is located at 2640 West Vernor. Services are provided Monday thru Thursday from 7a.m. to 2p.m. Call program head Shirley Cockrel at 313-961-0677.

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