Empty Bowls event strives to make overflowing bowls

Penelope Gallagher of Grand Junction talks about using the Grand Valley Catholic Outreach soup kitchen when she was homeless.



Getting a warm meal and having a homey place to go where she felt comfortable was everything for Penelope Meghan Gallagher when she was homeless last year.

Gallagher has since found housing, but the 32-year-old Colorado Mesa University student still visits the soup kitchen at Grand Valley Catholic Outreach as often as she can.

“I was here every day last winter,” Gallagher said while at the soup kitchen on Thursday. “It saved my life. It was a miracle.”

Workers at Catholic Outreach of the Grand Valley hope the public appreciates the work the nonprofit does for the community’s least fortunate. The group’s only annual fundraiser, Empty Bowls, starts at 11 a.m. Saturday at its building,  245 S. First St. For a $25 donation, people can choose from a variety of handmade, donated bowls and have them filled with soup, and later enjoy dessert.

Local restaurants donate soup and local potters create bowls. An estimated record number of about 1,000 bowls have been created for the event this year.

“One of the potters said he wouldn’t miss it,” said Angela Walsh, director of the soup kitchen. “It’s a big part of his year getting the bowls together.”

The soup kitchen serves between 250 and 300 people a day, but volunteers are noticing more day workers and elderly people on low incomes seeking out a warm meal, Walsh said.

Catholic Outreach’s mostly volunteer-run organization also helps people with housing, rental and utility assistance. It hosts a library with new books for children and offers clothing. The group also operates a day center for people to get a shower, do laundry, make phone calls, receive some medical services and receive some counseling.

Gallagher was able to get into an assisted living facility with the help of Catholic Outreach.

“Homeless people need a place to go, and they’re looking for a smile,” Gallagher said. “If you can picture yourself in the realm of needing help, you’re more apt to help.”


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