Head of School Blog

Filling Empty Bowls

Jill Singleton
The week after our Eighth Annual Empty Bowls Celebration, the Hoboken Shelter will celebrate its 30th anniversary. While homelessness is not something to celebrate, the services provided by our community shelter are definitely worthy of recognition. Depending largely on the dedicated love and service of nearly 4000 volunteers, here is just a sampling of what the shelter was able to provide in 2011:

• 120,000 meals were served, representing a 20% increase from the year before;
• 50 beds were filled every night of the year;
• 150 guests moved from the streets to the shelter to their own homes.

Over the years, I have had the pleasure of working with children and their families on a number of projects at the shelter. Each time, a similar phenomenon occurs. After some initial shyness or reservation, children and adults alike are quick to realize the beauty and simplicity of the work of the shelter – neighbor feeding neighbor. Guests arrive hungry, and because of the compassion of strangers they may never come to fully know, their bellies are filled and their hope restored. More often than not it is my experience that the people providing the “service” to others actually receive more than they give. “What do they get?” you might ask. They receive a sense of deep connection to their fellow human being, and a greater appreciation of their personal blessings.

While the shelter is recognized for the food and safe haven provided to its guests, it offers the additional benefit of opening its doors to the school children of this community, providing real-life, tangible opportunities for them to develop a sense of leadership and compassion. Whether serving a meal or delivering socks for the homeless, children are empowered by knowing that they can make a difference for others. Our annual Empty Bowls event is a perfect opportunity for families and children to get involved and to benefit from what the shelter has to offer them.

There are a number of ways your family can get in on the Empty Bowls action on Saturday, April 28:

• Your child or family could perform an artistic number (singing, dancing, etc.)
• You can donate blood during the drive that runs during the same hours as Empty Bowls (8:30-11:30am)
• Your family can sign up to take an hour-long shift at our toiletries drive at an area supermarket
• You can participate in the all-you-can-eat Cereal Café, which runs from 8:30-11:30am

If you would like to participate in any of the above, contact Nicole Kemp for more information: nkemp@allsaintshoboken.com

If you would like to participate in the Shelter’s Anniversary Celebrations, check out their website: http://hobokenshelter.org/category/events/30th/

Questions, thoughts, ideas? I’d love to hear them! Email me: jsingleton@allsaintshoboken.com