Good evening. My name is Liz Egan. I am the Art Teacher here at Westbrook Middle School and a member of the Empty Bowls Committee. Welcome.
In the past 5 months these bowls, and we, as a community, have been joined in a journey. This journey touched our lives and our hearts. Through service and education, creativity and joy, together, we have become focused on one unified goal – Hunger Relief.
The journey of the bowls you are eating from this evening began back in August of 2014, when we looked at different bowl designs and settled on purchasing 240 bowls.
At the time, we said, “Wow! That’s a lot of bowls! and thought, “Well, we can always use the leftovers next year.” Little did we would wind up ordering many more and that over 360 bowls would be glazed before the end of the project!
Our journey of bowl glazing began with students. Our first glazing session was very simple – a group of Art Club students and friends met on a typical Tuesday after school in late September. We started that session, as we would every session with a focus on the PURPOSE of the project, and the contribution each of us would make through our shared creativity.
Originally, we planned 4 Glazing Sessions: Art Club, Faculty/Staff, Family Night, and a PTO Glazing Session. At each session our momentum grew as well as attendance and participation.
It was time for the bowls to travel outside the classroom and into the community. Our “road show” included sessions at the Library, the Senior Center, and Daisy Ingraham School. In addition the women’s ministry at my church donated the bowls they glazed as a service activity while on retreat, and there were a few more mini-sessions in between.
The creative energy and spirited enthusiasm were amazing throughout this project. Students, parents, staff, friends, and relatives, some that even doubted their creative ability, were filled with the joy that togetherness coupled with creative activity can bring.
At this point it dawned on me, and on my Glazing Co-Chair Melissa Ryan, that getting the bowls clear glazed and fired was going to be an undertaking in and of itself. Students to the rescue! Thank you so much to all my classes, for your tireless efforts clear glazing one bowl after another after another.
The journey of the bowls, when we ordered them in the heat of the summer to when we eat out of them on this cold winter night –through glazing, and clear glazing ; firing, glazing, and firing again; to photos and cataloging; to washing and storage; labeling and storage again – these bowls have traveled a long way. Many hands and many hearts have touched them, both physically and spiritually. This is the real beauty that each one of these bowls possesses.
Hopefully the journey until today will be a first step. As you take your bowl home, let it serve as a reminder of the Empty Bowls still left in our community. Let it also remind you of what is possible when we all work together.
As I have reflected on the process of the last 5 months, the way I have grown, and how the process has grown, I am grateful. Grateful to have worked with such a wonderful community of people – children, parents, staff, neighbors, friends, and relatives – to watch as they realized their creative ability, applied it onto a bowl, and came together for a common goal, Hunger Relief.
In the end, for me, these bowls became a symbol. A symbol of the Westbrook community’s willingness – to serve, to care, to unite as one family. In short, the bowls became a symbol of our commitment to support each other. Thank you all. Have a great evening.
--remarks by Liz Egan, 29 January 2015